36 Hours in London

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Whatever the reason, an unexpected trip to London, one of my favourite cities in the world, is a joyful occurence. Shortly arrived at my usual headquarters in Golders Green, I switch to fast speed and head to Victoria Station. The massive architecture that every time seems to show me new dimensions of power and creativity that are not easy to find in Berlin.

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Talking about Berlin, another important difference with the city hosting me now is the weather. There is a common place to complain about the ‘bad’ weather in London meaning that not too many experienced the constant low temperatures in Berlin. As my short trip to London does include a lot of walking an no specific indoor activities – not even a small museum or exhibition – I use my time in between meetings enjoying the hot sun of the London spring.

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The perfectly white cubicle houses in the Kensington area makes me feel a spy in a huge lego town. This feeling is amplified also by the emptiness of the streets, as it seems at this time of the day everyone is even taking a well-deserved siesta or just working hard to pay the loans for these beautiful locations.

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The parks offer a more dynamic side of the London life, many offering chaise-longues and green scenery to read a book or enjoy the lunch break.

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Near Buckingam Palace, tourists – like me, and maybe you too, my reader – are intensively busy to spot their photographic memories of the trip.

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As for me, I am looking for some different royal views, paying a short visit at the local Ritz Hotel, whose soothing piano music makes you feel you are visiting a real palace.

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I may not have enough time and peace of mind to dedicate extra time of this trip to an exhibition or a museum, but at least I have the inspiration to stop in the yards of the Burlington House. Time for another open lesson in architecture.

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The view of some pleasant small Japanese cookies at Minamoto Kitchoan diversified the list of things seen and smelled in London this time. The pastel colours of the shop and the open smile of the vendors made me feel sorry for not being in the mood for some Asian purchase this time.

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Every time I visit London I should see this building near Oxford Street. One day, I hope to be brave enough and discover it properly.

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China Town is a place I haven’t visited in London for over 10 years. This time, I want to get lost in the emprorium of senses and colours and authentic cuisine. It is afternoon and I can easily find enough open, half-empty restaurants. When I was there the last time, in was late afternoon and we had to wait some good minutes till having our right to delicious Asian bites. DSC09282

London markets, including in Chinatown, are very well known for their diversity of tasty fresh products and I take the opportunity for some healthy supplies for my trip back to Berlin.

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The simple idea to return, after realizing that I will miss so many beautiful streets and buildings and foods, makes me sad. But I keep going and taking pictures, this is my antidote to travel sadness.

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As usual, I am trying to see the full half of the glass and I am making mental lists of the activities my next trip to London should include. Her Majesty’s Theater is obviously part of the plan.

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The always busy Piccadilly Circus offers everything you need to make your afternoon special: classical and modern art, street music, fresh water and even a lot of people ready to talk and help tourists losts or charmed in London.

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There is even a dynosaur’s metal skeleton…

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The brave squirrels that cut my way in the Green Park, seems to love flowers as much as I do so it is partly forgiven for the impoliteness. Not too much impressed by humans, it offers long photo opportunities and maybe also a squirrel’s smile.DSC09318

On the other side of the river, the Golden Eye is watching silently.

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And so does the Tower of London.

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In the shadows of so many historical landmarks, young dancers are practising their hobby on the river’s bank. After so many hours of walking, I decide to stop for more than 10 minutes, watching the gracious steps and almost perfect coordination of the pairs.

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This is the beautiful view that I left behind. Another point on my to-do-list for the next time: take a trip on the old Thames.

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I have no idea why the time run away that fast, but I am feeling like going fast down the rabbit’s hole. The same hole where Alice in Wonderland got caught. The beautiful porcelain celebrating the 150-year young book reminds me the sophistication yet plaifulness of the British spirit.

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The next day, I am decided to revisit and find some new places in the quiet Golders Green.

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Every time I am in London I am extensively exploring the diversity of kosher restaurants. This time, I can only take a look around to see if some new things are launched – there is a new Indian restaurant that I hope it will be there for the next time. Taking the advantage of the beautiful weather, I cannot resist the invitation to have a last icecream at SoYo before saying ‘good bye’ to London. I previously reviewed this place, that did not impressed me from the point of the view of the service. Some years after, the situation did not change, but at least after waiting way too much, the icecream is good enough to make myself smiling to the sun.

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That was all for this time. I am ready, but not happy, to go back to Berlin, feeling anxious about when will it be the next time to see London again. Meanwhile, I keep repeating to myself that it is up to us to make our travel dreams come true.

For more photos from London, including from previous tips, have a look at the dedicated Pinterest board: https://www.pinterest.com/ilanaontheroad/london/

Ilana at the London Aquarium

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During my trips, I love to spend a lot of time visiting Zoos and natural science museums and Aquariums. I feel it relaxing and interesting and always an opportunity to learn new things. My latest love is the London Aquarium where I’ve been at least four times this year. There it is a similar place in Berlin that I visited in my first year in Berlin, but I rarely go in that area more than once the year. I do not like too much the neighbourhood.   

The big advantage of the London Aquarium is the great location, minutes or Tube stations away from London’s big attractions. From the London Eye to the Big Ben, everything can be seen and if you look carefully, you would love the view as much as I do. 

My usual schedule of a day at the London Aquarium is to try to be there around mid-day – especially during the summer expect some waiting time and a lot of tourists, but everything goes quite fast – spend there a couple of hours – I want to be in time for the penguins’ feeding time, around 3pm. If I am lucky, I can get some special presentations, as it happened today, when I’d learned about sharks. After I have enough of observing the fish and taking pictures – without flash – of the lovely creatures, I usually stop at the Marriott for a cup of tea or a fresh juice and I continue my journey for the evening meal. Besides the interesting show of the nature, one will always have the feeling of being part of a global world, with lots of languages spoken by the tourists from all over the world. 

One of the reasons I like to go there very often is that it is always some piece of information I miss before. I love the way in which the short presentation texts are written, in a language easy enough to be understood by people without any science background. 

The price is relatively high, of around 20 pounds. There are many information for children and some special playgrounds, besides quite a bit of kitsch and touristy stuff. But one can ignore that and be pleased by the incredible colour combination of the fish or of the grace of the swimming sharks. There are life lessons that both children and adults will always enjoy. 

ImageYou can also watch The Jellyfish show on YouTube.

Lost in London, episode 1

Happy 150 years anniversary, my dear Tube! Last time when I visited you, you were a bit busy: first, it was the Xmas time when the only way of transportation is with the cab – when for 10 minutes of drive you will pay around 18£ – or with your own feet (more about this later in this post). Second, the small strike on Boxing Day, when you offered the possibility of a lot of human interaction on the buses between people almost dead after dozen of hours of waiting in the front of the shops with impressive sales (at 7am Oxford Street was full of such hunters). 

I visited London several times and almost each time I encountered some little stupid and unexpected problems. I remember when once I was a couple of days before getting my first pair of glasses (apparently was living with a -5 myopia for years, but did not care for not seeing clearly the world) and wanted to much to go in the London Eye. Everything was blurred, as usual, and as we were getting higher, I was more and more panicking thinking ‘what if this time we go to the top and never come back on the ground into one piece’. I was ignoring the fact that a couple of hours before I was higher in the sky, running fast among clouds to reach London with the help of a very cheap flight line. Meanwhile, the Eye was the work of the great British Airways – with whom I had the most amazing flight in my life. 

This time, I outperformed in a brilliant way: I ended up by missing the flight because falling asleep, but the cause of my exhaustion was also the long trip I made, by myself, from Kensington to Golders Green. Yes, I know that I walked more than 16 miles, against the rain – I bought a lovely black cheap Chinese umbrella that at the end of the day was in the garbage – and the risks of having as a company many homeless people impressed by someone quite well dressed and walking with the speed of Gulliver’s boots. The decision to walk for so many hours was the result of a couple of rational considerations (yes, it is perfectly true, nothing foolish here!): I wanted to feel London, to take some more pictures and most importantly, to put on trial my orientation skills – I am an A+ pro – my physical resistance. Plus, it was the first time in a long time when I was completely on my own and able to organize my thoughts without being bothered by complains, requests and observations. 

I made it in due time, and enjoyed the rest of the evening in the lovely European Jewish Brooklyn. In a way, I enjoyed much the quiet streets of London on the 25th compared with the business and craziness the day after. Around the Aquarium area, there were thousand of people coming and going, talking any possible languages on Earth. The buses were more than crowded and the best choice was, again, walking, instead of waiting for one hour for advancing 200 meters. It was no shopping planned – not even book shopping – and no special cultural activities, like museums and exhibitions. I made a lot of walks and enjoyed nature. I tested some delicious cakes in GG and looked almost crying seeing the merchandise from the kosher supermarkets that I forgot there exist outside America or Israel. 

The lesson of the trip: make every travel unforgettable – for a couple of days, my feet were swallowed and I begged for 12-hour of quiet sleep – get lost from time to time – especially if you are in a country where you speak the language and where you know people that will rescue you – and get enough experiences for an unusual blog post. 

And, again, thank you the Tube for such an unique experience. Can you be so kind that you punish me the last time with a very boring touristic adventure in London? Thank you and have a nice celebration! ImageThis is what you can call stylish English architecture. My eyes are trying to foget the experimental architecture of BerlinImage

Crossroad in CamdenImageThe green land from Northern LondonImage

Guess where I was?