Sunday, May 8, 2016

I also got out of London city and saw the country side for a bit

Knowing that Shakespeare’s anniversary was coming, friends and I decided to do a day trip to see Shakespeare’s birth place – Stratford-upon-Avon – about 2 hours’ drive away from London city. The little town where Shakespeare was born and grew up was just a normal little England country side village. It was the fame of Shakespeare that brought the world’s attention to it. Shakespeare’s wooden little cottage had also been transformed into a ticketed showroom. Souvenirs with Shakespeare’s picture printed on it would cost twice as much you would have to pay for a normal London flag printed souvenir.   

An hour away from Stratford-upon-Avon, we also visited the Oxford city & the university. I visited the Christ Church dining hall which was where the Great Hall settings got its inspiration from in the movie. The staircases and corridors around the campus just made it feels so much like I was living the Harry Potter movie!

Some countryside pictures:

I enjoyed country side of England - it felt like a little breather from the city. Living in London must be cool with a car to do weekend getaways all the time. 

Country #17: How's London?

This is an after-travel recollection, to address the frequently asked question: “How’s London?”. 

In short, this is London.

The sight of St. Paul's looking back as I crossed the Millennium bridge, on my way to Tate Modern
I was welcomed to the city by the sight of a gigantic, stern, historic, and religiously looking dome pointing to the grey sky. It was a cold Saturday afternoon for April, probably only 10 degrees. Accompanied by drizzles and cold air coming from the river, it feels more like 5-6 degrees, throughout the day.

Central London appeared almost pathetically quiet the day I arrived - almost like a ghost town if not a few tour groups walked passed St Paul's on their way to the Big Ben & Parliament area which was about 20 minutes walking distance away. Very few Londoners actually lived in the city even though millions of them come to work every day - "It is too expensive to live in the city, we would have to pay 2 grands (pounds) for a 2-room flat to live in town." A friend told me . "We live two hours' train ride away from work and try not to come to the city on weekends unnecessarily." Many other people I met later on almost told me the same thing.

I couldn't quite share the same sentiment about how Londoners bitched about costly rental in London.. I've been through worse in Singapore.....

I wouldn't mind a part-time job as a foot tour guide in London. Famous attractions were all lining up by River Thames - Tower bridge, Big Ben, London Eye, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Globe Theatre, Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square.. It just felt confusing to see the super old and super new buildings standing together in a line.

As you learnt about how some old buildings were damaged during the Great Fire and how London survived the war, you felt like you were back to history and the heroism instinct just startled uncontrollably. You almost wanted to ride a horse and fight for people and justice.. And the next minute you see the modern, tall, glassy Shard staring straight into your eyes reminding you about internet, credit cards and law. And then you come back to 21st century and reality. Mentally exhausting, sometimes.

When I was there in London, the town was all over getting ready for the Queen's 90th birthday and Shakespeare's 400th death. Pictures of the two were seen EVERYWHERE ranging from the street, to hotels, to restaurants, including bathrooms…. Yes, bathrooms. The world famous line: To be, or not to be is constantly heard and seen EVERYWHERE. While the Buckingham Palace where the queen lived were always full of people (locals & foreigners included) watch palace guards change at 11.30am every day and marching rehearsal for the queen’s birthday. It was a busy April for UK and good to be here to be part of the celebration :)

Few other pictures I snapped in London: 
London street - 3-4 degrees at 8pm one Thursday evening. 
Needless to say, London Tower Bridge, checked.

Kids having fun with bubbles along River Thames.

London Eye - 5 seconds shutter speed. 

Big Ben.. cold..
My short stay in London had not exposed me to all the things that I wanted to see there. I did not see the graffiti in Shoreditch, did not see the real Sunflowers painting at the National Gallery, I also did not get to see a friend that I really wanted to meet with. But I got a last minute deal to watch a musical at the Queen’s theatre, I saw real Mummies at the British Museum, and I traveled across London with an Oyster card. I am happy with London, in general J