Showing posts with label london. Show all posts
Showing posts with label london. Show all posts

08 February 2009

Good Bye London!

When I arrived back in London after a couple of weeks in Europe things had changed. The biggest winter storm for about twenty years happened the day before my return, blanketing the city with snow and causing mass closures of transportation and businesses.

I took advantage of the snow to cross one more task off my 101 in 1001 list and made a snow man. Owen, Willow and I spent hours building it in the back garden, and the finished product was pretty impressive!

However, the novelty of the snow wore off pretty quickly and I was looking forward to getting back to New Zealand in a few days for the end of summer!

20 January 2009

Ice Skating in London

As my time in London draws to a close I've been trying to fit in a few last activities while I still can!

It was for this reason that I finally went to the Tower of London on Saturday with Owen, Becky and Gareth.  It was interesting to hear some of the historical stories and there were a lot of towers and a couple of dungeons to explore. We ran out of time to see everything , but still managed to have a look at the crown jewels, the infamous ravens, and lots of suits of armour.

On Sunday evening I went ice skating, something I've been meaning to do for months and months. I caught up with Hannah at the outdoor ice rink by the Natural History Museum. I hadn't been ice skating in years, so it took a bit of time to get used to! But once I got the hang of it again it was lots of fun.

Before leaving I also want to do a Jack the Ripper walking tour, hopefully see a musical, and maybe go on the London Eye.

22 December 2008

Why I Love London

One of the best things about London is the feeling that there could be almost anything around the next corner. This was definitely my experience yesterday when Gareth and I went on an adventure into the city.

We were initially looking for the New Zealand Shop to buy some Burger Rings and Pineapple Lumps, but ended up exploring the streets for hours instead. Some of the highlights of the day included:
  • Listening to some musicians dressed in Medieval costumes and singing Christmas carols on the deck of a sailing ship
  • Seeing the city lit up with Christmas lights
  • Strolling through markets on the bank of the Thames with the scent of mulled wine in the air
  • Coming across a pack of huskies
  • Watching street performers at Covent Gardens
  • Finding a high-speed carousel at Leicester Square which included giant chickens as well as the more traditional horses
  • Seeing a bubble-blowing car which filled the streets with hundreds of bubbles
I'm going to miss London when I leave in a couple of months!

01 December 2008

Surviving the London Underground

Before I came to London I had never experienced the dubious pleasure of travelling on the underground, and it took a bit of time to get used to! Here are some of the things I wish I knew to start with:

The Transport for London website has all the key information you need to know about using the Tube, and also has a journey planner so you can work out what transfers you will need to make and how long it might take.

There are eleven different lines, each depicted by a different colour. At first glance the map of the London Underground looks very confusing, but as long as you know where you are starting from, the final station you need to reach and the line that it’s on you will be able to work out your route without too much trouble. And if you get totally confused then the staff at the ticket booths are usually very helpful.

The London Underground is separated into six zones. Zone One includes the centre of the city, and Zones Two to Six radiate out from this centre point. There are different charges the further you travel, and the more zones you travel across the more expensive it becomes.

A range of travelcards are available from stations, but if you are spending more than a couple of days in London it’s worth getting an Oyster Card for £3.00. Fares are usually cheaper with an Oyster Card and they are very easy to use. Money needs to be loaded onto the card, which can be done at stations. As long as you have at least £1.00 left on the card you will be able to get through the barriers, and if you travel more than one zone in this case the Oyster Card will go into debit.

There is always engineering work being carried out on the weekends, and sometimes whole lines are closed down for the day. Transport for London has information on which lines are affected and it really pays to check their website before you leave home!

If you have a choice definitely try to avoid travelling on the Tube during rush hour! If it can’t be helped then it is worth knowing a thing or two about dealing with the hordes of commuters.

In London everyone walks FAST. If you’re not in a hurry or don’t quite know where you’re going then make sure to keep out of the main flow of traffic or risk being trampled on! One of the easiest ways to move through the crowds is to find a human shield – someone you can walk behind who will clear a path.

Using Escalators
There are two “lanes” on each escalator: keep to the right if you are standing still, or keep to the left if walking. You can always recognise when someone has spent time in London because the automatically stand on the right hand side of escalators no matter where they are!

There is not a lot to occupy your time on the underground, so having something to do makes the journey a lot more interesting.

Books, magazines, newspapers… any reading material is a good way to pass the time. Just make sure that you don’t get too absorbed and miss your stop! If you forget to bring something to read there are usually vendors outside stations distributing free newspapers, and people always leave copies behind in the carriages.

Usually the only sounds to be heard on the Tube are the noise of the train and the recorded voice constantly informing everyone to “mind the gap”. Listening to music is a big improvement! I have found that rock music is best during rush hour. When the crush of bodies gets too much I like to pretend I’m in a civilised version of a mosh pit.

What are your suggestions for dealing with public transport?

20 September 2008

Shakespeare at the Globe

Last night Owen and I went to Timon of Athens at the Globe Theatre. It was great, the Globe is amazing and the acting was excellent. The whole atmosphere was wonderful, and if you have even a passing interest in Shakespeare it is definitely worth going if you get the chance!

Timon of Athens is one of Shakespeare's lesser known plays dealing with themes of generosity, money lending, debt and friendship. One of the features was the vultures hovering on the edge of the action, which in this version was the actors perching on the net strung across the theatre.

We had standing tickets in the yard which was the best place to be, with actors descending from the net above us and pushing through the crowd. It was lots of fun and I crossed another thing off my list!

05 September 2008

Moving to London

Once we returned from France Owen and I had some decisions to make about where to live next. We spent a couple of days in Cornwall looking at options, but the best job prospect was working at a toy factory for minimum wage which didn't really appeal...

My back-up plan was London, so we sorted out transport and a place to stay for the first couple of nights at a cheap hostel. We started looking for accommodation almost straight away, and intensified our search when our room began to leak (even though it wasn't on the top floor) and one of the other guests was awoken in the night when a rat bit him on the chin.

We were very lucky to find the perfect place really quickly, and moved in straight away. I love our new apartment! It comes complete with one other tenant, a spacious bedroom with a good sized wardrobe, and our own bathroom. Bliss!

Finding full time work is more of a challenge, but we both have some temporary work lined up and I'm sure there will be more to follow. In the meantime I will be spending my days catching up on my travel journal, finally getting around to sending some long overdue emails, and meeting up with friends passing through London.

17 May 2008

Arriving in the United Kingdom

It was strange arriving in England as everything felt incredibly familiar. Of course New Zealand is very similar to the United Kingdom in a lot of ways, but I think this was really emphasised after Thailand.

We got into Heathrow at about 7.00am feeling sleep deprived and cranky but managed to take the tube to our backpackers. We had a few hours before we could actually check in, so left our bags and headed to Piccadilly Circus for a look around. I caught my reflection in a shop window and realised I looked a lot like Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars (sans lightening shooting out of my fingers) but felt a lot better after sleeping for the rest of the day.

The following morning we met up with Troy and Willow (who had arrived while I was sleeping), and decided to do some sight seeing without spending too much money. This involved visiting Big Ben, the British Museum, and a traditional English Pub. In the evening we were joined by Campbell and went out for dinner for Owen's birthday.

I'm not usually a fan of cities so I was quite suprised to realise that I love London! I really want to go back and stay for at least a couple of months. It seems like there is always something exciting and interesting happening somewhere in the city, and you could find anything you wanted if you just knew where to look.


From London we took a bus to Bristol where we stayed with Troy and Willow for a few days. The charms of Bristol were somewhat lost on me, but it was really good to spend some time with friends/family and also gave us a chance to sort out our next steps.

We had originally planned to spend the next couple of months in Cornwall, but after some fruitless days trying to find jobs and/or accommodation decided we'd have to find somewhere else to go first. By using my tried and tested method of random decision making Owen and I decided we'll live in Belfast for the next two months or so.