London – City of most wonderful people
Thursday, February 9, 2017
This summer in July 2016, we decided to take a trip to London. You might ask why London? Because what makes London fascinating to the global community is its architecture – modern as well as ancient, culture, food, fashion, general lifestyle and its people and also not to forget it’s countryside.
The first thing we did was apply for visa online and then on appointed day got our bio-metric tests like fingerprint and retina scans done at one of the UK visa centers at Tijaria Complex in Kuwait city.
Our visa was stamped within a week and subsequently air travel through Pegasus Air was booked thru Makemytrip.com. We packed our bags and left for Kuwait airport on 8th September.
We landed at London airport at 1:40 pm. There awaiting our arrival was a gentleman who took us to our hotel. He was happy about Brexit, and hoped it will bring more prosperity to Britain.
The journey from the airport to our place of stay was quite far, in Northolt area. But while on the road, we enjoyed the beautiful lush green landscapes sprinting as we drove by. There were only a few clouds floating in the sky, clear and blue as God’s own stretched canvas. The sun shone brightly and the light breeze embraced us, making us feel ecstatic. The time was around 2:30 pm and the weather was clear and cheerful. This was occasional as most of the time it is overcast and showered. Days in London are long during summer. Sun sets at around 7:30pm. The cabman suggested that we take advantage and go to The London Eye, known far and wide – as most latest and modern symbol of vibrant London.
Travelling from Northolt to any part of London was never a problem. London is well connected by its meticulously-planned network of Metro trains, here they called them Tube or Underground. Travelling from Northolt to Westminster, where the London Eye is located, hardly took 30 minutes.
The LONDON EYE is a giant Ferris wheel on the south bank of the river Thames. Also known as the Millennium Wheel, the Europe’s tallest observation wheel reaching upto 135m. Each 32 capsules can hold upto 25 people and weighs around 10 tonne. It takes half an hour for a whole rotation during which we had panoramic view of London from top. We clicked as many spectacular snaps of Big Ben, Westminster, Millennium Bridge, and other parts of London city.
Alongside the London eye, we also visited Dreamwork’s Shrek tour, the Haunted London Dungeon and the soothing Sea-Life aquarium which are very popular London attractions.
The next day we went to HYDE PARK. It is one of the largest royal parks of London, an assortment of unusual sculptures are scattered around the park, including Drinking Horse, made in the shape of a massive horse head lapping up water, and Marble Arch. Much of England is about preserving heritage. There was a small decorative fountain there in the pool, and a couple of pigeons enjoying a sunbath was a treat to the eye. The park is really huge (350 acres) and we could see only part of it, owing to limited time in hand.
We then stepped in to the famous Oxford Street - Europe's busiest shopping street, with around half a million daily visitors. It offers an unrivaled shopping experience thanks to its exciting mix of high-street fashion and international brands. We saw Flagship stores of major retailers, like Zara, Marks & Spencer, ALDO, Debenhams, HMV etc. It was like walking on Grand Avenues of The Avenues Mall, but on much bigger scale. Their displays were spectacular. The whole street was bustling with shoppers and tourists.
Later we decided to take a bus to experience London at night-time. Ever wondered what it would look like to see London by Night? Simply stunning! This bus tour goes through the city lanes and bridges, showing us palaces, houses and mansions owned by celebrities and politicians of the past and present. We also saw London Eye, Harrods, Buckingham palace, Big Ben lit in all its grandeurs and discovered the extraordinary allure of London at dusk.
Day 3 – London Hop on Hop of Bus Tour – We booked the Bus tour to have a panoramic view initially to decide our next step. You have option to either site back on one of their open roof buses and enjoy lively commentary from their guide or you can hop off to any bus stop, visit nearby attraction and again hop on the bus at the same place. These buses run in loop and will take you to all major attractions of central London. We checked out many interesting places such as, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge and Trafalgar Square, Oxford Street, Kings Cross and much more. Along with the bus tour, we got added bonus of free cruise on river Thames. We had full filled time from Millenium Pier till Westminster on the river cruise.
Day 4 – We went to Madame Tussauds, which puts you right into the glamorous world of the rich and famous. All of us have an idol that they cherish or love whole-heartedly. Well this seems to be the right place to bring your dreams into reality by posing with their wax figures; only second to actually posing with them! Here, they have statues of wax of almost all the celebrities of Hollywood as well as Bollywood and all sorts of heroes from the world of philosophers, poets, singers, scientists, sportsmen and other categories. We could also enjoy fictional characters like Spiderman, captain America and all the Star Wars characters. The picture with the royal family makes us fit just right in, as if we belong with them. I now have pictures with almost all famous stars.
Day 5 – In the morning we got down at Victoria Tube Station and walked to see one of most beautiful palaces of London. Buckingham palace is one of the places not to be missed in London; it covers a huge area and is opposite to the beautiful Victoria memorial which is surrounded by 4 more statues, representing Queen Victoria, Motherhood, Truth and Justice. We were lucky to catch the change of guards with lots of pomp and show accompanied by horses and bands of musicians. Photos taken here are a wonderful memory forever. It is the place where Queen Elizabeth lives along with the members of the royal family. It is especially open for visitors during August and September when they are away. The guards are dressed in traditional red coats and wear a tall black fur cap called bearskin. Some ride on horses. They wear different colored plumes to signify their duty.
Day 6 – We saw Natural History Museum, which is amazing from inside as well as out. The building was made in the ancient gothic times with love and patience so appreciable, that one can feel the pulse of it. Once inside, there was a sea of knowledge to be explored. The exhibits were from the beginning of a cell to the mightiest animal of our times. One can imagine the ingenuity and hard work behind such high class work.
In the Dinosaur section, they have made a huge T-Rex, one which seemed so real when he opened his mouth to give a nasty shriek. I was terrified, excited and relieved (that they’re extinct) all at once. There were all kinds of artificial animals- terrestrial, arboreal, aquatic, marsupials, amphibians, aerial and even tape worms found in our body.
On one floor there was a specimen of material collected from space by the US Govt. gifted to UK Govt-Amazing. Charles Darwin’s huge statue stands there for his contributions in natural science. The third floor consisted of simulation of earthquake. The admission to the museum is free.
Day 7 - Thorpe Park – The day was bright and sunny. So we were inspired to go to one of the theme parks of London. It was like Entertainment City and Aqua Park, clubbed together. Almost all the rides were different and not found in Kuwait. Like mind blowing reality of Darren Brown’s Ghost Train reinvented for the 21st century. This was opened recently in May’16. The 4D adventure of Angry Birds had our hearts pumping and adrenaline rushing. The water rides were exciting and fun, although it seemed dangerous at first.
Day 8 – Tower of London - It was a royal palace, a fortress and an infamous prison and even a zoo, and today it’s one of Britain's most visited historic sites. The Tower of London is a 1,000-year-old castle and had too many stories to tell and as I was listening to guide, the long serpent like queue attracted my attention. It was where the Kohinoor was placed. I think the highlight of the day was seeing the Crown Jewels, a unique collection of royal regalia which are still regularly used by the Queen in important national ceremonies. Unfortunately, you’re not allowed to take any photos.
Day 9 – Brighton – We planned a little sightseeing outside London. We hired a rental car and yes the Kuwait driving license is valid there so you can roll on your own. Although you have to be careful about comparatively narrow lanes and right hand driving. We drove to Brighton to meet up with a friend, which was lovely as expected. We discovered Brighton to be really peaceful along the south coast of Britain. We visited the famous Brighton Pier, where I found many Indians tourists. After that we proceeded to East Bourne, where the mighty Beachy Heads are found. These are the highest chalk sea cliff in Britain, rising up to 162 meters above sea level. We had panoramic view of the English Channel, which separates England with France.
Day 10 – Stonehenge – After Beachy Head we drove towards Stonehenge, which is on the west side of the country. It is one of the most popular sites in the UK and by far the most speculated. On our way we enjoyed famous English country side. All around there was lush green plains, farms with horses, cows and sheep’s in it. Villages on our way were quite and clean with neatly arranged cottage houses. We reached at around 2 pm. Sky was open and the site was lit with bright blue and green colors. We got the tickets at the Visitor Centre. A Shuttle bus carried us to the actual site. We found Stonehenge to be the most fascinating landmark and came to know that it is a World Heritage Site. Dating back some five thousand years it holds an ancient history and has been the constant topic of great debate. Why, How, Who built the Stonehenge? Mystery still continues.
My 10 day trip came to an end and it was time to go home. We came back to Kuwait on 18th Sep with lots of sweet memories and pics of UK and with expectations and secret desire to visit London once again. We will always cherish London and its people for the wonderful gift to the world.
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