Finally, after 17 years I can see London again! I knew from the same moment I left in July 1992 that I would see her again ...
this time together with our friends and travel companions Franco, Giovanna, Marco and Alessandro ... excellent company!
Thursday? 3 December: departure from Palermo Punta Raisi at about 14,40 (quite punctual, I would say) and arrival in London-Stansted at 16,30 local time. The airport? immense, to go out? a nice walk! During the flight we had already? bought the tickets A / R for Liverpol street with the Terravision company (14? A / R) and after a short wait we get on the bus that in about an hour takes us to central London. From? we take the "underground" (once you understand how it works, the thousand interchanges, I assure you that you will appreciate it not a little for how efficient it is!) and with a couple of lines changes we arrive at our hotel which is 300 meters from the metro station of canning town-Jubilee line. Let's check in what? already quite late, therefore, also tried by a serious tiredness, we decide to settle in the room and start our adventure early the next morning.
Friday? 4 December: immediately to the subway to buy the travel-card to be used during our stay in London (I recommend taking a daily pass, valid until 04.00 the next day, which I paid less than for 2 adults and one under 15 14 pounds a day NB: you can do it for the current day and the others to follow until you stop in the city) and immediately conquer the city! The first goal? Westiminster, then trafalgare square and, since? that was the right day (http://www.army.mod.uk/events/ceremonial/1068.aspx to check the calendar at the time of your departure), running towards Buckingam Palace passing through the beautiful "Mall" (the avenue that divides S. James Park and Green Park and that connects Trafalgar Square with Buckingam Palace), to see the changing of the guard at 11,30. The day ? sunny, so there are really a lot of us crowding close to the bars of the change theater square! Once finished we cross the green park, where we have fun ap? to chase and photograph the many squirrels that live there and to follow we pass to the beautiful Hyde Park. Immediately at the entrance we come across an interesting Christmas event and, since? time ? propitious let's start immediately with a fast lunch based on fish and chips, hot dogs, crepes and other "delicacies" of the same kind. We continue the tour to the park lake where we fed swans, ducks and seagulls. We continue towards the exit on the Marble Arch side and here we are hit by millions of lights and as many people ... we are in Oxford Street !! We get lost ... With Christmas just around the corner, then? a whole party. Frappuccino at Starbucks, of course, and we continue enraptured towards oxford circus. Other thrills, go down Regent Street towards Piccadilly. Stop by Burberry, by witthard x the famous t? and therefore from lillywhites where sporting goods are bought at excellent prices. As soon as we go out, right in front of us Pizza Hut! Why not? let's go in! Discreet quality / price ratio. How to crown a day as intense as it is exciting? but? obvious: with a wonderful evening ride on the London Eye, the mythical 135 m high Ferris wheel from which one dominates the whole of London (and that to access it costs a good 17 pounds apiece !!) it would not seem, but I assure you that we walked a lot, so we go to the subway and go back to charge the batteries for the following day.
Saturday 5 December: gi? at 9 am we are in Notting Hill, and? was a flash of genius, why? after only half an hour the people, for the most part Italians, arrived in torrents! Portobello Road? a swarm of colors, smells and flavors truly indescribable, and we discovered that the prices are more? than competitive. We continue to the legendary British Museum, where we get lost among many wonders! The section dedicated to Egypt stands out, but the other sections relating to other glorious civilizations are also exhaustive. Finished, we fly to sout Kengsinton to see the History Natural Museum and the Science Museum ... Interesting, but if you had to sacrifice other destinations to favor the latter, perhaps it would be appropriate to evaluate well. Before entering we eat something on the fly nearby where a whole series of food stores orbit. Tired, but not completely exhausted, with kamikaze we venture inside the legendary Harrod's (never on Saturday, keep this in mind !!) just in time to attend a fashion show with 5 or 6 beautiful models! Too much mess, despite a lot of good will, we were not able to buy anything ... We go out, or rather we run away, it was not what. Now we are tired and how! We decide to go back to the hotel to take a shower, a few tens of minutes of rest and off to the London Saturday Night Fever! The evening program includes going for dinner in a pub at 37 Whitehall, a few meters from Trafalgar Square, which they had recommended to us and which yes? turned out to be an excellent choice! With around £ 7 each we dined with the distinctive London atmosphere and flavors. Stroll on the night and go to bed.
Sunday 6 December: Let's start immediately with the visit of Greenwich Village. The DLR does not operate on Sundays and we make do with bus n 188 which leaves us right in front of the local park so famous above all because of the zero meridian: exciting to be where the time zones begin and end! Upon our arrival at the park we are literally overwhelmed by several thousand runners dressed as Santa Claus who compete: suggestive! Leaving the park we take a tour of the village, truly unique, it seems to be in another era. Away from the enchanting Greenwich, where time seems to have stopped 2 centuries ago, again the bus and then the subway to go and see one of the most famous symbols. London landmarks: Tower Bridge! Sumptuous. A few meters c '? the Tower of London, a mythical and unmissable city fortress! Right in front of the entrance we are attracted by a good smell and we indulge in the excellent and cheap fried chicken and fish and chips. Now ? the time of the National Gallery ... How many paintings! We favor the rooms where? It is possible to find the eternal Italian artists, of course. People here too? a lot. At the exit we get lost in admiring Trafalgar Square, all Whitehall and Big Ben in the background illuminated for Christmas ... speechless !! Go for a short stop at the hotel and then set off to conquer Covent Garden. Beautiful: full of all kinds of shops and all kinds of patrons, attracted, among other things, even by some artists who perform from time to time! We eat a decent pizza from pizza express that costs twice as much as pizza hut and d? good half ?. After dinner, we evaluate that, since? the subway on Sunday stops running at 23pm rather than midnight, it was wise to come back and not risk being left on foot: then to bed!
Monday? 7 December: penultimate day of vacation (last useful for cultural visits and wild shopping), after a sort of group training we decide to maximize the time available to us, today we don't go back to the hotel if we haven't seen and / or done everything first what we had set ourselves and considered indispensable: early walking around Chelsea: disarming luxury and unique architecture in the world! Do you immediately understand why? of the fact that all the vip: Londoners prefer this "humble little place". A quick visit to Stanfford Bridge: the Chelsea FC stadium is a must. Followed by a foray into Camden Town, the district home to one of the most? famous and folkloristic markets in London: in my opinion like Portobello, but with a special mention for the gastronomic area and with much more space. large and livable. A dose of shopping here too? a must. But be careful: before buying, compare prices, between one shop and another you will find significant price differences for the same item: better if you move towards closing time, sellers tend to lower their requests. After having lunch with unspeakable food, we left at the boarding of the house of tea in Twinning, at 216 strand street (open every day until 17pm and closed on Sundays): 3 bags full of tea boxes? ... Unsatisfied and eager for further "conquests", the next attack was launched at the Hard Rock Cafe store, a few hundred meters from Hyde Park Corner: other quantity? industrial bag full of treasures! What? like the great mass of people who flock inside, needless to say ... almost all Italians (but how much are we spenders?!?!?)! Leaving, we walk all over Park Lane in the rain, objective: still Oxford and Regent Street, other envelopes to add to the first ones! A couple of Starbucks mugs, some toys in the famous Hammlet in Regent Street, cheap nike shoes from Size in Carnaby Street, which for Christmas was even more? decorated than usual, another visit to the gi? cited lillywhites of Piccadilly to complete the work not completed in the previous visit ... Full of bags, tired beyond belief and considering the time, we decide that it was appropriate to eat a little something on the fly, maybe even a p? pi? light lunch in Camden Town, and return to the hotel. Now all that remains is to rest and wait until tomorrow morning to leave our nice CanningTown Hotel.
Tuesday? December 8. And so, checked out with the same incredible speed? of the check-in a few days before, we head, loaded like the caravan of the Magi, to the Liverpool Sreet underground station, from where we could take the Excellent Terravision bus to leave from Liverpool Street towards Stansted Airport. Unscathed the nightmare of the weight of suitcases, for which Ryan Air? notoriously intransigent, we can relax for half an hour to eat a little something before leaving. The flight ? very quiet, the arrival on time ... the holiday ends like this? as ? started and continued: EXCELLENTLY!
In the light of my double "London" experience, I would like to make some considerations that I want to share with those who will read this holiday diary of ours. as I actually did before leaving, and I must admit that I have benefited from it many.
1) Before leaving, try to organize your excursions / visits taking into account the various opening / closing times of the sites and their location, so? you can avoid flying from one end of the vast London to the other.
2) dinner time! there? happened 2 times to arrive at the premises just before 21.00 (London time of course) and they didn't let us sit down why? of l? soon they would close ... so keep in mind that the British dine more? soon of us, I recommend always arriving before 20.00 to be sure to have dinner! This, however, does not apply to pubs: l? they pull it more? late, but after 23,00 no longer needed? alcohol.
3) In London there are a lot of attractions that don't charge admission, all very interesting (British Museum, National Gallery, Museum of history and science, parks ... so if you have little time available, start with these , for those with a fee, any loss would be less traumatic. In some paid tourist sites, sometimes, it is possible that after a certain hour the price of the ticket is discounted (the wax museum, for example), and therefore take this into account and inform yourself in advance.
4) The subway: About the purchase of the season ticket I have already? written above, but here I want to invite you to use it without any hesitation! It has a disarming efficiency: timetables, cleanliness, territorial coverage ... just be careful to enter the various exchange mechanisms, double lines (sometimes some lines split, such as the circle line and the district line or the northern) and 'other. but if you stop for a moment before getting off, you will find everything at every corner of the various entrances? what can? avoid wasting time: that is billboards, notices, pocket maps for free and at will. Another thing you shouldn't overlook? to keep to the right as you go down / up the thousand escalators that characterize it, you will also find it written right next to the handrail, why? L? they are all in a hurry, so please don't piss them off, they must be able to overtake you ... obviously from the left !!
Peppe, Laura, Sergio, Serena, Franco, Giovanna, Marco, Alessandro