Summer Days: A trip to Greenwich

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Ah Summers! What wouldn’t one give to have a nice summer day in Britain. London is the most beautiful and lively during summers. It’s never too late to go on a walk neither it’s too early, because it gets dark only for a couple of hours. Here, I bring to you the London I discovered during this Summer and I must say it’s nothing less than beautiful.

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The Emirates Air Line : Cable Car to the O2

One of the places you might want to visit is the Greenwich Royal Observatory which i did one fine summer morning. Many people of London do frown upon the Emirates cable car which has been erected out of nowhere in the middle of the city of London. As, i stay just in front of it on the other side (The Royal Docklands) i decided to take a cable car ride to the Greenwich instead of the Tube (Taking the tube had become too mainstream!). And it might be surprising to many as this was the first time i was gonna sit in this cable car for the first time (though living right in front of it for almost a year now). It was amazing to see London from a different point of view and also I could use my Oyster Card here to travel so this made my case for taking the cable  car to the O2 stronger :p .

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View of The O2 from the Cable Car

The view up here is simply mesmerizing; at least i had a nice view of the O2 and the Canary Wharf. It takes almost 5 to 6 minutes for the whole journey but was worth it and for me it was the fastest way to get to the O2. I was to take a bus later to the Royal Observatory. One advice would be to always carry a bottle of water while travelling anywhere during Summers as London gets terribly hot and the occasional sips of water do help in preventing dehydration. Once, you get down from the bus you walk into yet another beautiful masterpiece of architecture in London. The Queen’s House and the stretch of lush green grass surrounding the whole of the area.

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The Queen’s House

There’s a small museum inside which pays tribute to the war heroes who fought in the wars and the entry is free. After that one can either visit the Maritime museum which is right besides the Queen’s House or you can choose to go to the Royal Observatory which is atop a hill behind the Queen’s House.

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Royal Observatory Greenwich

After climbing, you have reached the Royal Observatory where the discovery of the Greenwich mean time (G.M.T) took place. Inside there is also the GMT line, the 0 degree longitude line. The museum takes you through the journey of how the clocks were invented or how they started measuring time.

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The 0 degree longitude line : Also known as the G.M.T line

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After having a good look and enjoying the cool breeze up on the hill, we began to go down the hill and the view from up there was very beautiful. A picture which is a perfect example of Contrast architecture:

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Canary wharf from the Royal Observatory

 

Then, there’s the National maritime Museum which houses some splendid examples of workmanship and art. there are small scaled models of the ships which were used by england during the wars and during the olden days which is worth your eyes. And all of this at a cost of zero!

Below i have clicked some pictures which are surely going to make you amazed by the beauty with which they were created.

had an amazing day out after a long time. At the end i ll like to quote some lines by John Ruskin:

Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.

 

Isle of Wight: Dinosaur island

Long weekend was something of which I understood the importance after coming to London. People start making plans about those weekends right at the beginning of the year. I thought why such a deal about it. But, since I was used to the Indian system where we have a habit of having so many bank holidays on countless occasions and those corresponding to the weekend was quite a probability. So, I thought that people are just making a fuss about it. Here, in London it’s so different. First of all, there aren’t many occasions on which you might get an off from work or colleges. Secondly, even if it does, it’s either raining or there’s simply a bad weather day. These are the things which you come to know after living for some considerable time in here, because as they say the weather in London is so unpredictable that it might change thrice (as in it may rain, or get windy or it might just be an another clear sunny phase of a day) in a single day!

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The beautiful English Channel

Well, there’s an instance every year during Easter when there is an extended weekend from Friday to Monday. In UK, you never run out of the places you can visit. It is the 8th biggest tourist destinations in the world. London itself experiences the largest number of visitors annually in the UK. There are numerous destinations around London which I have lately discovered and do want to visit them before I return back to India.

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One of the many fishing lakes at Isle of Wight

One such location which I recently explored was the Isle of Wight. It’s the largest island of England and situated in the English Channel to the far south of the country. Distance to France is hardly 60 to 65 miles from here. It’s indeed such a beautiful island and I was simply mesmerized by the breath taking blue water and the large stretches of Greenland across the island. Since it is an island you need to get across the sea in a ferry. Ferry is nothing but a huge ship vessel which carries vehicles and passengers across a distance in water. Our ferry had three levels for parking and two floors for passengers; which had a restaurant and a deck. Standing on the deck having coffee, and sailing across the blue English Channel, indeed made me feel as if I were in a movie. The beginning of the journey was so beautiful that the levels of expectations about the island before reaching there had naturally grown up.

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The big stretches of Mustard fields

But, it was totally worth it. It was far better than the expectations when I got down the island. This island is also famous for Dinosaurs! As in this was the place where a lot of dinosaur fossils were found and therefore, the island gets its nickname as the dinosaur island! It is one of the important places in Europe where dinosaur fossils were found. There are many dinosaur themed parks and a museum where they have kept the fossils and footprints which were found on the rocks in some parts of the island. However, that’s not it; the island is famous for its thatched roof houses, hovercrafts, different colored sand beaches and much more.

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Sunset at Ventnor

If you come to the island I would say you should take at least a two to three day break so that you can explore it to the fullest. There are excellent accommodation facilities on the island especially in the villages such as Niton, Rookley, Godshill or near to the beaches such as Sandown or the Shanklin. Here you can even book cottages which are quite well catered and at quite a reasonable price. If you go in a group of 4-5 people booking a cottage is a good idea. There are supermarkets on the island so getting stuff is easy. I would suggest an outdoor barbecue right by some lake where you have fishing facilities as well (of course for those who are fishing enthusiasts). There are some good shacks on the beach where you get a variety of sea food and it feels great by the night.

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The pebble beach at Needles Point

One day should be spent on the nice beaches here which are clean first of all and I don’t know about summers but it wasn’t particularly crowded so in a way it is peaceful out there. There are sand beaches near Sandown which are particularly fun and you have all the facilities nearby so it’s a beach where you can spend most of the time. You could then go to Needles Park which is particularly on the opposite side of the island but here there’s a chairlift which gives you a ride down to the beach from the cliff top and you get a spectacular view of the needles point and the sea ahead. The beach down here is full of pebbles and you can spend most of the time especially afternoons. There are speed boats and slow boat rides but I won’t say there are worth. There are lots of options you could explore on the island. You get nice souvenirs in the Needles Park here and hours could be spent in the market. But, again yeah one more thing if you don’t have your own car, getting across places could get a bit difficult though there are buses which ply throughout the island.

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The Godshill Model Village: Note the actual church building in the background

One more thing here which needs a particular mention here is the Godshill village and the model Godshill village right in the middle of the village. Yes that’s right! There’s a model of the actual village which has been scaled and detailed very minutely and accurately. They have made the whole replica of the village and some parts of the island in the form of a small model. This is sure fun and one can really admire the work of art which has been done here.

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The Needles Point: Isle of Wight

The final stop was the St.Catherine’s Lighthouse which is situated near the foothills of Niton village. It’s one of the oldest and important lighthouses in Britain. The first lighthouse which was built dates back to the year 1323 which is almost 700 years old.

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St. Catherine’s Lighthouse: 700 years old

Of course there have been many reconstructions later on and the latest one dates back to the early 20th century. The optic of the lighthouse which is currently working was established in the year 1905 approximately and is still active. The area near to it has many rabbits and red squirrels which are quite rare and are found on this island. The lighthouse overlooks a house near its premises where the founder of Radio waves Marconi stayed once.

Well that’s all we could explore throughout the island in a trip of three days. Half of one day was wasted because of heavy rains but then again we must know that it may rain anytime in UK and we can’t complain. It is the hard truth with which people live here!

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The journey had to end and it did. You wish that you could have some more time you could have done this you could have done that…But, it’s life after all and it must go on. It is just one of the small phases of life where you wish the time would never end. But, then life is a collection of such small phases and which stay in our mind forever and we call them memories.

 

Cycling your way

London’s Underground network is the lifeline of the people staying in and around London. Never had I wondered before, that what would happen if the whole thing came to a halt? Well, it seemed to be a nightmare and unfortunately (well not completely though) a similar situation was faced by Londoners a few days back. Though it was not completely stopped but almost 80 percent train network was shut down for a strike which many of you might be surprised to know that it cost the government almost a loss of £200 million. Whoa! That’s a lot of money one might wonder. Well, that is not the thing which I am about to describe in detail but wanted to share a fact.

I would say I got to explore London like never before. A two day strike was announced mid week which is like the peak days of the week. People say that London literally comes to a halt when the so called lifeline stops working as people have very limited choices to travel. Of course, there are buses but one cannot rely wholly on them partly because it takes like ‘ages’ (not literally!) to travel by a bus as compared to the London’s very own underground ‘Tube’.

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So, I decided to plan ahead because of the planned strikes and I couldn’t afford to miss college a single day. As, we receive email newsletters from the TFL (Transport for London) regarding the alternate routes we can plan our journey for, TFL encouraged to make use of the famous ‘Boris Bikes’. Well, for many of you who might not be aware of the Boris bikes, these are the bicycle systems introduced by the Mayor Boris Johnson in the year 2010 which was modeled on a similar system implemented in Paris. It’s also called as Barclays Cycle Hire as it is the main sponsor for the system. A quick fact about the bicycle hire: A record, 47,105 cycles were hired on a single day during the Olympics of 2012 in London.

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Well, anyways this system was specifically quite new for me and I was pretty amazed by the system. Well, the system works as follows: We can hire the bicycle at a mere cost of £2 (I would say mere because it’s relatively still cheaper than the other modes of transport in London!) for a period of 24 hours and you can use debit card to make the payment. You can use the bicycle for free up to 30 minutes and if you happen to cross the limit of 30 minutes, its £1 additional. Though, after my experience you can reach any destination in less than 30 minutes if it is located in Central London.

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So, I decided that I’ll do part of my journey by bus and part by the bicycle. I was reluctant initially, as first of all, I wasn’t used to the roads in London and riding a bicycle after so many years made me nervous. But, I decided to stick to my plan and go for it. I had planned to that after the college hours as I didn’t wanted to be late for the class and as I said, I was not that accustomed to the London roads. So, after the class, I walked up to the nearest cycle dock at Victoria Embankment and hired a bicycle with the help of a kiosk which is again pretty easy to use.

With a lot of hesitation and reluctance I put headphones and tuned it to my favorite playlist. I rode upon the bike and forgot everything else. The initial reluctance was soon forgotten and I lost into the beautiful weather and the ambience of the beautiful Victorian architecture. I decided to go via the Waterloo Bridge which is one of the many bridges across river Thames in Central London. I had to stop here to get the beautiful view. The free flowing Thames and the boats on one side and London eye and Westminster Abbey on the other side…the view was scintillating. This made me feel that I was indeed in London. I saw the city from a complete different perspective. This was the first time when I actually could appreciate the beauty of this city.

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As quoted by Dr. Samuel Johnson, a famous writer

“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford”

I could really feel the meaning of these lines when I had one of such an unusual yet a beautiful journey through the streets of London. It was then I realized that people at times really don’t appreciate the beautiful and small things in life they have around themselves and meanwhile running after other irrelevant things in life. Though, that would be quite philosophical on my part but it was only after I experienced this I could realize. It had been almost 5 months and I have travelled the same old path since then travelling via the underground. Of course, that made my journey comfortable and convenient but although the path I had treaded that day may not have been of such a convenience but I must say that it was worthwhile and a treat to my heart.

 

 

Rise and Shine

I got up this morning to a very beautiful day today. Yeah it’s Saturday after all and I want my piece of cake after a hectic week and here it was. But just not that, as soon as I open the blinds of the room my eyes are nearly blinded by the bright sunshine which was a cherry on top of the icing. For the whole week earlier, it had been raining nonstop. And here it was a beautiful sunny start of the weekend. They truly say that you can’t know the importance of sunshine unless you stay in London. Well, I don’t know whether they really say that but it is indeed a true story here.

A Beautiful Sunny Day

A Beautiful Sunny Day

The weather in London is so unpredictable, that even stock market seems pretty simple. You see a beautiful and clear sky one moment and just after a couple of hours the whole thing said before begins to seem a contradiction. Black clouds, winds followed by a downpour. Yeah, its London and this is the real picture of it (at least) for some time of the year. But, then again man has been designed in a way to adapt to any surrounding condition and this is what happens to people staying here; you get used to that weather and somewhere subconsciously, you start loving it. Again, this might come as a surprise but it’s a true story!

Fog in London is very common

Fog in London is very common

Of course, it is difficult initially especially for the people (like me) coming from tropical countries, because they are used to seeing sun almost every day of their life around the year. I remember when I came to London; the weather so got on to my nerves that some days I used to feel depressed the whole day. But, as I said before, man has the capability to adapt. You slowly start loving things which you hated before and as they say, one becomes institutionalized to those things when they are exposed to the same things everyday for a longer period of time.

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I would say, it’s a good thing which happened to me. Sometimes, you never realize the importance of some things unless they are no more (in this case I would say less often). The same thing implies for the sunshine. I never felt so happy, looking at the beautiful sunshiny day today which I never would have cherished if I would have stayed in my own country. I’ m happy that I am here with new experiences, new people, new places to explore and of course striving to be even a better person as I am today.