Thursday, June 18, 2015

London - An Amazing Holiday

After going through our 400 or so photos and finding about 50 to post on Facebook, I understandably ran out of steam to write a blog post about it. But travelogues have always been my favorite way of keeping vacation memories fresh for later, so I had to get to it soon :). Especially this holiday, that was so so special to me, had to be put down for posterity, so here goes.

Scenic route to B&B
Day 1 & 2: After arriving on Saturday afternoon, we chilled out at my friend Aarti's place for the rest of the day (other than being introduced to London-style grocery shopping ;)). She had already made exciting plans and bookings for us at Cambridge, and we set off soon after breakfast the next day. The most important question of "Train or Car" was answered by her 6 year old who loves trains. This meant passing through the King's Cross Station that is synonymous with Harry Potter for me, though there wasn't enough time to check out Platform 9 and 3/4ths ;). Once we reached Cambridge, we decided to take the scenic route through a nature park area to reach our B&B, The End House, and got there just in time for tea offered by our host, Jonathan. We set out soon after to make the best of the rest of the day, walking through the picturesque streets and making our way to a pub and later a restaurant for dinner.


Tasteful decor at our B&B
Day 3: After a refreshing night, we got ready and had a lovely breakfast at the B&B, which really was so tastefully decorated that it was a pleasure to be look around and appreciate it all.

Thanks to Aarti and her husband Anirudh, who've lived in London for a while, we had a great guided tour of Cambridge which was packed with a whole lot of lovely experiences including punting on a boat on the river and a tour of St. John's College. We even managed to browse and buy a couple of books at a used booksale at one of the small churches, that was meant to raise money for renovations. The day ended with attending Evensong at the King's College Chapel before we absolutely had to leave and get back to London.





Day 4:  This was our most "touristy" day in London, with Aarti going in to work and Jayashree and I setting out, well armed with the Tube (Metro) map and a data connection on her phone. We managed to cover most of the highlights including the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace where we literally ran to try to get to the Change of Guard at 11:30 am. When we saw the crowd there, we dissolved in giggles thinking of what little use our wee bit of exertion had been, as we just could see some glimpses of the happenings through gaps in the crowd :D.  Like the fox with the sour grapes, we told ourselves that it wasn't such a big deal anyway and set out to find lunch and then move to Westminster Abbey. Here, we diligently listened to all the parts of the audio tour to try to understand the majestic space, nodding more vigorously when we recognized at least some of the greats who are buried there. Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery were also dropped in on by evening.

We ended the busy day with a lovely Italian dinner followed by a musical rendition of the Lion King at the Lyseum Theatre, which was something I had been wanting to see ever since our New York trip. It was as spectacular as expected :).

At the Shard
Day 5: We had our London local back as tour guide, which means we managed to get a glimpse of some unusual sights. We started with a local marketplace, the Borough Market, abounding in various food offerings to choose from for our lunch. The next destination was the Shard building, where instead of going to the top just for the view, we decided to go visit a cocktail bar near the top instead - the best way to get a view and an experience ;). After experimenting with selfies and clicks of each other and of our gorgeous drinks, and of course much gossip and giggles, it was time to leave. Next we visited the South Bank where we walked around and had coffees and finally got too late to enter the Tower of London which was to be our last stop for the day :P.




Day 6: We had the most amazing weather that made it ideal for our plan of visiting the Kew Gardens. This is why some photos like the attached one have my friends looking like ants while I try to capture the surroundings in the photo :). We took the tram to the points of interest and also walked around to catch sights like the Japanese Garden, Bluebell fields and the Greenhouse with tropical plants like our very own banana growing in it! The highlight of the afternoon was an English tea session at Orange Pekoe, again thanks to Aarti's research and making the booking for us. After getting back home for a bit, we set out to Ronnie Scott's Jazz Bar  where we also met some friends, followed by dinner at Ceviche which was in Soho.


At the Tower of London
Day 7: We set out bright and early for the Tower of London, determined to make up for missing out on it the last time we tried :). We hung around at the Yeoman's tour for some time, but it was quite crowded and we decided to explore a bit on our own as well. The Crown Jewels and the suits of armor along with the history behind all of the exhibits held our attention for a while, and then we moved on to a coffee meet with an old friend who lived in London.

Day 8: I was leaving only the next day, but Jayashree was returning to Seattle a day earlier. After seeing her off, the morning was spent at another college friend's home. I said this in my previous post too, but there was something about meeting old friends whom I hadn't met in 15+ years -  We could just pick up where we left off even with minimal or no staying of touch in the interim :). We also scouted some bookstores searching for music books for S before heading back home.

Day 9: Off to the airport and a 10 hour flight to get back to the kiddos and to reality ;). They had been in good hands so I had not spent much time worrying about them, other than trying to speak to them every morning.

For those who read this far, thank you :). More pics in my FB album at:
https://www.facebook.com/apster.george/media_set?set=a.10152987341774164.608439163&type=3

9 comments:

  1. Lovely account of what seems to have been a truly memorable holiday, Apu! I have been dreaming of visiting London forever and the birthplace of my favourite literary giants. Hoping it will happen soon.

    In the meanwhile, walking with you virtually through the place was the best thing possible :) So so glad that you had a wonderful time and look forward to more frequent posts from you here :)

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    1. Thanks Shailaja :). Hope you manage to plan that visit sometime soon as well! And hint - all girls' holiday works best ;).

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  2. How lovely, Aparna. I love reading travelogues. I must visit London soon though I've been to UK. Looks like you had a great time on this all girl vacation.

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    1. Thanks so much Rachna :). Yes, I had an amazing time! The mind just keeps going back to it now and again.

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  3. A Very Lovely account for your Holiday . Keep Posting .

    Amit lamba
    Amit lamba

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    1. Thanks for dropping in and for your kind words, Gemstone.

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  4. oh and the trip to Foyles on the last day was super too!

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  5. ok i left a comment before this one which has disappeared into ether... was just saying that apart from the big attractions & the sheer pleasure of hanging out again, some minor activities / random meanderings were so much fun - the book sale in Cambridge, walking through and browsing at the BFI, high fiving the waiter at Ceviche :-)

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    1. Oh yes Aarti, that waiter hi-five and the first round of shots was definitely memorable ;). The post was getting too wordy, so had to edit out a bit :D. We must do something like this again and soon!

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