Sunday, June 29, 2014

Eurocruise 26/05 London

Well, we have two full days in London. What to do? Marie from After 60 - the next 10 had kindly offered to show us around somewhere, we knew not where and I was a little stressed about shoving a complete stranger onto R. It was a bit last minute as Marie had a lot on her plate at the time, with her first grand-daughter about to be born. The well travelled Marie turned out to be as lovely and warm as I expected, and she has a great knowledge of London and a good bit of the world too.

After a fine buffet breakfast in our hotel, which was included in the price, (pity wi-fi wasn't), we met Marie in the hotel foyer at 10.30 and headed to Lancaster Gate Tube Station and took the Central Line. Why did we not take Marie's photo, really, ask someone to take a photo of the three of us? I have stolen this one from her blog taken when she walked most of the way from east coast to west coast.

We changed at Bank to the DLR, Docklands Light Rail, and travelled on to East India. Hang on, where is the train driver? There wasn't one. 

No driver. The DLR ran well enough without a driver.

What is that? A chair lift?

So nice that high rise buildings are kept out of on historic part of London. Why on earth did that not happen in Australia? High rise buildings are in the docks, east London area though.

This is the O2 building. I puzzled about it, until Marie said it was once the Millennium Dome. Of course.

We arrived at East India Station  and took a decent walk to Trinity Wharf, where trees grow out of taxi cab roofs. The cab was meticulously clean. (if you think the tree is behind the taxi, no, it does come out of its roof)

I do like a big buoy.

We did not last long on our day's outing before requiring coffee.

What a terrific place for coffee, right on the water.

Next to the stove were some tradies having morning tea.

Container offices.

Container housing.

A container restaurant.

Closer to the chair lift now. Shall we travel on it across the Thames?

The O2 building was omnipresent.

Some interesting metal art works were spread around Trinity Wharf.

We walked back to Emirates Royal Docks. An air line? Are we going to fly across the Thames? No, Emirates owns the concession to run the the chair lift. Marie sorted out the person loading the gondola, a jovial immigrant from Mauritius, so we had one gondola to ourselves. Mentioning that we were visitors from Australia helped. And, we just paid a reduced fare with our Oyster Cards, bought at Kings Cross Station when we first arrived.

The views were terrific.

Oh, are we looking towards where Pants lived?

Mid photo, the Thames flood barriers are visible. We once saw a film about them being sabotaged, but that is as much as I can remember.

Did I say the O2 was omnipresent? 

It was a steep descent to the terminal in North Greenwich .

Why didn't we in Melbourne save at least one gasometer, as this one's skeleton was saved.

The O2 could be described as a multi purpose venue.

I am a little confused about how we travelled to Greenwich Village. I thought it was a Tube train then DLR, but maybe not.

Look, there is the Gherkin and the Cheese Grater in the distance.

The Cutty Sark is the last tea clipper ship, presumably running between India and London.

Greenwich Village had a lively atmosphere, well, not this bit so much.

I think that is the Observatory at the back of the scene, from where of course we get Greenwich Mean Time.

We had a light lunch in the lovely Yacht Hotel, right on the edge of the river. When we were last in London, 2008, we found the service perfunctory at best. This trip, we could not fault it, with most of the staff being very friendly too. The same went for the already travelled Europe.

If you would like to know more about The Queen's House, Marie has written about it here.

Would Sir like eels with his pie and mash? Nah.

We rather liked it ourselves.

We separated from Marie mid afternoon, who had shown us a very interesting part of London that we would not have ever thought to see ourselves. It was back to Bank on the DLR to change to the Central Line for Lancaster Gate.

Bank is the busiest Tube station on the network, and I would add a difficult one. The signage is excellent, as it is for all Tube stations, but while it might be an exaggeration to say it took ten minutes walking to change lines, it certainly felt like it. Upstairs, downstairs, around and around in a seeming circle, up and down more stairs, until we finally reached our platform. Tube stations are so different to what we have in Australia, even our underground stations. Space is at a premium in London and it shows. I understand renovations will happen to Bank, finishing in 2020.

I just like saying this as we returned to our hotel. Bank, St Pauls, Chancery Lane, Holborn, Tottenham Court Road, Oxford Circus, Bond Street and then our station, Lancaster Gate.

Nothing quite like a good embrocation.

The weather had held out for us during the day, but that evening it started to rain. Light English/European rain, but still rain. We walked not too far to The Swan on Bayswater Road, opposite Hyde Park, and had nice meal meal upstairs in the pub. Pub meals in England seemed incredibly good value.

No higher compliment can be paid to anyone than  R saying, 'Wasn't Marie really nice and what a great day'.

PS Two days later Marie's grand-daughter Emma was born.


  1. How nice to have (yet another) positive blog meet. And it does look like an amazing day.
    Love the quirky art works.

    1. It was nice indeed EC. Where the art was is such an interesting place.

  2. Andrew, so nice you have met your blogger friend. I have never traveled by gondola but I will do it next time. The O2 is very interesting and omnipotent definitely you are right. It's impressive building. I love the Greenwich Village I took photos at the same places as you. The world is a small village is true.

    1. Gosia, the gondola is well worth doing and cheap enough. Greenwich Village had a great buzz to it. Just shortly after we were there, so were you.

  3. Well that was interesting I never saw any thing like that when I was in London, but the locals always make the best guides.
    No train driver, I still getting over that.

    1. Merle, yes, things local people know about but most tourists don't, although I did know of the chairlift. It is reasonably new line, I think designed to run without drivers.

  4. Loving reading about your trip. And yes, it's always great when someone can show you a different side of the city they live in. Happy belated birthday! (Only just worked out how to be able to comment by creating a Google account :)

    1. Thanks Rob. Birthday? October last year? Very belated. :)

  5. Most of your photos haven't loaded, I'll come back to see them. I'm impressed with the container housing and the Cutty Sark. I didn't know she was still sailing.

    1. River, Sunday night and school holidays. The net is flowing like cold treacle tonight. The Cutty Sark is dry docked. She won't be sailing again.

  6. Oh, I've come over all home away from homesick! Great pics.

    1. Fen, London is a very special place.

  7. It seems you had a full and interesting day - a great collection of photos. I'd heard the east end was largely re-built for the olympics - would you say it appears gentrified, or have some of the "old" locals still got a place there?

    1. FC, you are wise and already know. I don't think there is a place for the old locals where we were, even though it was historic. But where Pants lived, opposite the Olympic Park area, yes, Hackney and Hackney Wick is the Smith Street of five years ago.

  8. So awesome of Marie to do this. And those Gondolas look so unique. I have never seen anything like that over here. I'm not a fan of heights though so I don't see myself in one of those lol.

  9. Keith, indeed Marie was awesome, as were Jane and Lance in Budapest who also showed us sights. I would like to do the same for someone who came to visit Melbourne. Some people use the gondalas as public transport to get to work.

  10. Interesting to see what can be done with a container Andrew. Sounds like you had a wonderful guide in Marie, although she did take you up in the cable car thingy.. oh hang on heights don't bother you right :) The O2 building is incredible, also the Shard and the gherkin, still prefer the Older traditional architecture in London though.

    1. Grace, apart from stand out modern buildings such as those above which are generally liked, I love the way streetscapes have been kept intact, with even new buildings settling nicely in with the old. Much the same in Paris, I expect, and most historic European cities.

  11. I met Marie last year in London, this year we didn't manage, as I was with my 3 Belgian friends and one was sick. But we will see each other in August again, when I go back to London. I know London quite well, my son lived there for 10 years !

    1. Gattina, I remember you meeting Marie. I am sure she will look forward to seeing you again.