Westminster, St James's Park and Italian food
Big Ben, red buses and tea are the three things that instantly come to my mind when one talks about London (and also Freddie Highmore, but that's more subjective). Until a few weeks ago, it was a place I could only picture in mind from what I heard and saw on television. It might seem easy for a French to cross the Channel and spend one or two days shopping in the capital, and I can't agree more, but my family has always been more of a let's-go-as-far-as-possible wanderluster kind when it comes to travelling abroad all together. Yet, I could finally set foot on the british soil for the first time late last June, during a four-day three-night trip, and I can tell you it was enough to make me fall in love with it. Even if I found myself being more of a tourist than a regular girl sitting in cafés, let me share about this vibrant city I was pleased to discover with my camera.
After eating a croissant for lunch at Paris Gare du Nord, I got in that fast Eurostar* which traverses the Channel Tunnel, and arrived at St Pancras International by the early afternoon. The first thing that stroke me was how chic this Victorian station was. It was luminous and welcoming. Now note that it was only the beginning on my constant awe in any London street. We first took the Hammersmith & City line and changed at Edgware Road station for the Circle line to get to our hotel. We walked about ten minutes to find dozen of quite identical white façades and narrow entries that all showed a reception sign. As the evening was already showing up, we only had time to go somewhere our feet could bring us, that is to say the very near Kensington garden. The Kensington Palace was unfortunately closed, I'm sure they were having a crazy tea party - ok, it was basically just too late for visits time (10:00am - 5:00pm). On our way back to the hotel, we just walked aimlessly in these good-looking streets. They are pretty attractive, yes. From these bright white houses with colorful doors to red-brick walls and chemist laboratories looking buildings. This is a perfect atmosphere to have a quiet walk in London when not in the numerous green parks.
* I expected it to be a comfortable spacious TGV-ish train where they would provide you freshly made sandwitches and free instant iced coffee thought, that would be nice.
The second day, we all put our happy tourist caps to go explore the city – but more seriously, we litteraly had to put hats and apply layers of sun cream not to turn into a fried egg under that 35°C. We started our last-minute-self-improvised course with Westminster, with the famous Big Ben, and arrived right on time to hear it rings. From there you can enjoy a delightful view of the London Eye over the Thames. We then seeked for pelicans in St James Park but I guess they are as sensitive to the heat as we are, we only saw this little boy cutely chuckling at the gooses. We reached Buckingham Palace around 11am and had chance to see the Guard changing ceremony - how lucky they decided this day to do it one hour earlier than usual. If you've a free afternoon, you will totally be pleased to take a rest in Green Park which is located just next to it, with a book and fresh lemonade. We only passed it by but it supports London really has awesome, large and pleasant green parks where it feels nice to breathe.
We had lunch at San Carlo Cicchetti, a traditional Italian restaurant near Picadilly Circus, where we ordered tomato bruschetta, mussel and shrimp pasta, bolonese tagliatelle and that awesome vongole chili spaghetti. It is clearly impossible to say no to a clam, olive oil and pasta combination. We kept on walking down Picadilly street, looking at all its nice brand stores, and had a turn to find the National Gallery. How ironic it is to go see Monet paintings when you've the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, but, whatever, it was interesting to also see some famous Van Gogh pieces. You can also find the Portrait Gallery next to the museum, or simply enjoy Trafalgar Square fountains on the outisde. Not sure if the next place we went to is a must-see for any basic tourists, but it definitely is for any Benedict Cumberbatch or Conan Doyle fans. Yes, 221B, Baker Street. Despite the site has been chosen to be a faithful museum of Sherlock house for Sherlock fans, they let the house as build in the early 19th century which gives you that strong, impressive feeling. All the realistic details make you travel from a novel to one another, and you'll find yourself feeling special being in Watson's room or sitting in Holmes's chair - well, not sure which one of my mother or I was the more excited over this. Talking about youth reminiscence, my parents couldn't miss a detour by Abbey Road where The Beatles took that worldwilde known picture on the crosswalk near their studio. St John's Wood is what'smore the next station after Baker street on Jubilee line. Our day finished with one or two beers in a pub, hamburger and salad and chilling in our two-floor hotel room.
More museums, Indian food and green parks?
Stay tuned for the second part of this London trip!