Lisa, me and two rucksacks. We left from Den Haag Centraal station at 8 PM, destination… London! By bus! Yep, it took 13 hours to get there and yep, we crossed the Channel! SO COOL.
We arrived in London around 5.30 AM, we were exhausted, the city was stil asleep and we decided to wander around and enjoy the sunrise waiting for cafés to open, we were in need of refreshment… Tea and biscuits… So much! The city slowly awoke and we then walked to Federico’s, a former university mate of ours, who kindly hosted us. We got there, put down our rucksacks, refreshed and it was time to go!
I had already been to London twice and I have always loved it, loved its cozy atmosphere wrapping you while you walk. First stop: the Tate Modern, well-known museum of modern art, where we really had a lot of fun trying to interpret the artworks. We quickly had lunch at Carluccio’s, where Federico was working, then we walked all day long, took pictures, sipped a cup of tea and chatted for so long that we didn’t even realise it was already 9 PM! We were too tired to keep going so we went home and got to sleep!! The following day we got back on our feet and woke up at 9 to visit the British Museum and the main hotspots in London such as Buckingham Palace, the Big Ben, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, the Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. We only spent a few days there but we wanted to visit all the monuments! That evening the Lighting of the Christmas Tree in Trafalgar Square took place, with gospel choirs and speeches given by some important people. The Tree has indeed a story: first of all, this event is considered the real start of the festivities, the Brits are crazy for Christmas and they switch to light the illuminations in November already.
It takes place every year and it’s a present… Yep! A present from Norway to the United Kingdom as gratitudine for its help during the II World War, when was Norway was invaded by the Nazis. During that period the Norwegian Royal Family found shelter and asylum on British territory, where the created an exile government to manage the troops at war. This tradition started indeed in 1947. Careful though, the fir is selected during a ceremony held in Oslo at the beginning of November and that is not just any fir tree, it has to be at least 20mt high and 60 years old. Such waste.
The cut of this poor tree is celebrated with children singing and screaming Christmas songs. After the Lighting we went to a pub that served good wine and cheese, we warmed up a little bit and the off for a walk through London at night, with its crowded streets and people cheering for the start of Christmas.
Of course, we couldn’t miss the National Gallery and the Museum of Natural history, where you can cross real dinosaurs! You should take your children there, they’d love it and they would never want to leave! Just like us, we stayed almost three hours in there.
Must-do: walk through Hyde Park, petting squirrels!!
We obviously visited Camden Town, where (happily for Lisa and me) we found stands with goods from all over the world!! We tried everything we could and there I ate the best Temaki of my life, crunchy and juicy at the same time! We were taking a tour around Portobello Road, photos in front of the Blue Door in Notting Hill when suddenly a group of guys started singing a cappella! We listened to them for more than an hour.
London is marvellous, energetic, romantic, chaotic… But Christmas time is surely magical!
- London is quite expensive, but at least all cultural hotspots are free;
- I suggest having the Oyster Card, which is a travel card and you can pay as you go or buy a pass. A subway ride usually costs 3.50£, so I suggest buying a week pass that costs around 40£. For any further information visit the blog Travel Like a Local, which is surely helpful about London!