After a hiatus from travelling, I paid a visit to London. For a change, this was more of a people-meeting trip than a travelling trip. Since I didn’t get a chance to travel to the US in the last few years, I ended up visiting London to meet a close friend there.
It was the first time I took the Eurostar train from Amsterdam. I enjoyed how unceremonious the whole security, immigration and boarding process was.
“The sprawl” that’s the word which resonates the most when I try to describe the place. Every spot in this sprawling city has a unique look and feel – unlike Amsterdam, where it took me a few years to tell neighbourhoods apart. A microcosm of dwellers, businesses and people going in between them through loud tube trains keeps the city humming. At times it felt very New-York-esque, cleaner, more expensive and sparser in garbage bins, and devoid of the egregious tipping culture.
Here are some pictures that I managed to capture on my strolls. I stayed at a hotel on this street with my friend. The juxtaposition of old victorian style buildings against a backdrop of tall skyscrapers is fascinating and even a little dystopian.
Long lines dissuaded me from visiting the Natural History Museum 5 years ago. Being here during the week helped me get in without too much trouble this time. The fact that museums are free blows my mind. I still have good memories from my visit to the RAF Museum in London 5 years ago.
There is something quite impressive about the bridges in London. They are dramatic in their standing in contrast to the quaint ones I am used to in Amsterdam.
I walked around the Thames for a while, and when I reached a dead end, I spotted a service ladder and helped myself back onto the streets.
Once back up, I loitered around, searching for a spot to catch some sunshine. This particular spot had a very Assassins-creed vibe. I enjoyed contemplating where the hidden hay mound would lay as I waited for my colleague to join me for an impromptu coffee.
The ubiquity of tube transport never ceases to amaze me. However, such large projects don’t get planned or built any more as the political climate clings to the present gains rather than envisioning the future.
Using a phone to tap in and out was a refreshing change. I no longer have to fumble getting a card, funding it regularly and keeping it topped up. For someone who is just a visitor, it made exploring the city more accessible.
The frequency of trains could put a lot of cities to shame. That alone compensates for the unpleasantness of how loud it is in the underground. On average, the noise levels reached 82db, and my watch kept throwing alerts about that fact.
One cannot not talk about how the red buses stand out. Unfortunately, I couldn’t spot enough of the iconic red telephone boxes, which, when I did, weren’t in great shape.
To wrap up the trip, I spent some time at a cafe with a lovely friend. The place’s name, “Kaffeine”, triggered a nostalgia I couldn’t place at that moment. Which later turned out to be this KDE/Linux thing (i.e. Kaffeine media player) from my college days, where I spent quite some time trying to get music to play on various Linux distros. And in the Netherlands, the drink is spelt Koffie, which also played a part.
Airports are one of my favourite places. Getting on a flight after three years was both never wracking and exciting. And I promptly fell asleep after devouring a quesadilla that I sneaked onto the plane from the airport.