A Travellerspoint blog

goodbye London

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large_5c5998c0-eb1f-11e9-8c92-ad76a9ae9aa6.jpgAnd so, another trip comes to an end. I look back and I think - was this really a trip or just a set of arrivals and departures all stitched together?! I woke up rather early, everyone in the hostel was asleep so I quietly tiptoed with my suitcase - left it at the basement and headed to breakfast.

took a nice long walk across Knightsbridge and then the Tube to the Picadilly Circus area. One of my most recent traditions in London [London-travel-guide-364480] has been hot chocolate at the Leicester Sq. Pret. I tried a coconut flavoured one this time, before heading back to Earls Court [Earls-Court-travel-guide-1253267] by 10am. Grabbed my suitcase, and walked back to the Tube to head to T5.

The ride was ho-hum - reached well within time, checked in and spent time at the lounge before boarding my flight to Bengaluru.


Posted by vikramonthemove 17:00 Archived in England Comments (0)

Yes, THAT picturesque hill!

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large_5f443590-eb1f-11e9-a1c1-4195dec69b11.jpgShaftesbury Gold Hill (aka Hovis Hill for those that remember the Hovis biscuits ad from the 70s)Add another one to "finally made it" list! I must admit, I wasn't old enough, or didn't pay attention to the Hovis Hill biscuit ad back in the day. But I do recall a friend of mine visiting this place 2-3 years ago and that was enough to get me all excited. The only thing that held me back from visiting was - I always thought I'd base myself in Bath [Bath-travel-guide-362829] for some more time to visit a whole host of towns in the area. And then, I figured that's never going to happen! So I instead decided to, just do it!

Getting to Shaftesbury [Shaftesbury-travel-guide-365235] isn't really half the fun! It's no fun at all. It was a long train ride from London [London-travel-guide-364480]'s Waterloo to Gillingham [Gillingham-travel-guide-1254073] where one has to change a bus that's hourly at most.large_5f4a7720-eb1f-11e9-b4d3-bd391f89a370.jpgThe other side of Gold Hill!It happens to come to the train station about 10 minutes after the train stops. So you'd better hope the train doesn't get delayed!

Fortunately for me, there was free wifi on the Southwestern Trains, so I could easily kill time. The train arrived on time in Gillingham station, walked outside and found the bus stop. The bus to Shaftesbury arrived within 10 minutes and I was off I went through the Dorset greens to Shaftesbury. The ride, as per, was brilliant. Mellow weather with some very understated yet powerful scenery - all in all, was great. The bus ride took about 20 minutes tops, and before you know it, I was standing in front of the city centre. There was a map so I made my way to - well, the biggest reason folks come here: Gold Hill! I have to say, finding it was easy, and the "unravelling" of it was even better: you have a narrow strip between 2 buildings through which you get a sneak peak.large_5f406500-eb1f-11e9-a746-5b5268b3f1bd.jpg ... and then walk through that little passage way, lo and behold - the famous hill in front of your very own eyes. It's really everything you read about in the books! I stood here and took photos like my life depended on it. And after about 15 minutes, it was off to the other attraction.

Shaftesbury Abbey Museum is built on the same spot as the Abbey, and tells the story about the benedictine convent, the inhabitents and the first Abbess of this place. There are some remains, some mosaic tiles, etc. all of which are presumed to have been excarvated over a lengthy period of time. I spent about an hour here. It doesn't need that long, but I liked the garden and the views of the valley nearby.

After my visit to the museum (and a great audio guide I must add!), I walked along the promenade overlooking the valley, and then at the very end, took a steep cobbled footpath down the hill to the lower town.large_5f485440-eb1f-11e9-8925-c3786ea5dcc2.jpg The houses were all empty, not a peep on the street. Or, to quote my American friends - you could hear crickets! I walked till the main circle where I came across a church, came back - admired a garden and ended up chatting with the gardener who's also the owner of the house! And then continued on for a pub lunch.

I then strolled along those beautiful roads with colourful doors and then reached the base of Gold Hill - so walked up - t took more photos and then headed to the bus stop. I had a few minutes for my bus to peeped into a church. And then I waited for the bus. Recall that I had only 10 minutes' time between the arrival of the bus to Gillingham and the departure of the train back to London. And i waited...and waited.... and finally the bus showed up - a good 20 minutes late! Another local (kid) told me that the buses here are always late.large_5f42aef0-eb1f-11e9-b9ea-9fe21ae0f734.jpg So when I got to Gillingham, the train had already left. I had a good hour to kill here, so I ended up going to a nearby Waitrose, doing a spot of shopping and then returned, had coffee at an independant coffee shop till about when I train arrived.

The journey to London was uneventful, I slept for a good portion. Returned to the hostel - packed and then wandered a bit in the rain.


Posted by vikramonthemove 17:00 Archived in England Comments (0)

Hello London!

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large_5cb17cc0-eb1f-11e9-bb94-3bdd6e3270a0.jpgThere's our BA landing at SEA-TACIt was the most bizarre thing. All I know is that I landed in Seattle, did my laundry, went to the hindu temple and slept on Sunday night. I arose rather early on Monday morning, had my ginger chai and after a couple of meetings, I was back on the Uber for the first of 2 BA dailies to Heathrow [Heathrow-travel-guide-1254813].

Normally, BA flies the 77W (for the afternoon departure) and the 747 for the evening one. But surprisingly the order was reversed. I'm not a fan of the 747 as it's noisier. And to make things worse, we got a battered old one for the journey. However, what I like about it, particularly the upper deck or "The bubble" is that it's so quiet. And feels so "private". Funnily enough, 1 of the crew was from yesterday's flight so she was quite surprised when she recognised me.large_5cb91de0-eb1f-11e9-81ce-9b4857ef72f1.jpgLanding...LOL! Sweet thing, she asked me if I got good rest. And whilst I thanked her, I asked her if she did. As I could always afford to sleep on the flight (which I did, anyway) but she couldn't. We joked about it. She even remembered my drink preferences whilst on BA and ensured my Brut Rose glass was never dry!

I slept fairly well. The food was kind of average and we landed on time in LHR and were quickly parked at the gate. I needed to get some office work done so I spent time in Heathrow attending to office email and left close to noon! I couldn't get into Earls Court [Earls-Court-travel-guide-1253267] this time so had to settle into a new hostel. It surprisingly started raining on my way out of Gloucester Road tube stop so I was soaking wet by the time I reached the hostel. Read review of the Curzon House Hotel below. Plus, I couldn't really use my phone's GPS as it would get wet. Fortunately, I found it - and my, the location is brilliant!!

The worst part was that the shared room, way on top (4th floor) and it was a pain climbing through those winding stairwells. I shut my eyes for a bit, and headed out shortly after 1pm. I met my "roomate" - one was a software CEO who just got divorced and was living here whilst his wife and daughter were living in their house in West London.

From here, it was down to Earls Court and onwards to Waterloo to catch my train to St. Albans.....


Posted by vikramonthemove 17:00 Archived in England Comments (0)

Been meaning to tick it off the list since 2005!

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large_59d44d70-eb1f-11e9-a7e1-590cd318c989.jpgRandom shot of the town from the public park. An example of why I love England so much - no one does natural gardens like them!2005 was when I first heard about St. Albans. It was mentioned to me on Tripadvisor when I was looking for a day trip near London [London-travel-guide-364480]. I did eventually visit with a few friends in 2008 but it was touch and go - we ended up having waffles at an outdoor cafe and that was that. So you can imagine my delight whne I finally told myself - time to go!

Fortunately, getting to St.Albans is so darn easy from London you'd think that it was just another tube stop. I caught what was one of several trains from Waterloo and was in the city proper within 30 minutes. It was a fairly comfy train ride. The weather was amazing - spots of rain in and out but ok for the most part.

It's a somewhat long (but straight) walk from the railway station, it was drizzling on and off but it was just nice being back.large_5975b2b0-eb1f-11e9-a36a-39387592786d.jpgSt. Albans Cathedral (read review for more photos)I must admit though that I was feeling quite tired given all the travel, and so many versions of jetlag to get over! My first stop was, but of course, the famed Cathedral (see review).

From here, I walked through the narrow cobblestone roads of the honeycomb houses to the Verulamiam Museum. This museum, and pretty much the town is built on what is supposedly the largest Roman settlement in the UK. It traces their lives, what a typical household and workplace looked like, etc. It even has some fancy replicas of tiles and other such. It was quite nice, although I must say it's a lot smaller than I thought it would be.

For the return, I opted to walk through the really amazing park that separates this part of town and the Cathedral. it's so big, and so well maintained. There's a lake in the middle of the park. I returned to the Cathedral, then proceeded to walk through the old town. There wasn't much happening here. And then walked back to the train station to catch one of the several trains headed back to London.

I had to meet my mate's BIL (who works near the Cannon St. tube stop). So that was good catching up with him. Returned to Gloucester Road, poppped into a Pret for their mexican wrap, and then headed to the hostel for some well dserved shuteye. I was tired!


Posted by vikramonthemove 17:00 Archived in England Comments (0)

Goodbye London!

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Another sunny day! I woke up quite early and went for a quick walk around town. The dude above my bunker was a Latvian who was meeting his Spanish gf's brother and his gf in London [London-travel-guide-364480], so he was quite nervous the previous evening. He gave me an unwanted update at breakfast. Very annoying. But to balance that at breakfast was a very charming Canadian bred S African (now living in the midlands), so we were talking about B.C, etc.

I left for Heathrow quite early ( for my standards that is) - around 1130a! I was there a little past noon, checked in and spent time at the lounge before boarding my flight


Posted by vikramonthemove 17:00 Archived in England Comments (0)

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