While we were just here in May, we decided to start our three month journey with a few days back in London for a bit more sightseeing and time to catch-up to our jet lag.
Rail Strike = Walking Day
While we always take the Tube to get around London, that wasn’t an option today. Rail strikes are generally publicized and with the strike happening today, it became a walking day.
The first stop of the day was Paul’s for a freshly made croissant and a Forrest croquette (grilled mushroom and cheese sandwich) along with a couple cappuccinos to supercharge the morning.
Holland Park is one of the largest parks in the Royal Borough. It is over 54 acres in size and was once the grounds of a castle. Only a small section of the castle survived WW2 and is now a youth hostel.
Holland Park is also the base of the areas Ecology Service that runs many events throughout the year and a very active wildlife club for children.
One of the most beautiful parts of the park is the Kyoto Garden. This was designed and built by a Japanese Garden designer and his team to celebrate the Japan Festival in London in 1992. It is a beautiful area of the park where families come to watch the wildlife and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.
No trip would be complete for me unless we visit a cemetery. Brompton Cemetery is considered to be one of the Magnificent Seven private cemeteries in London. It is one of Britain’s oldest cemeteries opening in 1840 and contains over 35,000 monuments to mark the burial locations of over 200,000 resting places.
It is an interesting place to walk through as it has a park- like feeling. Many people are seen here walking their dogs, riding bikes and feeding the birds. Beatrice Potter used to walk in this park daily and it is said that many of the names she used for her characters came from some of the monuments. It is such a pretty place full of wildlife, trees, grasses and monuments.
While we weren’t able to take a tour of the stadium, we were able to get a picture outside the front gate. Big game tonight with Chelsea playing AC Milan. In other words, that’s about 41,000 fans in our neighborhood tonight with no ticket to be had for Poot Jeff. I’m guessing that’s why we have seen so many Bobbies outside the pub.
A Trip Across the Thames – Greenwich Village
We had a rather long trek to get to Greenwich Village this morning – just over an hour. We hopped onto the Green Line subway and rode it for 21 stops to the east. We then exited the subway station and headed to the Light Rail (on top of the ground) Station about 3 blocks away. The light rail took us down to the Quays (pronounced keys) where we arrived at the edge of the River Thames. From here, we took the circular staircase that led us down into a tunnel that runs under the river for the walk across to Greenwich.
When you exit the tunnel, you are standing in front of the Cutty Sark (ship – not a giant bottle of alcohol) and lots of shoppes and restaurants of all types. Our mission today is to visit the Naval College.
The Painted Hall – Old Royal Naval College
This was once the location of Greenwich Palace and the birthplace of Henry VIII and Elizabeth the I. The original building was neglected and demolished after the English Civil War.
Queen Mary II had the current building built as an institution to care for the men who served in the Royal Navy. It then became the Royal Naval College to train British Officers.
The Painted Hall was built as a grand dining room for the Navy and today it draws millions of visitors as well as being used as a backdrop for many movies and television series. Such shows include: Bridgerton, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Cruella and Victoria and Abdul.
Heading Into London’s East End
The East End has certainly had a very dark history. This is the area where Jack the Ripper stalked his prey and the Huguenots fled to from France to escape prosecution. Interesting note: The Huguenots introduced the word refugee into the English language (from the French réfugié).
Today the East End is known as the next up and coming area to London. It has a large Indian population and a thriving street art community where the art can change daily. It’s the home of the artist Banksy and the best place to get a great curry meal in the whole of London (we highly recommend Bengal Village).
Many companies have evening Jack the Ripper tours and there are also many food and art based walking tours. There is so much construction going on in the area and it is a great place to visit, see the sights and then finish up your day with a little shopping at Spitalfields Market.