London

London Vs Paris

I thought I’d do a little comparison between two great capital cities; London and Paris, having fairly recently visited both.  We may think of Europe and it’s strange foreign ways as being a totally different universe but what was remarkable was how similar they both were!

Architecture

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Both of these cities are old.  London dates back to about 50 AD, but Paris was a small fishing village in around 250 BC.  Obviously, things have change, grown, and developed since then but not surprisingly there are plenty of impressive old buildings still standing.  On the right is St Paul’s Cathedral in London, and on the left is Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.  Construction start on Notre Dame in 1163, and St Paul’s was consecrated in 1300.  They both remain big tourist attractions.  Of course construction continues and St Paul’s is now crowded by modern buildings.  In Paris, there seems to be less of these modern abominations and more of the old town.

Tourists

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Paris drove me a little crazy as it was so busy.  This may be the main way it reminded me of London; there were people everywhere. It was always busy.  Apart from Sunday morning when it was absolutely dead!

Food

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Ah, food!  The most important thing!  The main problem for me in France is the lack of vegetarian food.  The UK isn’t always fantastic but at least I know I can go into any restaurant and they will be able to provide me with something I can eat.  Not so in France where meat remains a staple.  Our trip to London was quite hipstery and I did eat my first smashed avocado on toast with poached egg.  In Paris, the avocado did feature on a few menus although Google translate thought advocat toast was a toast lawyer…I did get some camembert though. In Paris a lot of the restaurants closed at 2pm and reopened at 7pm which was a little annoying, and weirdly they give you bread with your as not as a starter.  Both cities are expensive!

Culture

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On the right I’m at the British Museum, on the left is The Louvre.  Both London and Paris have a range of large art galleries and museums.  They both get busy at peak times, they both have great exhibitions, they are all worth a visit.  The British Museum, The Victoria and Albert Museum, The Natural History Museum, The Science Museum in London are all free. The Lourve costs 17euro, The Cite des science et de l’industrie costs 12euro, the Musee d’Orsay costs 12euros, the Centre Pompidou costs 14euros.  That’s your difference.

In conclusion, they are both beautiful, interesting, busy, expensive, exciting places to visit.  In my mind London wins, because if I lived in France I might starve!

What do you think?  Any preference?

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2017 Travel Review

My biggest trip this year was not that far in physical distance but represented a major change in my life.  In February I moved in with my boyfriend which was exciting and, as it turned out, not too dramatic!  But I have been on a few more interesting journies this year too.

March

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Victoria and Albert Museum Cafe

In March, I received an early birthday present from my mum in the form of a trip to London.  We took an early(ish) train down there and headed to the Victoria and Albert Museum, which I always seem to end up at when I visit our fair capital.  We left early so that we could see a bit of London, mainly just the walk from the V and A to the train station but still…

April

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Manhattan from The High Line

April 3rd this year was my 30th birthday so we took a special trip to America. We hit New York checking and Washington DC.  Highlights include checking out The High Line (an old railroad turned park), taking a trip out to Brooklyn, $4 a slice pizza, The Capitol Building which I fell in love with, and The Postal Museum (no, really, I love stamps).  The major lowlight were a three day migraine :(, the torrential rain, and being harassed by a waitress for not tipping her enough.

July

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Arthur’s Seat

After a big (expensive) trip to the US we spent our summer holiday in a very rainy Edinburgh.  I guess it was classic British summer weather but it was still quite miserable, we were soaked as soon as we arrived.  We managed to climb up to Aurthur’s Seat, eat sushi, and enjoy a stroll through the Botanical Gardens so not all bad.  Also got to see my sister and niece!

October

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National Art Museum

For my mum’s birthday, which is in December, mum, sister and I took a trip to Riga, Latvia in October.  Anyway, it was very cold but enjoyable.  We visited the National Art Museum and the, slightly less cheerful, Museum of Occupation.  The Eastern Bloc countries had such horrible experiences in the second half of the 20th century!  Riga has a lovely old town to explore, and I recommend crossing the river to visit the National Library.

November

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Sunset over Greenwich Observatory

I finished my 2017 travels the same way I started with a trip to London.  We celebrated boyfriend’s birthday there in November.  Another holiday, another illness befalls me. Not really an illness but I had period pains throughout this getaway that seriously undermined my enjoyment, and put me in a slightly grumpy mood.  But we got to visit the Greenwich Observatory and see a Planetarium show, checked out a bunch of museums, bought expensive chocolate at Fortnum and Mason, and experience my first crushed avocado with poached egg on toast.

 

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OKA Sushi, London

Boyfriend demanded (ok, politely suggested) sushi for our first night in London.   As it was his birthday, and I like Japanese food, I allowed this and found us OKA which was highly rated and nearby.  london1

I didn’t realise it was located inside a little shopping centre and food court.  But it was all decked out for Christmas (this was in November), and it was a fancy yuppie food court.  This was a hipster holiday.  It’s quite small so I think we were lucky to get a table.  I got vegetable tempura, avocado maki, and Jasmine green tea- so pretty much my usual.  It was pretty good, although honestly not the best I’ve ever had.  I finished up with the matcha and white chocolate cake which I found a bit too sweet, especially with the accompanying ice cream.  Boyfriend was going to share one with me but they had nuts, he has an allergy, it’s not a good mix.

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London- The Natural History Museum

Collages1We headed into The Natural History Museum, which is always popular. It’s free entry, apart from the temporary exhibitions and I like it better than the museum in New York, although that may be because they charged me $26!

We visited the earthquake area where they still have the mock up of a Kobe supermarket, and you can experience the 1995 Kobe earthquake in the simulator.  We headed onwards to find the animals (ok let’s face it, I was looking for the dinosaurs), and saw some extinct specimens like dodos, and the skeleton of an extinct giant sloth.

It was pretty busy for a Friday afternoon and we had to push through the throngs in the popular exhibits.  Like the main hall where the skeleton of a blue whale has recently replaced Dippy the Diplodocus.  This was the controversial move, but Dippy was a plaster cast while the blue whale is a genuine skeleton.

Finally we found the most exciting part, A REAL LIVE (animatronic) T-REX!!!  It’s tucked around a corner but there’s always a little group of people getting their shots of the rampaging T-Rex (not really rampaging!).

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Fortnum and Mason and Harrods

Whilst in London I wanted to do a small amount of Christmas shopping, mainly just fancy chocolate!

Fortnum and Mason

So after dinner we headed to Fortnum and Mason for a wander around.  I had been in there once before and got very distracted by fancy tea, there Green Jasmine is fairly delicious.  I didn’t realise that it was spread over several floors.   Fortnum and Mason was, and still is, famous for it’s hampers which are very expensive wicker boxes full of luxury booze, chocolates, and meat type products.  I’ve never bought one myself, I wouldn’t want to eat most of the stuff in it and they cost in the hundreds of pounds.  london4

You really question whether the stuff is worth the price, I have found the tea nice and boyfriend enjoyed his £6 chocolate bar, although he valued it at about £4.50.  The fact that it’s so expensive becomes part of the appeal for people I’m sure.  But the £40 shower caps were my breaking point…(they were crappy plastic ones with flowers stuck on wtf?!?!)

Harrods

On Friday morning we stopped off at Harrods before we headed to the museums.  It was Black Friday and boyfriend was having some kind of breakdown in advance of what he thought would be hoards of sale shoppers.  However, Harrods did not appear to have any Black Friday offers because why would it?  Anyway, we wandered in circles around the food hall getting frustrated.  It’s been a long time since I actually went for a look around in Harrods, it’s always horribly busy.  When I was a teenager I went upstairs to the kids section and bought a pen which was thrilling.  Anyway, they had some fun window displays with animatronic shop assistant.

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Cosmoba, Italian Restaurant London

I really hate the Cosmoba website, it’s corporate black and barbie pink.  It doesn’t reflect the restaurant at all.  Cosmoba is a family run Italian restaurant, or ristorante! It’s not huge, but we managed to sneak a table on Friday night.  It was quite Christmassy when we were there, there was a pyramid of panatone in the window, as well as twinkling lights.

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I had one of the specials, which was gnocchi, walnuts, and pear (pear was a bit weird but it was still yummy). Boyfriend had lasagna, and we both had a lovely time.

 

 

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Greenwich Observatory- London

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London- The British Museum

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Our first ‘attraction’ in London was The British Museum, which I have never been to before and was about 15mins from our hotel.  We didn’t have long before it closed so we whizzed around, mostly around the Egyptian exhibit, then Assyrian, before heading upstairs to Medieval Europe.

But this funny horse man on the left is a winged lion from the North-West Palace of Ashurnasirpal II, of Norther Assyria (modern Iraq), obvs.  They were designed to be viewed from the side or front on, so when you take a photo like this you can see they have 5 legs! Continue reading

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The Hoxton, Holborn- London

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Whilst in London town we stayed in a super hipstery hotel, The Hoxton in Holborn (not in Hoxton, slightly confusingly).  We paid about £338 for 2 nights which ain’t cheap, but everywhere in London has inflated prices.  I’m sure you can find cheaper places though, but the hotel looked good and the location was convenient. Continue reading

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London Packing

It seems like only 10mins ago I was packing for Riga, but here I am again jet setting. This time only to London but it will cost about as much and take about as long to get there…

We’ll be there from Thursday 1pm until 7pm Saturday, and we expect it to be chilly but dry.  I’m only taking a backpack (I do have a mini backpack just to use as a day bag), so it all has to fit in there.  Continue reading

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