08/2011 - England, London 2nd part

After more than twenty-five years we went back to London. We decided to visit what we had not seen in the past and to do pleasant walks in the city center.
We chose to stay at the IBIS hotel because we appreciate its quality/price ratio.
In London we stayed at the IBIS close to the Euston subway station.

We had not planned the visit (and, in fact, we didn’t do it), but we entered the Victoria & Albert Museum because we needed a shelter from the rain. This is why I can represent the museum, even if only marginally.

Not far there is the Royal Albert Hall, a building that I want to represent showing “the Triumph of Arts and Sciences”. Opposite, we could admire the Albert Memorial that Queen Victoria commissioned in memory of her husband who prematurely died when he was only 41 years old, leaving nine orphans.

We began our fourth day from Westminster Pier. We were going to take a boat that would bring us to Greenwich. Before leaving I wanted to show the Big Ben and the equestrian statue erected in memory of Queen Boudicca , who imposingly stands with the big wheel behind.

I divided into three photo-galleries the fluvial journey towards Greenwich. In the first part I took pictures of monuments that I had already presented one by one but that I could admire from the perspective given by the navigation on the Thames river. We started from the aquarium, admired a series of modern buildings and passed the Belfast cruiser, famous for having participated in the Normandy landings.

We passed near other beautiful buildings until we reached the palace which hosts the fish market (Billings Gate) and the Tower Bridge with the Tower of London. Not far we could see the modern City Hall and, behind it, the still unfinished skyscraper The Shard, designed by Renzo Piano.

Proceeding, we initially met many inhabited units obtained by converting original docks ( harbour warehouses facing the Thames ), continued with the modern urban settlements located on the Isle of Dogs and ended with the futuristic Canary Wharf district.

Once in Greenwich we immediately went to visit the Royal Observatory built on the point where the prime meridian passes; it is the meridian that divides our planet between east and west . Some important maintenance works prevented us from visiting the Cutty Sark, the clipper which won the race between London and China in 1871. We visited the Queen’s House and the Old Naval Base. We left Greenwich along the pedestrian tunnel that crosses the Thames underwater.

After a long underground transfer, we arrived at Victoria Place which I represent showing some of its peculiarities, including the homonymous train station that connects London to Europe. Then we visited the Westminster Cathedral, the largest Catholic church in the UK, with a magnificent interior .

We went again to Buckingham Palace; I could only document its front square and the beautiful decorated fences. We also visited the palace but the use of the camera was forbidden.
We walked the short route which passes near St. James ‘ Palace, the Burlington Arcade and the Fortnum & Mason store (see below) and led us to Piccadilly where we could admire the beautiful Eros by Alfred Gilbert.

We could not help a visit to Fortnum & Mason where, in the past, we made numerous (and expensive) purchases . This time, though with difficulty, we did not buy anything. We concluded the day along new roads of the multi-ethnic district of China Town.

On Sunday morning we took the opportunity to visit Camden Market. It was born from the merger of six market, is open every day and you can buy everything . It is beautiful the part along the Regent’s Canal and the part inside Victorian-style buildings.

We went back to the city center to visit the covered market in Covent Garden. Inside a myriad of small shops selling a little of everything while in the square there were many street entertainers performing a various activities.
Quite close, two roads, James Street and Neil Street , offer a rich range of shops selling the most varied and curious things.

We could not miss a walk in Carnaby Street, the “cult” street of the young people in the 1960s. Nowadays it is no longer at its best . The warm sun and the festive day brought us back to St. James Park. There were many Londoners lying on the grass in the sun listening to good music.

After having seeing the Parliament from the Thames, we saw it from the opposite side where it stands the beautiful equestrian statue of Richard the First, work of the Italian sculptor Carlo Marochetti . I also present the Big Ben from a different side, showing , in particular, the tower with its four clocks. I show Westminster Abbey only from outside with particular attention to the frontal towers and other details.

Being August, we were so lucky to be present at the biggest carnival in Europe: the Caribbean carnival in Notting Hill. I would like to underline how the shopkeepers tried to protect themselves from the participants’ exuberance… I leave the pictures to tell this story.

I can show St. Paul’s Cathedral only from the outside since it is forbidden to take pictures from the inside. “The Monument” is the name given to the column erected to commemorate the Fire of London in 1666. Nearby there are two other monuments of the City : the Bank of England and the Royal Exchange. Leaden Market is the characteristic covered market where they sell almost all possible food; the market is very popular with Londoners especially over the Christmas period and with employees of the City at mealtimes .
Staple Inn is the name of a half-timbered house , the only one remained in central London which dates back to 1586. Nearby we met the beautiful chapel of St.Etheldreda, along with other typical buildings, the most beautiful is the red building of the Prudential Assurance.

Because of the holiday we could not visit its interior, but the Smithfield Market, the meat wholesale market, still shows intact its Victorian architectural beauty . The Church of St. Bartholomew the Great is the oldest religious building in London (1123) and has two entrances: the main one is under an arch of a half-timbered house, the secondary one is in a narrow street . The interior is very impressive and mystical , with arcs of Norman age.

Waterloo Station had recently been enlarged and renovated in order to receive trains arriving from the tunnel crossing the English Channel; this mean of transport is chosen by an increasing number of users. I also show the multi-level parking for bikes and the large number of available bicycles for the Bike Sharing service. We began to cross our last London area starting from Fitzroy Square, famous for having offered hospitality, in some of the houses that face it, many famous people (eg G.B. Shaw and Virginia Wolf) . A short distance away there is a nice museum, the Museum of Toys . Not far, there is the British Library which opened in 1997 after more than twenty years of work . You can enter St. Pancras railway station through a huge, eye-catching and elegant red-brick building; a building which, after various different utilizations, had recently returned to host a luxury hotel.

As my habit I conclude this long presentation of places visited during my week in London with a group of photos representing some of the “curiosities” caught during the visit .