... strike up conversations...
... strike up conversations with the people! The English are absolutely wonderful, particularly to visiting Americans! I made a number of wonderful friends while I was wandering around Piccadilly and getting lost! Every time I got lost, I stopped someone who seemed friendly. Without exception, everyone gave me careful directions, talked to me, made jokes, and often took some time to have nice conversations. They are surprisingly well informed about American customs and holidays; on our American Thanksgiving Day, every Brit I met took the trouble to wish me a happy Thanksgiving. I particularly suggest hanging out in pubs, where you can always find good conversation, at least early in the evening. You can also meet lots of nice people at coffee bars and Internet cafes. I met someone quite by accident while dining alone at a tearoom in Piccadilly. He was alone too -- and we ended up talking for seven hours!
The famous market place of London, full of small little cute shops with fun stuff on it.
Small tea and coffee shops and restaurants as well. Not far away from there you will find DOC. MARTEENS shoe shop. A must if you want boots.
Some say it took 50 years; others will joke and claim it took 140 years: the construction of the Hungerford Bridge. Maybe a little chronology of events of its history might explain the difference in opinions!
The new Hungerford Bridge, designed by Alex Lifschutz, was part of the Millennium Project but it originate its inspiration and foundations in the original 19th century pedestrian suspension toll bridge, designed by Brunel, built in 1845.
At the time of the Brunel Bridge, it was amongst the longest in the world, incorporating landing piers for boats even.
People were quite impressed by it structure and many paintings and later on photographs have been made of it.
However… the beautiful design could not persuade the people from bearing the terrible stench coming from the heavily polluted Thames. Especially during Summers it seemed to be so bad people totally avoided it.
In 1860 the railway introduced itself and Charing Cross was operating. Brunel’s nice design got replaced by an ugly railroad bridge designed by John Hawkshaw, using the redbrick stone piers of the original bridge that you can still see today (see picture).
The river Thames got narrowed when building the Victoria Embankment.
The river became less stinky.
The idea of a footbridge remained. There was actually one near the rail track but it was narrow and no one dares to go there at night, it was a place to avoid!
Two pedestrian bridges will disguise the ugly railroad bridge: first to be opened was the Upstream bridge, facing London Eye and the Palace of Westminster, second is the downstream bridge at the other side.
The lightning at the bridge (designed 1997-1999) has to goals.
First aim was to provide a safety feeling when it gets dark and second it has to accentuate the design of the bridge, creating a new landmark during the night scenery. I missed viewing this bridge during night time so another reason to come back to London. If it is already so nice at day, it must be fairy tale-like at night!
Open Air Ice-skating in December & January
Due to global warming, snow cannot be guaranteed in London nowadays.
Anyway, for safety, a controlled environment is best: the state-of-the-art Dutch outdoor skating system.
Boy, is it fun! The backdrop of the old buildings provides a charming setting. And the compact white snow, with the folks skating around you in their colourful gear is such a treat for your eyes.
For 1 hour skate including skate hire: Adults, daytime £10 10am-5.30pm sessions
Adults, evening £12.50; 6.45pm-9.15pm sessions
Adults, late skate £15; 10.30pm session
Children £7; 12 years and under (any session)
Family ticket £29; 1 adult + 3 children or 2 adults + 2 children
*** This seasonal skating is organised at several venues: Kew Gardens, Hampton Court Palace, Marble Arch, Natural History Museum, Somerset House (these pics), Canary Wharf, etc.
My husband found his backpack was perfect to carry our umbrellas, souveniers and hats. Raincoat and umbrella. Walking shoes are good because the cobblestone is very difficult to negotiate in heels, plus heels are not too cushy, so you do feel every single cobblestone you step on. We had two digital cameras, both with video capabilities, one that was so small it was wallet size, depending on where we were going, either the larger or smaller camera was appropriate. We brought a tripod stand for Stonehenge and it worked great. Despite the heavy wind, which knocked it and our camera over, the camera works fine (after bouncing a few times on the path) and has one nick on it. If you go during September, it is much cooler than the east coast of the U.S. We wore long sleeve shirts and jeans and warm jackets, as well as gloves sometimes. For women who carry purses, get one you can put around your neck, so the strap crosses entirely in front of you and keep your purse in front of you. I had several tugs on mine, but because of the way I wore it, no one ever got it. It was small and had enough space for credit cards, eye drops, money, id and lipstick. I left my big purse that holds everything but the sink back home and used this for my entire trip.