The stories of my life on a little island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea ... and my occasional adventures beyond these shores.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Time Out in Trafalgar Square

As I wrote in my last post, London was hectic, and I am thankful for that because we got to see a lot. But there comes a time in every vacation when you just need to stop, step back and look, take a real good look, at what is around you; touch base with yourself, if you will, and with the city you are in. It was a Monday afternoon and after watching the Changing of the Guard and walking along The Mall to Trafalgar Square, my husband proposed a visit to the National Gallery. London 600
Although we would normally have joined him, the Mischief Maker and I had other ideas. While my art-loving husband hurried through the vast spaces of the National Gallery and admired paintings created by some of the greatest masters, the Mischief Maker and I hoisted ourselves up on the pedestal of Nelson’s column and ate our freshly-prepared sandwiches from Pret-a-Manger: egg salad and water-cress for him and smoked salmon and cream cheese for me. London 601
It was time for us to relax and watch the micro-world of Trafalgar Square go by. And what better place to do it than perched on the pedestal of one of England’s greatest heroes? Some 50 metres above us, the admiral continued to survey the pulsating rhythm of London and we too were able to ‘kick off our shoes’ and take it all in. London 602
There’s a little bit of everything here: kings, generals and admirals, frozen in time; unexpected works of art; amazing architecture; fountains; and people of all ages, colours and nationalities. London 603
Around the square, taxis and buses, cars and bicycles, whizzed by incessantly. Trafalgar Square is at the heart of this city. It is a place where Londoners gather to celebrate and to protest. They come here in droves to ring in the New Year and whenever an English team wins an important sporting event. And they come here to vociferously make their concerns heard.London 604
But, up there on the plinth, we had our moment of peace and a perfect spot for people watching. I could have spent more time on my perch, enjoying the sound of the water splashing into the fountain basins, the constantly changing scene and the babble of different languages. London_Phone 106
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I was in my own reverie, dreaming of London, or my version of London, but suddenly, the strains of Hallelujah brought me back to earth. I landed into reality with a very gentle bump and threw some coins into the busker’s guitar case. I was thankful that he had unknowingly turned my moment of peace into one of those moments that will forever remain etched in my memory.
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Trafalgar Square – make of it what you will but I made it into my moment of peace and reflection. I’ve always had a hard time deciding which spot in London is my favourite but I think that, on this visit, I can safely say that this was mine.

Trafalgar Square, Westminster, London WC2N 5DN, United Kingdom

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Wednesday, 13 August 2014

London Love

I was eight the first time I visited London. It was my first experience of a big city and, I admit, I was scared. The Underground, the endless screeching of police and ambulance sirens, the punk rockers with their crazy hairstyles (it was the late 70s, after all), the hectic pace, the crowds – it was a bit too much. London 184
But there is something about  London that I have loved for as far back as I can remember and that is its history and its memorable, albeit sometimes roguish, characters. The story of London is the story of England. From its Roman  beginnings to the present day, this city  has withstood plague, fire, civil war and the Blitz and each time it has come back more defiant than ever. London 355
There is much to discover in London – so much that it leaves me breathless – because a week is not enough to explore all the places that I want to see, but a week is all I have. So there I am, with all the other tourists, “seeing the sights” and despising myself just a little bit, because I know there is more to London than that. London 361
But, at the same time, I am drawn to the sights, I have to see them all again, because the last time I was there was in 1997 and that was too long ago. So I revisited them, pointing them out eagerly to my Mischief Maker, hoping to plant in him a seed of love for this great city. But in spite of the lack of time, I was lucky enough to have enough of it to discover new places, new things.
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So between spending time at the British  Museum and Trafalgar Square; the Tower of London and Buckingham Palace, we discovered Covent Garden and Notting Hill. We saw London from the Thames, we saw it from The Eye and we saw it from the top of double-decker buses. London 534
Despite the fact that I am not much of a city girl, this is one metropolis that never ceases to pique my curiosity. I have spent the last few weeks since returning home  trying desperately to understand its vibe. Because it has one,as all cities do, but it is not easy to define. London is traditional but occasionally outrageous; regal but ever so insouciant; irreverent, unabashed, diverse…London 390
Even its architecture is so varied that I am at a loss as to how to describe it best. Victorian with occasional medieval gems? Modern but interspersed with neo-classical beauties? It is constantly changing yet some things have remained the same. London 636
You can read about London in a hundred guide-books yet it is still able to shroud itself in mystery. Perhaps that is what makes it so attractive. Perhaps that is why it keeps luring me back.London 399
You may read about London’s history here or here.London 477
And if you’re in London and are at a loss what to do, here are some suggestions from the Telegraph: 100 of the best things to do in London.
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Until next time, ma belle …
Locations from top to bottom: the White Tower (Tower of London); Big Ben; Westminster Abbey; supporting columns of the old Blackfriar’s Bridge; the Houses of Parliament (Westminster Palace); the London Eye; Covent Garden market; the Shard and the Millennium Bridge; the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral; the London Aquarium; the Royal Albert Hall.


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