My hubby and I celebrated our first anniversary by travelling to London. Well, that is not one of the most desired ways to spend an anniversary but we had no other option. We met our tour manager, from Cox and Kings at Dubai Airport. There were 35 people in our group. I was surprised by the cosmopolitan nature at the airport. Most of the women were clad in burqas and long skirts, but they looked fashionable. In Dubai, scarves, blouses and skirts with animal prints were in fashion.
We reached London in the evening and retired to our hotel. The next day we started at eight in the morning in our bus. We met our tour guide, John. He gave us the city tour. He was a young guy with a clean shaved head. John was witty and gave all the juicy information about London.
The Harrods department store once sold exotic animals as pets. Christian the Lion in the famous you tube clip lived in the store as a cub. At Buckingham palace, he told us how the Queen Victoria’s nose fell off from the statue last year and they had to fix it. He showed us a street near Hyde Park where a single parking spot costs 300000 pounds and the Pet Cemetery of Hyde park, where all the super-rich dogs of the royalty rest in peace.
Queen Victoria’s memorial in front of Buckingham Palace
Pet Cemetery at Hyde Park (Image from http://londoninsight.wordpress.com/2010/10/06/pet-cemetery-hyde-park)
We had a quick photo stop at Trafalgar square. At the center of the square is the Nelson’s column. John told us, ‘The pigeons are banned from this square to preserve the beauty of the square’.
One of the fellow tourists was quick enough to respond, ‘Do the pigeons listen to you?’
John replied, ‘You see the white vans in the center of the square? They have hawks in the van. They release them from time to time to keep the pigeons away’.
Londoners love Lord Nelson, the question is do we love our politician’s enough? Our Indian pigeons express both love and hatred towards our country’s politicians every day. They perch on the statues, and they shit. The pigeons’ nasty acts are camouflaged by coloring our politician’s statues in white. We do have our own ways for protecting our squares. I realized that pigeons are an issue of National Security not only in London but also in many cities of India.
The mermaid in the Jellycoe fountain and the lion in the background, Trafalgar square
I love the creative names of pubs in London; Fox & Hounds, Bunch of Grapes, Halfway to Heaven, The Shipwright Arms, and The Barrowboy & Banker. The pubs were the houses of rumination for great writers like Charles Dickens. These were few of the pubs we saw from the bus in our city tour. Ideal way to explore these pubs would be to go on pub crawling, feast on fish and chips and douse in beer. In this non-ideal world, we were not so lucky to explore the ideal way.
Beer window shopping in The Shipwright Arms and The Barrowboy and Banker
We also went for a ride on the London Eye, which is located on the south bank of River Thames. The giant Ferris wheel with futuristic white capsules rotates at a speed of 0.9 km/h and provides picturesque views of the city. The 30 minute ride was a bit boring for me. May be the silver surfer in the movie, Fantastic Four also went on a ride and could not bear it so tried to bring down the London Eye. Reality does breed fiction!
The day ended with shopping a fridge magnet in Regent Street.The next day we traveled to Paris on a Ferry.