Hi all! I’m recently back from a 20-day England (yes, not even Wales or Scotland) trip.
For this 20-day trip, I was in London 3 times, each for about 2 days or less only. Other than central London, I stayed 2 nights at Wimbledon with an internet friend and went to Richmond twice as my friend, Valerie, works there. Thus, I used their transport system very extensively, from suburban rail to tube to bus (except cab), and went to all the Britrail stations in London.
I do not particularly like London though. Cannot really pinpoint exactly what I do not like or am unimpressed about it, I think it is a bit of everything. I do not like their tube, it is filthy, slow, noisy, expensive etc. I hope I do not sound like a spoilt Singaporean but I do not recall being so put off by the metro of Paris though it’s also far from our own subway standard. Perhaps because of its age (over 100 years old?), but I think a developed country deserves better.
I like the National Gallery, especially the audio commentary and it is free! The commentary makes it easier to enjoy the gallery. I was impressed that it covers all paintings, even the small ones. I think that it has the best commentary among Louvre, Uffizi and Musee d’Orsay.
Few people are not impressed with the mummies collection at the British Museum. It can be a fine line between collecting and looting, in a way, that was intellectual piracy. The consolation is perhaps that those treasures are in good hands and the entrance is free.
I attended a Shakespeare play, Anthony and Cleopatra, at the Globe Theatre. It was performed as it was originally intended, with no amplification, open-air, an all-male cast, Elizabethan stage set and costumes, live music etc. It was quite amusing to watch the actors playing female roles. I bought the yard standing ticket, which was cheapest (Ã¯Â¿Â½5) and actually had the best view, but it was no joke to stand for over three hours!
Went to 2 musicals, “Miss Saigon” and “Whistle Down the Wind”. “Miss Saigon” was a deliberate attempt because it is unlikely to come to Singapore with the provocative ‘costumes’ and dance. I enjoyed both very much.
I went to Hampton Court too and did the maze, reached the centre in 12 minutes and out in 10, supposed to be fairly good time. But I did not go inside the palace, little interest after Windsor and Warwick. Later, we walked from Hampton Court to Kingston along River Thames, passing some nice, enviable riverfront houses, the residents can really take their own boats to Kingston for work.
Other than those tourist activities, I accompanied Valerie to an apartment near Canary Wharf at Docklands for a housewarming, the windows look out to the Millennium Dome. Took a walk along the Thames from Waterloo to Tower Bridge as that it was too early in the morning to qualify for travelcard. I know it is not fair to compare, but I think the Seine is more interesting.
Coming back to London, it’s VERY VERY expensive! Making it harder to like London. I didn’t shop or buy any souvenirs in Britain, unless you count two postcards and one popup map for myself as souvenirs. Perhaps it was end of the sale season, but I was hardly motivated to step into the shops or window-shop. Still, it seems more conducive to shop in tourist towns such as Windsor or Bath than in London. For one, the shopping streets are pedestrian, thus less traffic pollution and the shops are more concentrated.
The rest of England is slightly better, except those admission charges, which average Ã¯Â¿Â½10 each. The ironic thing about England is that some of the best are free, such as the National Gallery, the British Museum, the walking tour in York by the volunteers, the cathedrals and the beautiful countryside.