London highlights

Earlier this year Mr.A and I moved to London, believing we were making a long term shift, but as it turns out it wasn’t meant to be, at least not for the time being. Long story short, we’ve happily returned home to Stockholm after living in London for four months. It’s been a helluva ride, but in all the chaos we’ve had some good days in this bustling, spirited city. Let me share some high points from our short-lived adventure 🙂

Sky Garden atop the Walkie-Talkie

One of the best vantage points for great views of the city of London is the Sky Garden. The top three stories viz. 34th-37th floors of the skyscaper at 20 Fenchurch Street, nicknamed Walkie-Talkie for its typical shape, have been transformed into landscaped gardens open to the public for free. You do have to book an entry slot but that’s quite easy with their online booking system. You can even make a special occasion by reserving a table at one of the restaurants, or keep it casual by snacking at the cafes. Obviously, the highlight is the 360° views of the city, combined with the greenery indoors. Mr.A and I enjoyed the perspective. The garden complete with full-grown palms is quite a delight to stroll in, too.

Greenwich and the National Maritime Museum

Once Saturday we rode the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) that winds through the towering skyscrapers of Canary Wharf before coming out the other side of Thames to the Greenwich station. A short, but rather steep, walk uphill through the Greenwich Park brought us to the Royal Observatory. To tick off places from my Geography lessons has always given me a certain thrill, so this was no different. Taking a picture with our feet in two hemispheres, straddling the Prime Meridian was cool, of course. The real treat on the hot day was the cool breeze on the hill accompanied by splendid views of the skyline. We also went into the National Maritime Museum, which has free entry to its permanent exhibitions, to examine ship models and read up on Britain’s naval history. Since a lot of it was associated with the East India Company and it’s influence in our own history, the days ended up with much reflection and thought. Happy Weekend, I say!

St. Paul’s Cathedral

A trip to the city of London would be incomplete without a visit to St. Paul’s Cathedral, architect Christopher Wren’s masterpiece. A magnificent structure, both from the outside and inside. The ticket price includes either an audio guide or a guided tour. We opted for the latter and were so happy following our learned guide, a charming octogenarian who made such a pleasant impression that Mr.A & I decided we would do something like he was doing when we grew old ourselves! Totally worth the slightly pricey ticket. Note however, you can save a little if you prebook online. We loved our culture trip around this 300+ year old building which has seen eons pass by and has so many stories to tell.

A walk around Hyde Park

This giant park despite being in the heart of the city, surely takes one away from its madness into an oasis of calm. Even though there were hundreds of other people, it did feel like a different world within. People seemed so much at ease walking their dogs, enjoying their ice creams, feeding ducks and even parrots (it’s true!), strolling by the Serpentine, playing a casual game of football, and what not. Mr.A and I went to the Park just before sundown and had a lovely time watching all this pass by us in a beautiful golden glow.

Brick Lane & Shoreditch

Brick Lane surely teleported us into another world. Once a settlement for immigrants from Bangladesh trying to make a new home in a new country, today it is a hep center buzzing with student activity, fashion and art. There is a considerable number of restaurants all boasting the best food from the Indian sub-continent, but make sure to research where you want to eat since our experience with the food was not one of our high points here. Graffiti-watching along Shoreditch and Brick Lanes was totally rewarding though. Some amazing street art can be found in small nooks as well as huge walls. Once can surely spend a lot of time being fascinated, especially one like me that has a thing for street art 😉 The pictures warrant their own blog post, so I’ll write more about them soon.

Barbican Conservatory

The Barbican Conservatory was a surprise find that I chanced upon in some toplist about London, and decided to drag Mr.A to check it out. It did not disappoint at all. The Barbican Complex with its brutalist architecture captured our imagination, how stark and severe it looked, somewhat reminding us of the buildings in central Delhi, perhaps one influencing the other, who knows. In the middle of the austere lines, sits the cosy world of green in the form of the conservatory, housing London’s second largest conservatory. Amongst 2000+ varieties of plants, also live some turtles and fish in sparkling ponds. There is an impressive array of chillis and a gorgeous desert garden housing cactii of all shapes and sharpness. Entry is free on Sunday afternoons, a refreshing activity before the start of a new week.

What are your favorite spots in London?

Travel checklist : 2017

It’s no secret, we at Sunny District LOVE to travel. Couldn’t have stressed that any more, could I?! We have an endless list of must-go places and we are going about checking them off one at a time. Early each year, we scout the calendar for long weekends and bank holidays attempting to max out on all available opportunities. We match the available dates with the places on our wishlist and look for the best match of dates against cheap flights. It’s worked out pretty well for us to plan & book ahead this way. For the last couple of years, I have been publishing a travel round up of all the places Mr.A and I visited during the year. Do you remember these? Go ahead, take a look 🙂

Travel checklist : 2015

Travel checklist : 2016

Thrice in a row means a tradition, doesn’t it? So here comes the 3rd installment in Sunny District’s traditional travel round-up series! It’s a ten on ten 💯 😀

  1. Vienna and Salzburg, Austria
  2. Venice, Italy
  3. St.Petersburg, Russia
  4. Paris, France
  5. Gdansk and Sopot, Poland
  6. Aiya Napa and Paphos, Cyprus
  7. Ljubljana, Bled and Slovenia’s coastal towns
  8. London, England
  9. Dubai and Abu Dhabi, UAE
  10. Kyiv/ Kiev, Ukraine

I’d love to hear about the amazing places you discovered this year! Have you been to any of the ones we visited? What did you think of them? Was there something that pleasantly surprised you or was there anything that did not live up to your expectations? I’m so curious to know! Let’s get talking in the comments 🙂

Hugs,
Bipasha 🤗

Sunny District meets Andy & Litle :)

One of the things I enjoy most about blogging is that the world begins to feels a smaller, more connected place, a bit warmer & cosier. I read about others’ experiences and get inspired by new ideas. I get to e-meet fun people and sometimes, when I strike gold, I get to meet them in real life.

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Enter, Palesa & Andrew from South Africa! Here’s a couple of bold, adventurous & fun people who have taken off on a year-long trip around the world, whoa! I think it takes a lot of courage “taking everyday as it comes” as they say on their blog. Follow their journey across Asia, Europe and now U.S.A at https://our380.wordpress.com That’s where I found them & left a comment asking to meet when they were in Stockholm. And guess what, they did stop by. And remembered to reach out. How nice of you 🙂 They had only a couple of days in the city but going by this post on their blog, it sounds like it went pretty good 😉 I am so happy we got the chance to spend a lovely evening sharing stories over drinks. I was warmed by their spirit and wish them loads of great experiences along the way. Good luck, you two, wish you many adventures!

 

Cyprus, Paphos

Cyprus trip : Day 3 & 4

Mr.A and I spent most of the 3rd day of our Cyprus trip in Ayia Napa, but set off for Paphos late afternoon. It’s a 2-hour drive to the city on the western part of the island. The highway boasts of good road conditions, sometime winding close enough to the sea to offer stunning views of the shiny sea, and at others, winding inland between sand coloured hills dotted with short bushes. It was a hot day, so we kept the air conditioning going and carried an ample stash of chilled iced tea to sustain us along the way. The radio blasted away and we sang along when a familiar melody came up.

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We reached the Capital Coast Resort and Spa just short of sunset. I was quite impressed by the property with its multiple pools, luxurious spa, spacious apartments, great sea view and pleasant restaurants. Since sunset was around 8 o’clock, we had enough time to splash around in the outdoor pool before that. We got changed and were back in the lawn to watch the golden sunset. It was in a long, long time that we had taken out time to sit and watch both sunrise and sunset together in the span of a single day… that was special & romantic 🙂

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We decided to visit some historical sites the following day. The forecast warned of a sweltering day. Covered in multiple layers of sunblock, armed with scarves, caps, sunglasses, umbrellas, bottles of water and so on, we set off! The Tombs of the Kings are a network of underground crypts from the 4th century BC, supposedly belonging to rich members of society but not kings per se. The sites are spread over a considerable area and have graves of varying sizes. Some of the complexes exhibit enclosed courtyards with Roman columns which are in impressively good shape, given the amount of time they have weathered the elements! We walked through many a mirage shimmering over the heated earth. But history always intrigues the two of us, and in spite of the heat waves, were happy to have been there.

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Few kilometers away is the Kato Paphos Archeological Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1980. This area has been a settlement during several eras over history, but the most dominant and well-preserved remains – one can visit houses decorated with elegant mosaic floors depicting mythical stories – date back to the Roman era. These sites are excellent examples of craftsmanship and symmetry.

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We returned to the hotel and practically walked right into the pool to cool off. Thoroughly revived, we checked out & headed back to Larnaca to catch a red-eye flight. At Larnaca, we visited the Salt Lake and left our footprints on the slightly mushy surface. We also headed to the Hala Sultan Tekke, a mosque that has stood on the edge of the lake since the Ottoman Empire. Although we reached beyond admission hours, I’m glad we went – to our great surprise, we were met by a clutter of cats so large we had never seen before :-O They were everywhere, more and more of them kept crawling out from the shadows. We declared Cyprus as Cat-country right there and fled before they could enslave us!

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Dinner was at a traditional restaurant where we ate a truck-load of fish, no kidding. Lucky for us, some local artists performing song and dance at the restaurant. With still some hours to kill before the flight, Mr.A and I strolled by the water and found beach beds by a hotel. Nobody stopped us, so we lay down for an hour enjoying the cool sea breeze, listening to the slosh-slosh of the waves, counting stars… couldn’t have asked for a better ending to this lovely Cyprus trip 🙂

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