Day one in London

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October 12th 2013
Published: October 19th 2013
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On our last visit to London 4 years ago we managed to see a large number of the places and sights that come recommended in travel books and by family and friends over the week that we had here.

However, there are things that we want to see and do that we missed out on last time and we are going to try and fit them all or at least as many as possible into the next 4 days, weather permitting. And there will be a few things and places that we will get to do again because we think they are worth another visit.

One of those places is Camden Town market and because it is Saturday the market should be at its best.

The weather looks like we can get out and about without the need for a raincoat but we will need jackets as the temperature looks like getting no higher than 12C.

Having full cooking facilities means we can enjoy either scrambled or poached eggs again and set us up right for the day.

The money we topped up the Oyster card with yesterday seemed to disappear quickly after just 2 train rides and there appears to be something wrong with the way the card is set up but we will need to be able to view the charges online to check. It may also be because we didn’t swipe the card properly or it didn’t record when we left the railway station.

Making the connections between the train and the underground from where we are staying was easy although getting down to the platform of the subway was another matter. At Elephant and Castle underground station you need to descend deeply underground and usually there are two lifts transporting people down to the platform. Today though only one lift was working and that of course was also handling people coming up from the underground as well. The other option was the spiral stairs, all 124 of them, down to the platform which we took, although if those lifts aren’t working on our return trip................................

We emerged from the underground at Camden Town to a footpath crowded with people all making the best of a dry morning to get down to the market and do some shopping. Most of the stalls sell clothing and at first look the prices for the same or similar articles between stalls were not any different. However as you get further away from the main road that runs through the marketplace we did come across prices that were more competitive and also a wider choice of goods. It did make us think that just a few people either own a large number of stalls to sell their goods or they are suppliers to the same stalls.

On observing or people watching we came to the conclusion that most of the people milling about were tourists like us just there to get the experience. Of course posing for the camera also gives them away too.

As it was near lunchtime we decided to have something to eat here as well but it took us a while to find something that we liked the look of. The food stalls were selling mostly deeply fried food which looked a bit dubious. Eventually as we drifted a bit further away from the stalls we found a Burger King store and sat down to a chicken wrap and a coke which we thought was far more appetising.

One of our things to do is to visit as many mainline railway stations as we can while we are here. We ticked St Pancreas and Kings Cross already when we arrived in the UK and today if we plan a walk away from Camden OK we should come across Euston Station which was built in 1837 and then rebuilt in the design you see today in 1962.The station was designated in 2010 as the London terminus for the controversial Hi Speed 2 line from London to Birmingham which will further platforms and lines into and out of the station.

The station was busy with people doing the ‘meercat thing’ where they stand upright, heads looking up towards the board showing the arrival and departure times of the stations which is constantly changing making concentration on the train you are wanting to catch or meet essential. It can be quite assuming watching people who are watching the arrivals/departures board.

Moving on we found our way to Tottenham Court Road and as the weather was still dry we decided just to keep on walking and taking in what we passed by.

There aren’t a lot of public seats available on London streets but we found a small square where we stopped to take a rest and do some people watching at a bus stop. Quarter of an hour stop just reinforced how diverse the population of this city is with as many non white people as there are white. And to go with this is the huge number of accents you hear too and no longer can you say that English is necessarily the predominant language out in the streets.

After resting up we continued our walk along Oxford Street stopping in at the Photographers Gallery on the way to take in the current free exhibition based around motherhood which was a bit descriptive.

Turning into Regent Street we carried on to Piccadilly Circus and then to Trafalgar Square joining the throngs of people still out taking in the dry spell of weather.

With several kilometres of walking behind us we took the subway from Charing Cross to Elephant and Castle and this time the lifts were working saving us the ascent to the surface by the 124 stairs!

Within half an hour we were back at our apartment and getting ourselves ready for dinner after a busy day out and about.

With the prospects of rain tomorrow we shall probably plan for some indoor activities and have three museums and art galleries in our ‘to do’ book which we can put into a plan if the rain does come.

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