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Published: June 13th 2012
After 6 months in Dubai, this was our first break back in to the west. The heat was rising in Dubai and it seemed a good time to schedule in a family visit to the UK.
We were extremely happy to have an upgrade to business class..what a luxury it is, with lounge & massages thrown in at Abu Dhabi & Heathrow... To ease us into the shock of the cold we retreated to The Waldorf for some comfort for the first 2 nights. I realize I had been going on about the heat of a Dubai summer.. but this week of freezing cold, wet & windy weather , a UK summer!!.. made me really appreciate the warmth!
The novelty of donning winter clothes soon wore off with me. Armed in layers of clothes, boots, coat, scarf, umbrella, we walked the wet cold streets of this London summer with temperatures of 9-14 degrees. The streets were particular crowded as it was the Queens Jubilee and a 4 day long weekend. With celebrations planned throughout the city, a lot of streets were barricaded off, bus routes changed and tube lines cramped.
It felt strange to be walking along these
streets surrounded by historic architecture, and street life in general.. a change from the tall glass towers and malls of Dubai. A Friday night of streets filled with people congregating outside pubs, riding bikes, hanging out in cafes. The first thing we noticed was that the city and its streets seemed to be shrunk somehow, like a shrink wrapped city, everything was squeezed in...breathe in ! Narrow streets, buildings climbing over each other, jutted up against each other. A city of bricks and tiled roofs, narrow streets, tall skinny terraces... rooms with towel warmers!( now we haven't seen that for a long time) It was a stark contrast to the feeling of overwhelming light and space, big skies and wide boulevards & main roads in Dubai.
Walking through Covent Garden, to the area inspired by Palladio s architecture, by The Grand Tour architects of the day...I could have been mistaken for walking in to the streets of Rome. We watched the stall holders setting up their market stalls, the market covered in flags for the Jubilee weekend, making it very lively and colorful. Cobbled streets surrounded by classic architecture, little cafes popping out everywhere, something we don't get in
On the Sunday, the Queen was coming down the Thames with a flotilla of 1000 boats for her Jubilee. The city was overflowing with people lining up and cramming in to every available space to catch a glimpse along the river. The weather was unfortunately particularly bad on this day, the coldest day of the week about 11 degrees and raining most of the day. To get a vantage point along the river meant heading there early in the morning and once found, guarding your vantage spot! We set off about 11am and wandered both sides of the river, tackling crowds until we found a patch in the crowd outside Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. Having met up with Paul's sister & husband , we took turns in guarding our spot and retreating in to The Globe for a cuppa until the parade came down the river at 4pm.
After a quick visit to The British Museum and V&A and Westminster Cathedral,the next few days were spent visiting family on the outskirts of London before heading down to Devon. ( I will have more photos of these in my next blog)
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