Winter in London: Day One

I awoke this morning, on the third day of 2014’s alleged spring, to six inches of unwelcome snow on the ground. That’s in addition to the pre-existing three feet which we have had since mid-January! I’ll try not to grumble too much, but such tiresome weather makes me long for London again. And it reminds me of my delightful winter trip of late 2013, which I will describe in part today.

I travelled with my mother and my aunt to London for five days in November and December; a trip that was eagerly anticipated and much enjoyed, despite me catching a nasty cold while we were there. Immediately after arriving in the capital on a Thursday morning, we left our luggage at the hotel and then made our way to Westminster Pier for a boat tour along the Thames. I would definitely recommend taking such a boat tour if you are in London, as it is a fabulous and unique way to see all the most famous sights, without the sometimes overwhelming bother of taking public transport.

'Big Ben' from the Thames

The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben

St. Paul's Cathedral from the Thames

The distinctive dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral

The Globe Theatre

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre from the Thames

Tower Bridge

About to pass beneath Tower Bridge on the Thames

The Docklands

The Docklands; ‘Canary Wharf’, or One Canada Square, in centre

The day was a cold one, made even colder by the winds flying across the Thames, but it was a fun experience. The boat took us all the way from Westminster to Greenwich, where we walked around the Royal Naval College. Many people should recognize the College’s buildings even if they have not personally seen them, since the College has been portrayed in many film productions such as Hornblower, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Thor: The Dark World.

Greenwich in November

Royal Naval Academy at Greenwich

The Painted Hall

The magnificent Painted Hall at Greenwich

The Queen's House

The Queen’s House; not inhabited by Her Majesty today, but a former royal residence

After walking about for awhile and enjoying a delicious hot lunch, we walked through Greenwich Village and came across a charming antiques market. It was absolutely bustling, and its vendors were selling many fascinating things, from vintage jewellery to china and military antiques. I, naturally, gravitated to the military tables- how excited I was to see artifacts such as WWII flare guns, old Wehrmacht helmets, and even real firearms like a Russian Mosin rifle and a British Lee-Enfield! I savoured my first ever cappuccino while perusing that market, and despite the chilly November air I felt very at home and happy.

Market in Greenwich

Alley to the charming market in Greenwich, all decked out in the spirit of Christmas

Having completed our tour of Greenwich and the Thames, we returned to our hotel for a rejuvenating nap- much needed after the long, sleepless, overnight flight of the night before! Since we were so tired, we then decided to take a simple bus ride down Oxford Street and towards Piccadilly Circus. That allowed us to take in the sights without expending too much energy. The Christmas lights and holiday bustle of Oxford Street were so beautiful, and made me very excited about shopping over the next few days!

Oxford Street

The mesmerizing lights of Oxford Street

House of Fraser Decorations

Decorations on the House of Fraser building

Trafalgar Square

Hanukkah celebrations in Trafalgar Square

Day one was chilly and tiring, but fantastic- as most days in London are. Christmas in London is a very inspiring and magical time, and my time at the Greenwich market and around Oxford Street let me experience some of that magic. If you are ever looking for somewhere interesting to go around Christmastime, don’t overlook the option of London!

Although it can be expensive, London has some of the best shopping in the world, and the whole atmosphere is one of excitement. The capital is invariably filled with crowds (sometimes tourists and sometimes just residents on their way to either work or the shops), but that busy atmosphere makes it feel like there’s always something going on. To borrow a well-known quote from Samuel Johnson, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” There is always something happening in London and every time I visit, there is something new that surprises me. For a vacation around Christmas or any other time of the year, my biased choice will always be London.

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