Tuesday, 6 September 2016

London 2014 - What I didn't see at the Games

When I visited London back in 2012 to attend the Olympic Games, I did not stay for long. It was therefore inevitable that I would miss a couple of things that I intended to visit. So, when I was back in the city two years later on my way to Stratford-Upon-Avon in order to see Bryan Adams in Birmingham, I took advantage of my free time in order to see what I've missed.
Back in 2012, on the last day of my stay, before catching my plane back to Athens, I happened to pass by Greenwich. I noticed that there was a new cable car there, the Emirates Air-Line near the O2 Arena. Unfortunately, I did not have time to wait in the queue, ride it, then get back on the tube to go all the way to Heathrow. So, I promised myself that the next time I was in London, this was the first thing I would visit.
So, after arriving late at night and having spent the night in Christmas decorated Gatwick airport because it was too late to search for a place to stay, I got me a train ticket and combined travelcard and made my way to the city. 

My first stop was, of course, North Greenwich, to ride the cable car. I got my ticket (it's actually called a "boarding pass") at the Greenwich Penisula station for about 3.30GBP and rode it across the Thames experiencing a view of London from high above, to the Royal Docks "station".

From there, I walked to the Royal Victoria DLR station to catch a train to my next destination: Stratford and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. (DLR stands for Docklands Light Railway, which is an overground train, without a driver).

During the Games, I had noticed a strange structure there, the ArcelorMittal Orbit. You needed a ticket to visit it which was quite expensive, plus there was a long queue to get in. So I did not go and I made another promise to myself that I would visit it the next time I was in London. The ticket was still expensive, but a promise is a promise, right?

I went all the way to the top using the lift and, for the second time that day, I saw London from above. 

I went back down on foot, admiring the view. And since I had time to kill, I stopped for a quick snack and visited the Aquatics Centre, the venue where I had attended the Synchronized Swimming event two years before.

Then it was back to Stratford station, stopping at the big shopping centre for window shopping, long enough to realize that my favourite GEOX jeans and shoes were much more expensive here than in Italy.

After a brief stop at FOPP in Charing Cross (probably the last big record store standing in London) in order to buy the Bryan Adams Reckless box set, I made my way to St.Pancras station, to catch the train to Stratford-Upon-Avon. 

While waiting for the train, I was treated to a free sample of Coca Cola Life. This is supposed to be something like the Green Cola we have here in Greece but it's much tastier (always IMHO).

Two days later, I was back. Having seen Bryan Adams and having explored Stratford-Upon-Avon (which will be the subject of a future post), I returned to London in order to catch my flight back to Athens. But first, I would spend the night there. This time, I got a one day Travelcard which cost only 8.90GBP (a snip, as Smash Hits would say). Why am I pointing that out? Well, it's because that very same travelcard this summer, while I was passing through London on my way to Manchester to see The Stone Roses cost 12 pounds. It went up by 3 pounds in less than 2 years. Well, London is becoming too expensive I think...

My first stop was once again FOPP for some further purchases and then it was on to The Pride Of Paddington, my favourite London pub, where back in July 2012 we were entertained by my friend Tony and his band at what was one of the best pre-concert Bruce parties I have ever attended

Well, this pub, happens to have a hostel on the floor above so I decided to try that one. Not bad. 

Plus, I enjoyed constantly being in close proximity to my favourite drinking establishment in the city. 

After I settled in, I went downstairs for a quick pint and crisps and then back upstairs for a good night's sleep. As a hostel guest I was entitled to several discount vouchers for the pub which I used the next morning to enjoy a good breakfast.

But by then the time had come to go back home. So after a brief walk around the Paddington area where I had the chance to spot the Royal Norfolk Hotel, where I stayed the first time I visited London back in 1987, I took the train to the airport...

..And on my way there, I saw that they were rebuilding the chimneys of the Battersea Power Plant! Isn't that supposed to be a sacrilege? No flying pigs in sight though...

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