Monday, January 23, 2017

Family Vacation in the U.K., 6th October 2016, Day 7: Sightseeing in London and onward to Cambridge

Today, we made grandiose plans to visit at least three attractions - viz. the Museum of Natural History, the Victoria and Albert Museum and perhaps one more --- before moving on the later part of the afternoon to drive to Cambridge, our next destination.

In the event, we only managed to see the Museum of Natural History. It was vast beyond comprehension. The museum is laid out over 5 storeys, and the inanimate world occupies three of those. For example. there were many exhibits of early civilisation, stories from the physical world, the world of scientific phenomena of nature, the stories of the mineral deposits within the earth's crust, and the story of evolution. In particular, the physical phenomena floor was really interesting. There were sections on earthquakes and volcanoes, waves and energy from the sea, wind energy, nuclear physics and what not. 

The displays on the minerals included hundreds of exhibits of semi-precious and precious stones and base minerals of the planet both. 

Moving on, the clear favourite was the huge exhibits in the natural history section. We literally waded through gallery after gallery of animal species. The one on dolphins and sharks took about 15 minutes to just pass through. The same was the case with the huge gallery on mammals. Finally, the piece de resistance - the vast gallery on dinosaurs, with moving models, skeletons, dinoramas, and so on. 

Take a look at some of the photos from this amazing visit: Click HERE.

Central hall with skeleton of Diplodoccus

A Rare Blaschko model of a sea creature

Another view of the central hall

An exhibit of hummingbirds in a tree

How water erosion smoothens a stone

Precious amethyst stones

Semi-precious coral jewellery

Model of a dolphin

Outside the Museum of Natural History

Stuffed bald eagle

Tectonic lines along the planet as we know today
By the time we finished our entire visit, we had run out of time to visit any other gallery. Hence, we simply went to the car rental agency and drove out of London to Cambridge, our next stop. 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Family Vacation in the U.K., 5th October 2016, Day 6: Sightseeing in London

As stated in my previous post, we had a London Pass that we had purchased from the Visit Britain counter at the UK Visa office in Mumbai. This pass is meant for free visits to more than 150 places of tourist interest in London. Each day's pass can make your pocket lighter by upto INR 4000/= Now there is an upper limit on how much one can see, and this is about INR 10000/= worth per day in entry tickets, etc. However, before one can reach that upper limit, the day usually gets over! On this, our second day, we had planned to cover 4 attractions. In the end, we managed only 2 1/2! 

The first of these was a visit to the iconic Tower of London. To reach this, we took a tourist bus that took us free (as its cost was included with our London Pass). It was a rather long journey, but the continuous commentary in one's ears through an automated ear-phones inside the back of the seat in front of you - makes the trip interesting. We passed through the outskirts of London into the center of power - viz. Westminster, which has its own municipality. En route, we saw, again, some of the famous landmarks of London, as also, some not-so-famous places, such as the "Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese" pub that dates back more than 300 years, and where writers and playwrights of the time came to sip a cup of tea or have something stronger while they tried to tickle their muse. If I am not mistaken, this included stalwarts like Lord Byron.

Eventually, we arrived at the Tower of London. The square structure that contains, on one corner of it, the actual tower, is only a part of a complex that houses troops even today. In addition, the tower also has the Royal Armoury and the Crown Jewels - which makes this place unique.  

The armoury was simply too interesting, but far more than it was the Crown Jewels exhibition that did not allow photography. We saw the Royal Jewels down the ages, as also various decorations worn by the previous monarchs on their epaulettes, chests and so on. Of course, we saw the Queen's crown with the Kohinoor diamond. It was a genuine pleasure to see these original jewels, golden kitchenwear and cutlery, and some were absolutely remarkable.  

From the TofL, we walked some distance to the London Tower Bridge. This is the structure we see on London postcards! There was an exhibition on Tier 2 of the tower bridge titled "Bridges of the World". But the most remarkable thing was on the highest level - the Tier 3, which has a glass-floor corridor that you walk through from one end to the other and from the other end via the second, parallel bridge to the end you began the walk on. From there, you descend to the first Tier - or the main road, and then out ...

What follows are a few of the best photos from today's visit to the TofL and the Tower Bridge.

The Tower of London

Our guide

One of the more decorative cannons on display

A full armour worn by a previous king, James II

A golden revolver - usually a gift

And, a golden machine gun

Some of the cannons and cannon balls on display

A live performance

Taking a breather before walking down the London Tower Bridge

At the Bridge, Tier 1

The Bridges of the World exhibition, Tier 2

Reclining on the glass floor

And then, everyone looks up for a group snap against mirrors on the ceiling
 The half that I referred to in the beginning was a visit to Oxford Street, where the family shopped till we dropped at the H & M stores. Indeed, this half was the one they most enjoyed. ;-)

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Family Vacation in the U.K., 4th October 2016, Day 5: Sightseeing in London

We had purchased a 2-day London Pass from India, which would enable us to visit many locations within London free of cost. However, in the end, over the next few days, we only managed to see 5-6 attractions, as each one took quite a bit of time. London is indeed one of the best cities from the point of view of tourism. We managed to see the following places today: Piccadilly Square, Trafalgar square and the Nelson Monument, The Elizabeth Tower housing the Big Ben, the Westminster Abbey, London Eye, and St. Paul's cathedral. We also managed to do the London River Cruise and London by Night. All in all, a great day was had by us all. 

There is little to say, so I will simply add some photos of the places we visited.

Piccadilly Circus

Trafalgar Square with the Nelson column

Fun at the Trafalgar Square - I

Fun - II

Fun - III

Portrait - I

Portrait - II

Outside Buckingham Palace 

Elizabeth Tower, more commonly known as the Big Ben

Westminster House

Outside Westminster Abbey

A plaque inside the Abbey

Sir Winston Churchill

London Millennium Eye

Inside the Eye

View from the Eye of the River Thames

St Paul's cathedral

The Shard - London's tallest building

Tower Bridge

London Tower

Harrod's by night

Enchanting London eye at night

The Shard by night