16 Feb LONDON & neighborhoods – part 2 Off the beaten paths
You can’t say you properly visited London if you didn’t lost enough time under a big tree in one of the calm London parks. Green and well-finished, relaxing spots in the middle of the city where you can meet the colorful and discreet London humanity: bespetacled grannies, workers with paper bags eating their take-away lunches, groups of students studying stretched on blanchets. In some of them with 2 £ you can even hire one of the traditional sun beds for a nap if sun gives a break to foggy weather.
You can’t say you visited any place if you didn’t take time to wander and get lost a little bit. Just to smell the city and memorize the sound that the too-little wooden steps in one of the tiny full-of-crazy-stuff shops makes under your shoes (a proper English shop has to have one of those staircases where is difficult to put an entire foot as you wear a 47 instead of a 37 of shoes). You will miss that sound once at home anyway.
When I got out of the beaten-very-touristic-path that’s the places I enjoyed most:
(“to enjoy”:vrb, infinite, not just to put a check on something but wander, read a book, watch your feet on the grass, count the squirrels, rest to drink a LARGE Starbuck’s coffee etc etc…)
Kew Gardens: I think of this place as her Majesty secret enchanted garden. It has to be a sunny day to have a walk through the colorful fields and greenhouses and the pagoda and waterlily house or Queen Charlotte’s cottage. It deserves half a day to get there and have a proper look but take advantage of rare sunny weather days!
Modern art hits the streets in Kingston thanks to author David March. “Out of order” is a telephone boxes’ giant domino and a funny idea of reuse of these old traditional cabins plus a genious way to avoid classical London red cabin selfie: opt for a domino of eleven!
Primerose Hill, Regent’s canal and nearby Regent’s Park, despite the fact that are located near Camden Town, are among London’s less known parks, even though you can enjoy an amazing skyline of the city on top of Primerose Hill, just remember to bring food before getting on top! All people will be eating,I can assure, but there isn’t a kiosk nearby up there! A walk among floating houses and willows through Regent’s canal to Camden Lock or inside Regent’s Park are recommended too…by me of course and all the quiet inhabitants that go there for jogging, a pic nic or to walk their dog.
St Martin-in-the-fields is easy to reach, just in front National Portrait gallery. It has nothing special as Church…understand me, is a pretty one, but its chapel worth a visit especially because of the Brass Rubbing Centre it hosts. In there you have fun retrace funerary reliefs (reproductions, of course) from London’s churches and abbeys as medieval artists used to do some centuries ago. It can take from 20 minutes to 2 hours, the choice of the subject is up to you!
Just in the same area, precisely in Trafalgar Square (yes, I know I told this wasn’t the classical touristc tour, but maybe in the must-see-run you haven’t noticed all the details), south east corner, there is a hollowed-out lamp post which is actually the smallest police station in London. Don’t know if it’s smallest or cutest!
Now, when in Covent Garden, check Google map or ask someone to get into Neal’s Yard: a colorful square just out from the ’60s. Really, really colorful and really, really hippie, also with a famous cheese shop to-dye-for.
Going South east is a nice idea to have a walk through Victoria Embankment: romantic and timeless spot on river thames to end with a pic nic basket (and maybe a kiss!) inside Victoria Embankment Gardens. Another Oh-my-God-why-tourist-do-not-come-here park! And from there is a question of minutes to reach number 10 of Adam Street. Not the house of my aunt in London or a famous Hugh Grant, but the same exact copy of prime Minister house front door. Funny uh?! I don’t know why but my lawyers’ friends where the most enthusiast to pretend they got invited by the Prime Minister!
On the same side of the river, another (even more) romantic spot: St. Dunstan in the east. A garden-church where to rest on a bench among gothic arcs under a sky of trees and blue. Definitely my best discovery.