Day 2 of the bus tour.
Considering I took a 24 hour ticket and had started the previous bus day at 2pm, I had aimed to reach Hyde Park Station to take the blue route today. I managed to get there, but having had a long night, I got there late and only had about an hour or so in the bus.
I got to Hyde Park station and instead of just crossing the road to the other side to get the bus, I walked aimlessly till I wasn’t sure where the bus would come. A helpful stranger told me where to go. I reached just in time. These buses have a 20min waiting period for the next one to come, so it could have been a longish wait. I got on and immediately noticed some differences. There was no tour guide on this bus, it was mainly automated where you could hear everything through headphones. It wasn’t bad, but then you realise the difference between a human and a machine. Every time she finished one area, there was this elevator music in between which was not appealing at all. Ten minutes into the ride, the bus had to break for 10 minutes. So while sitting there, I sat and listened to my music playlist and went through a walking tour guide book, given to me by my friend.
The Blue Line is also called the Royal Borough tour and goes through places like Kensington Palace, Harrods, Victoria & Albert Museum and Albert Hall. I wasn’t particularly sure about this route, but then I thought, I wouldn’t ideally walk around this area, but would still like to see it so the bus was a good option for that. Once we reached the Museum, I got off, only to remember I didn’t like museums that much. I went in for a bit, saw a little, took one amazing picture and walked right back out.
I decided to take a local bus from here and go to Piccadilly Circus further on to Leicester Square. It was a nice bus ride. I crossed Harrods, but didn’t really want to go in, so I remained seated on the bus. I got off at Piccadilly and did the touristy thing, I went to the M&M’s store and the Lego Store for a total of 10 minutes (both combined). I mean it was interesting, but not my cup of tea. I walked further down in search of China Town, as I wanted sushi for lunch. Somehow I managed to pass it and ended up going through some quaint streets to come back to it. I had sushi in a place called Misato. I have to say, the sushi came in record time i.e. 3 minutes. It was pretty good. I guess I am used to slightly thicker maki (which usually means the rice size is bigger) but this was pretty good. I got greedy and ate some dumplings too, which were awesome.
I’m amazed at all the street performers that are there. It’s humbling to see people do something they love, in front of an unassuming and pretty tough crowd, put your hat out at the end of the show and hope for the best. It’s not something I could do, but I have to give the guy credit where its due. I ended up seeing a bit of a magic show. It was definitely more entertaining than the street dance stuff I had seen earlier. Having had a gluttonous meal, I decided to walk it to Hyde Park. It was a bit of a walk, around 25 minutes. But as the weather gods were kind, it wasn’t so bad even in the afternoon.
Hyde park is lovely. I walked in, saw some kids feeding what only looked like giant squirrels to me, but they were really friendly. One even came to me while I was filming it, but seeing I had nothing, just went off. I walked further ahead towards the Serpentine (river) and got myself an Americano from their cafe. It was a perfect day to sit in the park. I took off my shoes, put on my headphones, took out my book and sipped my coffee while resting my back on a tree. Those forty five minutes were pure bliss, till it got windy and cold. London never ceases to amaze me. One moment its hot like hell, the other, its windy and everyone is taking out their jackets. People from all walks of life were at Hyde Park. Two girls in corporate wear sitting with a picnic of hummus, crackers and olives. A middle eastern family with four kids playing football with their dad. People walking different breeds of dogs. Policemen on horses making sure everything is running smoothly. This place had a rhythm to it. I lazed undisturbed, reminded of early days when one really didn’t have a care in the world and you could sit under a tree and read for hours.
My friend had recommended Portobello from Hyde Park. So after the 45 min break, I took a bus from Knightsbridge. To those who don’t know Portobello, it’s in Notting Hill. If you don’t know or have never heard of Notting Hill, you are missing an epic movie. The bus ride was smooth. The temperature though bothers me. It is windy and a minute later you are on a bus where you just want to take off all your layers. Its pretty confusing and annoying at times.
I reached Portobello market. This market is apparently the world’s largest antiques market with over 1,000 dealers selling every kind of antique and collectibles. Hailing from India, most of the jewellery stuff just looked like things I would see in the North East, Ladakh or even Goa’s fleas markets. It was still pretty colorful and interesting as a place. I got there in the evening, so most people had begun to pack up. One of the things that intrigued me about the market in terms of what was being sold was olives. This man had an insane variety of olives, which looked so fresh, I couldn’t resist and bought some.
I wish I had stayed longer here. I think this place would have been wonderful in the day. Though one of the reasons I would come back is because I found a place called The Distillery, which has a Ginstitute Experience. They give you a history lesson in Gin, make you test a LOT of different types of gin and finally finish off by helping you create your very own blend! At the end you not only get a bottle of their unique gin but one you create to your own liking. I think it sounds like a plan. Since this takes about 2-3 hours and its usually booked in advance, I couldn’t manage it today but it remains on my to-do list.
I walked around for a bit in the market, admiring the buildings, the color, the shops and landed up at Earl of Lonsdale, an apparently popular pub in the area. It did have a fantastic beer garden, but I still had a nice gin & tonic and read my book for a bit, before finally heading home. It was such a pleasant evening, which made it all the more fun.
While walking back to the tube, I remained enamored by the architecture of the place. The beautiful colorful doors, the bright flowers, cobbled pavements. It felt like a different place in time. I was reminded of the film as I passed many a house and wondered which one could have been the one they filmed in. But with my battery running low at 10% I didn’t manage to google it. I even saw a pretty quirky sign where construction was taking place. Cheeky, actually.
The day ended with a long walk to the station, admiring Notting Hill, knowing I will see it soon.