The London Reunion after 40 years.
What a treat to return to England after a 40 year absence. I had been in London for the first 5 days and now have traveled westward to the Cotswolds, this ancient land of rolling hills, Roman walls, sheep farms, rustic villages, and simple beauty uplands.
Reasons to like London
1) About ten years ago, city officials with a clear public mandate decided that cars and people do not make for a great city. So they penalize cars for entering the city at the rate of 15 pounds a day plus charging exuberant fees for parking. Guess what, they are hardly any private cars in downtown London. Instead they have a great underground, a vastly improved bus service, hundreds of bicycles, and lots of contented pedestrians and workers walking the streets of London. Less than 15% of the motorized vehicles in downtown London are privately owned.
2) Westminster Abby- I got to attend an Evensong service the first day in London and heard the world famous Abby choir. Very cool, spiritual experience. So much of London has been destroyed by fire, bombings, warfare…but Westminister Abby retains much of its same character from the early 1200s.
- You could spend 10 full days in London and not run out of things to do. I saw a musical ( the Wicked), went to the Natural History Museum, the National Art Gallery, the Science Museum, walked and walked, ate great Italian food, mastered the underground routine and in retrospect, feel I have not really done anything in London yet.
Westminster Abby at night
4) London is clean!
5) This is a place where 2000 years of history abounds in the middle of a very modern city. I like being old enough to appreciate that London conveys that message!
Bangalore is a city of 7 million. London is a city of 7 million. End of similarities!!, I realize I could go to this place of focusing on the shock value of Bangalore which prevents any kind of objective comparison. London has and always has had a seedy side. There is a wide scale acceptance of “cheezy culture, punk culture, absolute relativism. I find the reconfiguration/legitimization in the Western world of prostitution as sex workers to be an exercise in fantasy and denial of reality. And London has plenty of that! Enough comparisons.
This is how the rest of the trip played out:
Cotswolds: Using a BnB in Cheltenham ( 40 miles west of Oxford) as a base, spend 3 days touring villages that have a history rooted in Celtic tradition/Roman occupation and Normandy occupation. Landscape is fairly flat with plenty of quaint British village life. Fun to experience an ancient environment
Wales: Spent 4 days in Wales, again using a BnB as a base in the historic town of Brecon, northern entry point to the Brecon Beacon National Park. Much more hilly than the Costwolds but the largest peak is still only 800 meters. Spent one day hiking and one day mountain biking. Saw an wonderful concert by a well known British/Welsh folk singer in St. Marks Cathedral, a church with a 700 year history.
I loved the heartiness and working class feel of this historic town. And lots of folks engaging in hiking and biking. Wales deserves another visit so I can experience the western coasts !
hiking in Brecon Beacon National Park
view from 600 meters: Brecon Beacon Nationnal Park
Swansea, the second largest city in Wales.
Swansea Castle: remains from 13th century
sail bridge: swansea