Travel Blog: London

The idea of travelling alone is not something which worried me in any way; it was just something I had never done before. I have always been blessed with a group of friends and a beautiful partner who were always willing to participate in my international exploits.

However, when the offer to go to London unaccompanied came into my inbox, I simply couldn’t turn it down. I hadn’t stepped foot in the city in around 13 years. A visit was long overdue…

 

I was staying in the Docklands area of the large city; more specifically, the Royal Victoria Dock, the largest of the three docks. The main attraction of the Royal Victoria Dock is the massive ExCeL Exhibition Centre which is visible from pretty much every point of the dock. There were multiple different events happening in the ExCeL while I was there, resulting in a continuous steady flow of traffic in and out of the building. I even visited the centre myself; however, more on this later.

I only had a few days in the capital and wasted no time in getting neck deep in some sightseeing; jumping on the spectacular London transport system and heading to Trafalgar Square.

Trafalgar Square is a beautiful landmark noted for its history as a gathering place for political protests. It is the home of the infamous “Bloody Sunday” demonstration. The square is unmissable, with Nelson’s Column standing high in the centre of the square, “guarded” by four equally impressive lion statues.

For the size of London, some of the tourist attractions are actually quite close together. From Trafalgar Square it was a simple walk straight down Whitehall Road to Parliament Square which ticked off many items on my London “must-see” list such as Downing Street, Big Ben, London Eye and Westminster Abbey.

 

On the Saturday I jumped across to the ExCeL Centre and spent some time at the London Super Comic Con event. Most people who follow me on social media know of my geeky love for comic books, so this event was a big win for me. The biggest Comic Con in the UK; I had never been to anything like this before. There was creators and attendees from all over the world. It was great to hang out with some of my geek-friends who I haven’t seen in a very long time!

 

With only a day left in my trip to London left, I decided to get my tourism back into gear. I walked down to, and through, the beautiful St James Park before settling down for a while across from Buckingham Palace. To be honest, there really isn’t much in the form of entertainment outside of Buckingham Palace, except of course, people watching. It is just lucky that people watching is in fact one of my favourite pastimes!

After some downtime in the apartment, I travelled down to Brixton for dinner, meeting an old friend I haven’t seen in years. We hadn’t had time together since our long lost days in university. We ordered some fantastic Thai food in Brixton Market before settling down to a great pub called Dogstar to get slowly but surely drunk…

 

I am a massive football (or soccer, to my American followers) fan, so no trip to London would be complete without checking out some of the world-class football stadiums in the city. My flight home didn’t leave until 7pm – so I had a morning to spend stadium-hopping. First on my list was Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge and Tottenham’s White Hart Lane before heading along to Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium. The Emirates Stadium was last on my last for a good reason. My visit to the stadium took place the day before a Champions League clash with Barcelona. I had managed to snag a ticket to the very last tour of the stadium before they closed the doors to finish preparations for the game.  I was essentially behind the scenes at a Champions League match! It was amazing to see the massive amount of work that transforms the stadium for European football.

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Royal Victoria Dock

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The Lions of Trafalgar Square

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A view down Whitehall Road … from Trafalgar Square to Big Ben.

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Downing Street

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Travel Blog: Berlin (Part 2)

The world I heard most often in Berlin was definitely “rebuilt”.

From the time I spend there, one thing became perfectly clear, Berlin was bombed to ruins during the Second World War. Seriously, go on the “big red tourist bus”; I promise almost every single attraction will have been “rebuilt” after the war.

One of those attractions to have been rebuilt was Berlin Zoo.

Germany’s oldest zoo, it hosts a collection of over 16,000 animals. Rebuilt after the war, it received heavy artillery fire; only 91 of the animals survived the war. I loved Berlin zoo. While I am not entirely comfortable with the thought of a zoo at all, there is no denying that seeing some of the world’s rarest animals is a thrilling experience. The zoo’s separate aquarium is also absolutely worth the money.

After the Zoo, we headed along to the infamous Alexanderplatz; the largest urban square in the whole of Germany. If I am honest with you, we didn’t spent much time in the square. At that time of year (December) it is entirely taken over by a Christmas market and shopping stalls. If I am honest with you, by this point in the trip, we were both pretty much burned out on these entertainment options.

However,  my girlfriend and I spent significantly more time in another German urban square, Postdamer Platz. During the war, Potsdamer Platz was almost completely destroyed (as with most other things…) and spent more than 40 years in a state of wasteland located between the East and West. After the city’s reunification though, Berlin had the unique opportunity to completely rebuild a section of their city centre. They have done well; even the sceptics have had to admit that Potsdamer Platz has been a great success.

My MUST SEE from Postdamer Platz is Panoramapunkt, a stunning viewing platform offering a 360° panoramic view of Berlin. This offers one of the best opportunities for photographs in the whole of Berlin; a must for budding photographers.
An added bonus is the ability to ride the fastest lift in Europe; taking just 20 seconds to reach the top the 24th floor. Stomach churning, but enjoyable!

Checkpoint Charlie was next on this speedy tour of the city. Checkpoint Charlie is the most famous East German-West German border crossing. You will no doubt have heard of/seen it before; this particular army crossing is a favourite for many thriller and espionage movies. One of the reason for its fame is the so-called “tank stand-off” which occurred on October 1961 during the Cold War.
The threat of war was high; but no one fired. It is a really interesting story, if you’re not aware of it, you should look it up.

After all of this walking around the city … we felt we needed a little substanance to fill our rumbling bellies! Pfffft, who needs substanence when you can have sugar!

Fassbender and Rausch is the famous Chocolate producer from the center of Berlin. However, it isn’t just a haven for those with a sweet tooth, it also offers plenty in the way of eye candy: scaled-down (yet somehow still enormous) chocolate sculptures of Berlin landmarks. You can pick a selection of specially made sweets; however, we ended up buying pre-packaged chocolate (which was lovely) after sauntering around lost for a while. We simply couldn’t make our minds up. Far too much to choose from! haha

Close to the Brandenburg Gate in the heart of Berlin is the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Made up of 2,711 concrete pillars of varying heights, the final appearance creates a grid-like structure. The uneven terrain helps with the overall effect, creating a beautiful wave like effect. It’s powerful to see and is a fitting tribute to those lost in such a horrific manner.

Now… last week I promised to talk about the Reichstag Glass Dome.

This was the last thing we did in Berlin, attending on our final night. The Reichstag was redesigned between 1994 and 1999 as a modern Parliament building with an attempt to retain the extensive, historical dimensions.

Part of the redesign was the opening of an accessible Glass Dome. Originally the glass generated a lot of controversy, but has since become one of the landmarks of Berlin. You can see why. It’s a stunning piece of architecture.

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Travel Tips from Travel Bloggers

Despite the only recent creation of Gallous Lad, I have been writing and creating content for external websites and blogs for a number of years now.

Throughout this journey, I have had the privilege of meeting a whole host of incredible writers…and more importantly, incredible people. These writers have gathered experience and expertise in a multitude of different sectors including food, music, fashion and travel.

I decided it would be interesting to pull on these resources to deliver the Top Tips from these sectors.

 

Today I bring to you the top tips from some of my favourite travel bloggers … and myself!

 

gallous

Gallous Lad

You’re on my blog; but find me on Facebook or Twitter

“I guess my top tip would be a simple one; a while back I purchased duplicates of all my necessary chargers from the pound store … these stay in my travel bag at all times … that way, I never forget a charger again.”

 
 
stefanie

Stéphanie Langlet

View Stephanie’s Blog

“You should always answer “I have no plan yet” when someone asks you about your plan (you’ll be invited everywhere).

Take the local buses to be with local people … but the early ones. If you’re fired from a bus as I was in the Vietnamese mountains, you’ll still have plenty of time to catch another one!”

 
 

vinh

Vinh Nguyen

View Vinh’s Blog

“Sometimes you need to put the guidebook into your backpack, and just get lost wandering.

The beauty of spotting something beautiful hidden somewhere in the corner surely makes your day!”

 
 

evan

Evan Palogan

View Evan’s Blog

“Speak to fellow tourists and hear their stories.

It is inspiring to hear their about their best experiences and…the worst too.

For me it is a learning moment because you’ll start to hear from their voices when something is exciting and what they are truly fond of or what they are passionate about.”

 
 

ajay

Ajay Sood

View Ajay’s Blog

“As a Travel Photographer, my favourite is to ask the guide the best vantage to shoot the landmark/attraction from. Rather than only seeing the attraction, my interest lies in photographing it in a delectable manner!”

 
 
valentina

Valentina Rago

View Valentina’s Blog

“Eat with the locals when possible and try their food!!

That way you can really understand the culture of the country you’re visiting and experience how they really live.”

 
 
IF you are interested in travel, you may want to check out my recent trip to the beautiful village of Culross in Scotland.