11 May 2015

Alternative views of London...

When you've lived in London for a long time, much of the magic that makes it such a unique city begins to wane. The ability to dash onto a red double decker bus rolling past Big Ben, the luxurious joy of a genteel afternoon tea becomes a little bit passe and spending your weekends actually exploring the secrets of this sprawling city don't seem very important when you can go next weekend, or maybe later, or just another time, k?

Living in New Zealand I definitely think I had this syndrome for most of my life. Sure, it's a pretty country, but pretty isn't exciting is it? Mountains meeting the sea is a bit boring after the 3 sets of them locally and acres of natural forest just seem like a bug breeding ground. It took flying to the other side of the world to begin really appreciating the beauty of my native home, mostly brought about by the excitement of living in London, one of the most vibrant cities in the world steeped in thousands of years of history. For a while anyway - several years down the track my long-term Londoner Mr Kiwi and I had fallen back into the worse habit town folk can get in to - complacency. Call it laziness, call it procrastination, call it taking a fantastic city for granted, whatever - we fell back into a horrendous work/home/work rut. We became boring.
 ArcelorMittal Orbit Olympic Park designed by Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond

Then came the blog and weekends tearing around London wanting to see everything with a new found joy. We hunted down the Oranges and Lemons nursery rhyme churches, gushed over the Queen's crowns (kept rather ironically in The Tower of London the very place where many Queens lost the ability to wear them...), cantered through the cherry blossoms of Kew Gardens, pretended to be Princesses at Kensington Palace (ok, that was just me, not Mr Kiwi) and discovered a plethora of new/old secrets. We had seen everything.
 
ArcelorMittal Orbit Olympic Park designed by Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond
^ this is a real photo that I took - doesn't Zaha Hadid's swimming arena just look surreal?
So when I was contacted by The London Pass crew, to have a play with one of their passes I decided to set myself a challenge.

ArcelorMittal Orbit Olympic Park designed by Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond

Not to revisit some of the most in/famous London tourist sites tempting though it was (click the link as it covers loads of them and many have fantastic fast pass functions) but we wanted to find new experiences on the tourist trail that delighted our love of London.

ArcelorMittal Orbit Olympic Park designed by Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond
  ArcelorMittal Orbit Olympic Park designed by Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond

Our first port of call was the - recently opened to the public - ArcelorMittal Orbit; London's tallest sculpture overlooking the Olympic Park. We were extraordinarily lucky in 2012 to get Olympic Game diving tickets via the balloting system and experience the euphoric atmosphere that permeated everything, then watch the slightly more subdued, but no less exciting Paralympics. 3 years on, and we've visited before to see the developments, but not with a bird's eyeview.

After a bite of brekkie, and 15 minutes of wandering around lost thanks to a strange set of signs at Westfield (it was lovely to stretch our legs in the sunshine, but next time I'm going with Googlemaps' suggestions...) we shot in the lift to the top of the tower.

ArcelorMittal Orbit Olympic Park designed by Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond


I was a touch weak-kneed it must be said, but my better half adored the open tread stairs on the outside viewing platform so I just left him to it and took thousands of photographs. #bloglife

We popped briefly into Zaha Hadid's swimming arena - now a public baths/diving training centre (we'll be back with swimsuits in hand next time) before making our way over to Greenwich. The mission was on!


We popped past the Cutty Sark looking rather magnificent from the outside despite recent fires, took a turn through the grounds of the Greenwich Naval College before giving into the temptation of a picnic.

Cutty Sark Greenwich London

Greenwich Naval College London

 Lovely.

Greenwich Old Royal Naval College London

Bank holiday picnics London
Sustenance successfully succored, I dragged us up the hill to the Greenwich observatory (he has visited approximately 8 times over the years with various family members, but I haven't been in years) and just drank in the views.

Greenwich Old Royal Naval College London

Greenwich Observatory Meridian Line London

Greenwich Observatory Meridian Line London

02 dome London
We were lucky enough to have incredible weather - not so common for London - and could see for miles through skyscrapers and chimneys puncturing the skyline.
Greenwich Observatory Meridian Line London

to be continued anon...

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