ls_night_time.jpgHmmm… what to say about Leicester Square! 

The cinema and “theaterland” of London! The nightclub land! 

Or as it was to me…. a delightfull and busy square with the most delightful gigantic cuckoo clock!

Leicester Square will never be part of the romantic London that I hold so dear to my heart.  To me, it is the more robust, crowded and lively London.  A very small garden with a statue of Shakespear surrounded by Dolphins.

Of course me being me, I am not much impressed by 19th century statues or 15th century gardens.  What delighted me more were the small restaurants around Irving Street, leading to the square.  Eating in their small cramped tables arranged under striped awnings in the sunshine!  (It was warm and sunny one time, when I had visited!)

leicester-square.jpgI remember making my way through the crowded square with large movie sign boards and lots of theater ticket booths.  And finally I arrived at the other corner that houses the swiss center.  A souvenier shop at the bottom and a BIG cuckoo clock on the building facade.  And oh what fun it was, when the clock struck the hour!  A delightfull procession of clay figurines started a procession across the building facade, moving to the beat of the big bells!  Yes when the clock strikes an hour it is a complicated mix of bells strung along the building ringing in a concert.  So for 10 minutes you get treated to a medley of bell rings being played out like an beautiful, melodious orchestra.  And of course you get routed to the spot, just watching the clay dancers dance, and play violins and cows moo and oh I can go on and on! (more…)


aravs-uk-trip-2007-048.jpgI wonder why I never wrote about bankside before.  A walkway of streets along the Thames, full of so many sights and sounds that sweep over you!  As one of the touristy descriptions of the area goes… its everything from Shakespear to Bridget Jones!  The walk where trade, money-making and merry-making were stirred together!

My favorite memory of bankside is a sunny weekend in June 2007, when quiet by chance we ended up spending an entire day, doing nothing except stroll along the Thames from the Millennium Bridge to the London Bridge station.

Unlike the other stretches of walkways along Thames (either side) on that sunny afternoon we saw a beautiful and colourful London life.  The square structures of the Tate Museum did not impress the romantic in me.

But thankfully we walked on, and came across beautiful cobbled streets with colourful flowers flowering profusely from the hanging pots.  The Shakespeare Globe Theater adding a touch of drama.

The hot afternoon spent licking different (even weird) flavors of italian ice-creams from a riverside ice-cream window… walking under a bridge, where a string quartet sat playing pieces of music that I did not recognise.  But which nonetheless thrilled me to bits that warm afternoon. (more…)

“What inexhaustible food for speculation do the streets of London afford! We have not the slightest commiseration for the man who can not take up his hat and stick, and walk from Covent-garden to St. Paul’s Churchyard, and back into the bargain, without deriving some amusement – we had almost said instruction – from his perambulation”
Charles Dickens – Sketches by Boz

Well said Mr Dickens.

covent gardenIn the middle of the covent garden piazza lies the famous market designed in 1632 by Inigo Jones. But the history of the place is overshadowed by the vitality and life of the market. The shops, stalls, street performers and singers galore give a different vibe to the place. It feels like there is a festival going on, everyday!

Sigh! A day spent just walking around Covent garden is a day well spent. One can spend an entire day browsing through the stalls in the piazza, coming out of the stall browsing to stand and enjoy the performances of the street performers. But be careful, else you might get pulled into their performances as unsuspecting props.

My favorite memory of the place is feasting on hot jacket potatoes with beans on the street side, while listening to a performer croon his latest rendition in the middle of the street.

Wish I was back there right now!

Tower of London

From the looks of it, a world heritage city, and a beautiful historical structure. It is a mix of higgeledy piggeledy towers, each built in a different era, conforming to the architectural norms of the period. The tower of london may appear a romantic castle, but is prison, with a very horrific and bloody history.

The history of the british monarchy is filled with stories of murder, betyrayal, beheadings and what not. Each tower with many tales of horror. Personally I find the tale of two little princes to be the most horrific one.  The story of the murder of the two little princes. King Edward V (Age 13) and his little brother Richard, Duke of York who were Political prisoners in the tower.

Quite shaken after that story, the tower lost its charm to me … 

Read more about the gory history of the tower and the two little princes here.

Princes in the Tower

Thats Trafalgar square for me. The simple reason for this is not only its location near other tourist spots, but also for its liveliness.

trafalgar squareIf you look at it, its only a square in front of the galleries with some fountains and a historic memorial. But for a stranger to the city, not plugged into the London life, this place is buzzing with activity always.

A couple of weeks ago, had gone there without any agenda in mind. And lo and behold, the whole place was turned into a musical melee. With steel orchestras from all over the place performing enthralling music pieces one after the other. my favorite, of course was the Croydon steel orchestra.

Then a few weeks after that the India festival was kicked off in the square.

Each place of interest in London has its own plus points. Trafalgar square’s plus point is … Life.

There you are, huffing and puffing along the escalators, trying to catch the next tube to work… and suddenly you hear music, that gives you goose bumps. No, the music is not bad, the sound accoustics of the underground is amazing. In fact the music is really good sometimes. Many a times, the music from the buskers has really lifted my spirits and put a smile on my lips.

I didn’t realize until recently, that one needs a license to perform in the London tube stations. Busking was legalised in the london undergrounds only a couple of years ago (2003).

Check out more stuff written on buskers in London Underground here.