Tower of London & Tower Bridge

My first look at the Tower of London, was accompanied by a question why are the towers looking grey when they look brown on television? 

After stopping for a quick-lunch at Horse Guards Parade,  we got up on another Hop-On Hop -Off bus and got down at the bus stop for the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge. at the onset, let me tell you that I did not enter the Tower of London, but that didnt stop me from getting some photographs of the Tower. What I enjoyed the most was the beautiful Tower Bridge , although I’ m still debating about its colour.

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This photograph was taken from the steps leading to the Thames Bank. at 3:30 pm in the afternoon, the sun was glowing like it was mid-day and there were people all around. Some tourists like us, some school children, out for a walk after a hectic school day, some rushing for corporate meeting in the nearby offices; the bank was abuzz with activities.

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Getting a closer look of the Tower Bridge, made me wonder how lucky I was to have been able to witness one of the historic sites of London. Whenever, London is spoken of The Tower Bridge is the first thing that comes to the minds of most people; and quite rightly so. 

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Here is another version of the same photograph. I somehow liked the ambience and wanted to immortalize it in Black and White.

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This was shot while walking on the Bridge . 

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This skyline says it all- Why London is the business capital of the world? 

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As we were nearing the Tower, I was wondering why it looked so small. I did not realise that I was only seeing a small glimpse of it from the sides.

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This and much more beyond the castle ramparts is what years of London’s history stands for inside the Tower of London. Looking at this frame in reality, reminded me of two things. First, if any place in this world was truly haunted then maybe it is the remnant of the executing prison in front of me. Further, while taking a round of the castle walls I came across a moat, which reminded me of my great memories of falling in the moats of every fort I had visited back in India. Thankfully, this one spared me! Declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this is a must visit and is a top priority on my bucketlist. I have already started making plans for my second visit to London to see the Tower of London especially. 

On our way back from the Tower, I started playing with the framing of the London Eye and its surroundings. Here are some of the photographs. 

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Here are some important information about the Tower: 

Address:  London EC3N 4AB

Opening Times: Tuesday- Saturday 9 AM- 5:30 PM 

                                Sunday and Monday 10 AM- 5:30 PM

Entry Fees:  Adult: £25; Child : £12; Student Concessions: £19.50 

                        Note : All rates are reduced by £2 when booked online. 

Website: http://www.hrp.org.uk/tower-of-london/#gs.=Um7Ykk 

Do let me know which is your favourite photograph and why? I would come back next week again with the final destination of my London Vacation- The Royal Buckingham Palace. 

Madame Tussauds: Turns on the Selfie Mode

Madame Tussauds needs no introduction. Does it? With over twelve branches all over the world in places like L.A, Amsterdam, Germany and the most noted one in London, Madame Tussauds is a craze everywhere. Everyday, hundreds of people only dream to visit one of the Madame Tussauds Museums; preferably the one in London ; and click photographs with their favorite celebrities. And, I started my  Day 3 of London Adventures with a visit to the Madame Tussauds museum, early morning at 9:30 am.

The moment the elevators to the  display room opened, the wall which adorned several virtual media photographer visuals greeted me. With real lights imitating the flash of the camera; it made me feel like an important person. In fact, that can make anyone feel like an important person. Oh and the red carpet accompanied it 😛 !  When I walked into the room; it was already full . I could hear giggles, laughter, high pitch voices of excitement, everywhere throughout the room. 

Being an Indian, naturally my first interest was towards the Bollywood celebrities. While I knew about Amitabh, Aishwarya and Shah Rukh Khan’s presence; Katrina came as a surprise. Moreover, Shah Rukh Khan was the only celebrity, whose wax statue was changed and given the avatar of his on-screen character in his newly released movie FAN.

Bollywood

Hollywood

Taking photographs with the Hollywood celebs was the major highlight for me. I personally, adore Leonardo Di Caprio, Sir Ben Kingsley, Julia Roberts and the outspoken Emma Watson. 

World Leaders

After a while, my camera gave up. (I had taken far too many photographs than the memory card could hold 😛 ) So, I started taking selfies. To be honest, I am not a selfie person but without a camera what else could I do; and when in Tussauds selfie is the Tussauds way. 

Classics

One cannot really forget the yesteryear classics. Though, I would not call Srek yesteryear ; cause it is very much relevant even today; but nevertheless, Srek truly is a Classic in its own way. Also, I don’t normally go out for a ride, but when I do, I take ET for the ride with me. 😛 . 

Music

Can music ever be discussed without mentioning The Beatles? 

Sports

I am not much of a sports fan, but I wouldn’t mind posing for one photo? 

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History

While I had thought that Tussauds only hosts wax statues, I was for a surprise when the journey continued on a ride. The ride lasting for about five minutes turning left, right, up down, diagonal and all probable paths possible illustrated the history of London through wax statues. From William Shakespeare, to the dungeons ; from market scenes to misery, plague and death every scene was depicted as if it was happening in front of the audience. 

Unforgettable Memories

At the end of the day, what one takes away from Tussauds is memories. Oh and a selfie/ photo with Lady Marie Tussauds, after whom the entire museum is named. 

The highlights of the museum are :

  • Taking photographs with your much-loved celebrities. 
  • Exploring the history of London through a ride.
  • Watching the Marvel 4-D show (optional)
  • Getting a first hand demo on how the wax statues are actually made.
  • Walking the ramp in front of Anna Wintour and getting a photograph of it. 
  • Shopping at the Tussauds shop. 

Some additional Information about the museum:

Address: Marylebone Rd, London NW1 5LR

Opening Days: Monday- Friday: 9:30  AM- 5: 30 PM

                             Saturday- Sunday: 9 AM- 6 PM 

Tickets: Standard £23.79 (approx.) 

Official Website: https://www.madametussauds.co.uk/london/en/

Tip: It is better to book the tickets online rather than wait in the queue to purchase it physically. Buying it online, makes it less expensive and saves time and energy. Also, Madame Tussauds is managed by the Merlin Entertainments. There are certain clubbed passes available where one can get entries to two or more attractions by the Merlin Entertainments along with Madame Tussauds. 

London Calling . . . . .

“Travelling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

I believe that travelling is not only a narration of the do’s and don’ts regarding a specific place but to take the audience on the journey of the place with me. It is no fun to describe the feelings of the different places that I had visited without building a mood to those places. That is precisely why I want to take you on a journey with me to London . . . . from the beginning. 

Preparations for visiting the place had begun a month earlier than the actual departure date. From hunting down budget hotels and guest houses to stay to having a look at the places which were an absolute visit and their entrance fees, took many nights of prior planning. 

It is often said that the best trips are taken when you let the roads take the better of you; but in some places it is of utmost importance that prior planning is done. London is considered as the business capital of the world. From business  meetings to academic conferences, from movie shootings to touristy trips; everything finds its hotspot in London. It is a city which is very busy and thus, one needs to make sure that there is availability of space to accommodate them in the whirlwind of activity that comprise London. 

After a lot of research and discussion, we planned for a mid-morning train from the Piccadilly to London Euston. We (a group of four) were to stay in two different places. While my parents chose Holiday Inn, my friend and I preferred to live in the YMCA Youth Hostel London. Both the places were at a walking distance from each other.

For touring purposes, we settled for Oyester cards which allowed us to ride on any bus or tubes; and for touring the city we opted for the Hop On /Hop off buses which toured the main attractions of the city.  We had decided not to miss Madame Tussaud’s,  Trafalgar Square , Westminster Abbey, Tower of London and Big Ben at any cost. 

Thus, we set out enthusiastically on a bright Tuesday morning to catch our train to the city of Dreams. The train made three stops before terminating in London -Stockport, Macclesfield and Stoke-on-Trent. It was then that I remembered that I had boarded a similar train last year when I had travelled to Macclesfield with my friends. The train stopped at Stockport first. 

Stockport
Stockport

Every time I sit in the train and take out my camera, a thousand thoughts create a whirlpool in my mind. Most of the time the primary thought is of the glasses which reflect the light on the windows and destroy my photographs and how I should try to look for some Reflective Filters in Jessops when I go back. But then, I remember that I hardly have time to do that before the next trip comes along. Stockport is very near to Manchester. It takes around ten minutes by train. In fact regular buses leave for Stockport from the Piccadilly Bus Station. If my memory does not fail me it is the bus 42. 

Stockport
Stockport

It becomes difficult, most of the time , almost impossible to be honest to capture good shots from inside the train. Primarily because the objects move very fast. Further, there is always a huge distance between the object you want to capture and your position. Due to this, I mostly get frames where the sky occupies three -fourths of the frame and the land is almost overshadowed by the amount of sky captured in the frame.  

Passing through Stockport reminded me of my plans to visit this place soon. I remember seeing pictures of the beautiful surroundings of this place on the profile of a friend. Since then I have made a plan to visit this place soon. Only the ‘soon’ never came till date.

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Macclesfield

Passing through Macclesfield reminded me of the great time I had with my friends here last year. It was a day trip that we embarked upon. Macclesfield, to me would be described as  a small and cosy city.  It almost resembles one of those settlements where the permanent residents knew each other. The best part of the city was the 108 steps to the Macclesfield Church,  which BTW we climbed down to the station. But the view , at night, from those steps was mesmerizing. 

Stoke-on-Trent
Stoke-on-Trent

I had heard about Stoke-on-Trent but never really thought of it as a place in my bucketlist. Although, let me be honest I am not opposed to going there, but it does not feature in my immediate bucketlist. Stoke-on-Trent was like those typical countryside landscape where there were open fields and sheeps grazing all over. 

Stoke- on- Trent
Stoke- on- Trent

The beautiful canopies of trees were interrupted by long stretches of open fields separated by short rows of bushes and plants. It was a pleasing sight to see sheeps grazing under the bright glowing sun and (imagining) the cold wind blowing outside. Sunny days are a rarity in the UK. It is something that I have told in almost all my posts and will repeat it over and over again. Thus, while back in India I used to curse the sun, here I pray for the sun . But on the bright side, London is not as cold as Manchester and thus the temperature was supposed to be pleasant during our stay according to the weather site I had consulted. 

Stoke-on Trent
Stoke-on- Trent

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” – Gustave Flaubert

At times I felt like those tiny little sheeps grazing in the open fields. In reality, I am nothing but a tiny speck in this entire world. There are so many places to see and visit. So many different cultures to be experienced. So many people to meet. So many photographs to take. The hunger for travel and the thirst for exploring the world is a never-ending one. I realised that no matter how many places – big or small I have been to, as a traveller I remain ever dissatisfied. Is it good or is it bad? This is a question I often ask myself, but have no answer. I did not want to find an answer to this question as well, not while I was on the way to one of the world’s greatest cities. Such philosophical questions can be answered later . 

Fields
Fields

As we were on the outskirts of Stoke-on- Trent, I started listening to some music on my phone, until I saw this (photo above). This must be familiar to many people but it resembled the mustard fields in India. Well, you can debate about sunflower fields too but, sunflowers are taller in height than the height of this field. It reminded me of the famous scene from the Hindi movie Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge where Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol were running amongst such fields expressing their love for each other. 

Industries
Industries

We were not far away from London when I saw this industry outside the city. It was like the business capital of the world was welcoming me through this industry, a global symbol of business. Industries always remind me of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. As I was not very sure what factory this was, I imagined it to be my Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. 

Entering London Euston Station
Entering London Euston Station

This was taken right outside the Euston Station, London. As we entered the station, I only started calculating the time it would take me to reach my hostel, freshen up, have food and set out exploring the city. Numerous times, images of the London Eye, Tower of London, London Bridge flashed in my mind’s eye and evoked in me a feeling , a curiosity to set my eyes on them as fast as possible. I realised that “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

I had no idea that all the traditional imageries of London was to be broken . I was to discover London through my eyes and put in them my emotions. It is said that “To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” – Aldous Huxley; and I discovered that this was true. 

A very interesting adventure lay ahead of me. And ahead of you as we embark on a written journey of London in my next posts. . . . . . 

 

Photo Feature: Instapics

Having a Social Media presence on a variety of platforms is the ‘in thing’ in contemporary digital world. Thus, I too have an Instagram account, where I share some of my photographs . Here are some of my favourite photographs, from Instagram. I believe, every photo has a story in it and a story behind it. While the story inside the photographs are quite visible, this is the first time, I would probably explain the stories behind it. 

8. 

This was taken in Albert Square Manchester during the Christmas Lights Switch on. There were around thousands of people gathered in the Manchester Council to see the big Santa being lighted.

You can have a look at the entire event at https://trekkersoftheeast.wordpress.com/2015/11/08/city-council-comes-alive-with-the-lights-of-christmas/ 

7. 

It is not that I am an avid fan of cats, but I like them. They are sweet and cute. My college is technically incomplete without cats. There have been times when they have actually entered classrooms and sat down as additional students. This cat was taking a nice winter afternoon sun bath amongst the bushes when I clicked him. This photo was taken by my mobile as I did not take my camera to college.

6. 

China Town, Manchester is a lovely place. It is just off the corner from Manchester Piccadilly. This huge ornamental gate is almost like a symbol to this ancient culture. Chinatown is flooded with amazing Chinese and Thai restaurants and takeaways. This is one place that cannot be missed in your bucket list for Manchester Sightseeing.

5. 

The very first cup of Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows that I made myself. I don’t usually cook or mix a drink, maybe because I am not very good at either. but when it came to making a cup of Hot Chocolate, I did give it a shot. P.S It was not very bad either 😛 , but not something that I would make ever so often .

4. 

A bit too late to put up Christmas Photographs isn’t it? Well, I completely agree. But I just like the look of the photo. It was taken during a very cold and freezing evening. It gives me chills, when I think of how I removed my gloves to shoot this photo. 

3. 

Taken during one of my rare vacations in Jaipur, Rajasthan, this is a photo of the beautiful palace in the Amer Fort. Built by the fierce Rajput rulers of this state, the Amer Fort and the structural construction within it draw heavily from both Hindu and Mughal architecture. Though this place is a must visit in Jaipur, I would advise you to take the trip in Winters and not in the scorching summer sun. 

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This too has been taken inside the Amer Fort. This is the entrance to one of the temples in the fort. Interestingly, I have often tried to count the number of steps but have lost myself somewhere in the middle. Have you been successful in counting the total number of steps? 

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This photo is my most favourite one out of the whole lot. It was taken in Burra Bazaar, North Kolkata while I was out on a heritage tour to some of the nearby Synagogues and a Temple. It was during a small food break that we took in between our sightseeing, that a friend wanted to enjoy juicy oranges under the warm winter sun. This photo was taken when she was purchasing the oranges from the seller.

Which one is your favourite photo? Do comment and let me know why? I would also appreciate if you do find faults in them and would like to let  me know how I could improve on my skills in the comment section below. Thanks. 🙂