Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Egyptians are coming

I went there in September 2009, the below review was published in Greens Magazine, 3rd issue.Thought I'd share it. I also had to reduce the size of the videos, so sorry for the quality, but you get the drift :)

Cairo-London at the new Terminal, or the old terminal, or the old new terminal?

Five hours is the time taken to fly from Cairo to London; the first stop in any journey you plan to make in the British islands. To get to your destination you have the choice between Egyptair and British Airways; the latter’s food is better, the people are more efficient and the movie list is much more updated. On the down side, extra luggage rates are rather pricey and the abundance of alcohol in-flight makes it for a bit of a stuffy ride for those of us whose olfactory senses aren’t used to the pungent smell. My opinion: go for the cheaper; I’d rather eat stringy meat if it means I would afford a trip to Stonehenge (Yes, a bunch of rocks, but it’s the journey not the destination).

Heathrow Express anyone?

Once you hit Heathrow airport and claim your luggage, you have the option between riding the underground to your destination, which takes a bit of a long time and is always crowded, or springing for a ticket aboard the Heathrow express, which is more expensive, but much more roomy and takes 20 minutes to reach the heart of London, AKA Paddington. It really depends on where you are staying, which brings us to where you’re staying, I would recommend you stay somewhere near Paddington; this ensures that you’re right in the center of everything. Another suggestion is Earls court, which is a bit far from the center, but it is cheaper and safe. As for transportation, you have to buy the Oyster Card for zones 1 &2 (as a tourist you won’t need any more zones) and you can use it for buses (double-deckers are the norm; sit on top and be amazed), trains and the underground. Remember: Taxis are for rich people and emergencies only.

The Joy of riding a double-decker bus on a cloudy day :)

Yes, it's a Porsche :)

Pots, Pans and Pretty Paths:

Markets are integral to any visit to London. There are many markets to choose from; Covent Garden market, which is very posh and near the movie theaters, or Charing Cross road which is known for its selection of bookstores and second hand bookshops, or if you’re a treasure hunter you might consider Brick Lane market, which is known for its little treasures. However, if you’re pressed for time, I would recommend Portobello Market on a Saturday morning. The market is near Notting Hill (the place not the movie), and it’s located on *surprise* Portobello road; it has everything from patterned china to rare books (a hand illustrated Arabian Nights for 90 GBP) to mouth-watering food (fresh plump raspberries, deep fried shrimp and fresh fish and chips worthy of a queen). The market is a haven for souvenir-hunting and while you scour the loitering shops, you get to be entertained by London’s anonymous artists (just pop a coin or two into their opened guitar cases).


Flower vendors everywhere
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a street musician

Lazy cat annoyed by flocks of shoppers.

As for shopping, there’s no need to go beyond Oxford Street, but if you must, make sure you visit Piccadilly Street and Harrods, to see what us regular people are missing out on.

Harrods :)

The seeing of the sights:

Anybody who’s been to London will tell you that one trip is not enough, and they’re right. However, enjoying London is all about prioritizing. There are things that you have to do such as taking a walk riverside, crossing the tower bridge of London on foot, witnessing the changing of the guard at Buckingham palace and pausing with George Clooney at Madame Tussauds.

Panoramic Shot of the Tower Bridge(You have to walk on it)

The latter things are your basic London; your average tourist things to do. If you’re more into adventure, you might consider taking a bicycle tour around London; it’s exhilarating, blood-pumping and by the end of the tour you will have dropped a kilo or two, always a plus.

The Cycling Group

If you’re into gory history stained by blood, then you have to pay a visit to the Tower of London and go down to the cellar where they tortured prisoners -they even play sounds of torture down there- it’s worthy of Hannibal Lecter. You can also catch enactments by actors of famous parts of British history and get to curse Anne Bolyen at her own trial (tomato-throwing is sadly not allowed).

Panoramic Shot of the Tower of London

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Enactment@Tower of London

Princess Diana's dresses @ Kensington Palace


If you have kids, then take them to the Science museum, where they get to see life-size models of cars, rockets and so much more. You can also reserve tickets at the Science Museum’s IMAX 3D Cinema, it’s a whole other experience and bonus for you mothers, the kids will be completely dizzy and sleepy afterwards.

One of the exhibits@ the science museum; an actual steam train :)

For the art lovers out there, make sure you catch a play or a Broadway musical at one of the many theaters scattered all over Victoria Street, and for all that’s sacred and beautiful, take a stroll through Victoria train station; it’s another country all on its own.

Victoria and Albert Museum

Of course, you mustn’t by any means miss out on the British Museum, where you get to see our very own Rosetta stone, which happens to be on loan from the Louvre!!

The British Museum entrance


For all of you superhero wannabees, make sure you take the train to Greenwich, where you get to be in two time zones at once (so, that’s where GMT comes from), and you can even print a certificate to that effect.

You will literally be standing in two time zones ;)

Panoramic Shot of Greenwich

To satisfy the Thumbelina in you, pay a visit to Tate modern and go to Robert Therrien’s display called “Table and four chairs”, you will feel tiny.

For all the sports fans, visit Wembley Stadium -where we played against England last March- and Emirates Stadium, (book the tours in advance) and imagine you’re Beckham scoring the winning goal *and the crowds go wild*.

Panoramic shot of Wimbley stadium

A Stroll is all you need:

London is a city that invites you to walk and the resulting thrill is the best memory you can take back home.

Cute Squirrel with a bushy tail :)


Make sure you go to Trafalgar Square at night because the lighting is amazing and they usually set up different art exhibitions that you can roam for free.

Art Exhibition @ Trafalgar Square; people were actually playing with it :)

Got the time?? Well, all you need is to walk by Big Ben, and take some photos beside the world’s most famous clock. Near Big Ben, you will find the famous houses of parliaments, which are architecturally magnificent. Just walk, London will take care of the rest.

Big Ben


At the end, you will feel like Charlie visiting the chocolate factory; it’s surprising, encompassing and greatly satisfying.



------------------------ End of Published Review--------------------

The concert:

I went to a Coldplay concert the first day I was there. It was amazing; they bring such invigorating energy to the stage. It was a mind-blowing experience and I had fun. After the concert they distributed free CDs of some of the songs they play, aren't they the greatest? I kept listening to it for months on end after I returned.

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The stage during Yellow. It was MAGNIFICENT.

The Stage after sunset; lovely :)

JayZ warming up the crowds. I really liked him, which was surprising.

Colplay being awesome :D

Hyde Park is another great spot, once I woke up early, bought breakfast from a cafe (Cinnamon bun and Coffee, YUMMY) and went to the park and had breakfast there. I sat for an hour watching people jog, cycle, going to work,etc... It's the best spot for people watching and on Sunday, people go there and just give speeches, like Rome in the past.

The sleeping pigeon
Sepia shot of the park

Yes, there's a lake with swans in it :)



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