Monday, September 12, 2011

Summer 2011: London, England

July 14-16, 2011 -- London, England was the first stop on my travels to Europe and Israel this summer. It is an ideal starting off point because of cheap flights from the U.S. and high speed trains into Continental Europe. Plus it is a world-class city and a fantastic place to visit. Despite the recent riots and looting in poorer sections of town, the city is putting on its best face for the upcoming 2012 Summer Olympics and the improvements are noticeable.

I flew the red eye on Virgin Atlantic from Washington Dulles International Airport, arriving at London Heathrow Airport early in the morning on July 15th. The Underground subway zipped me from the airport to the Swiss Cottage neighborhood in the Camden borough where my hostel was located.

Palmers Lodge is a big, busy hostel with easy access to London's extensive bus system and an Underground subway station. There are also lots of shops and restaurants in the area.

Since I was only in London for a day and a night I wanted to cover as much ground as possible. So after hopping on one of the frequent buses from Swiss Cottage to Central London, I rented a bicycle through the Barclays Cycle Hire bike sharing system.

Biking is the best way to see a lot of a city in a short amount time. In London it was a bit tricky at first because cars drive on the left side of the road. But there are also plenty of bike lanes and once the adjustment is made to the left side, London is an easy city to bike around.

Hyde Park, Serpentine Lake, The Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, Rotten Row, Wellington Arch, Buckingham Palace, Victoria Memorial, Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Palace, Trafalgar Square. These are most of the places I biked to in one day. If I was walking I might have covered half of these places.

It is not just bike sharing that makes London easy to get around. The buses run every five minutes or so and go to every corner of town, providing an additional commuting option to the extensive Underground subway system and a late night option because the Tube closes around 1 a.m.

Click here for my environmental perspective of London on my Green Center Blog.

Here are photos from London. Click here to see the set on Flickr.

And here are videos of the Underground subway and biking in Hyde Park.

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