Summer 2014 saw SuperBreak launch its first ever Travel Writer Competition! We loved hearing about all your short break adventures and couldn’t get enough of reading all the wonderful entries we received. Here’s one of our favourties by Lora Ghafoor telling us why she recommends you venture a little outside the capital on your next short break in London…
We were in The Big Smoke for a night with our favourite California Girl, Katy Perry. It was a short, mid-week jaunt from Leeds that I’d been looking forward to since Christmas. We wanted to make the most of our whistle stop tour and see a different part of London.
The train made a pleasant change to the coach, and when I got off I was considerably less crumpled than if I had sat for double the time on a sticky leather seat, head vibrating against the window. I had a table and a charger and (on the return) shortbread so good that I tweeted the train company about it. It was buttery and crumbly and I could have eaten it all over again.
We hopped onto the DLR and immediately made our way to Greenwich where we had a Mean Time (see what I did there?!). The grounds are stunning; a huge green space in an otherwise crowded city. In the afternoon, later than planned, we popped into the Queen’s House. Once the home of Royals, it now houses fine art. I’d hoped to enjoy a little more of the home’s story, but there was still plenty to look at. I don’t really know much about art; what I’m looking at or what makes something ‘good’, but I still enjoy browsing. Particularly impressive were the pieces by a female artist focussing on her experience of World War 2, which were shocking and moving simultaneously. They intended to rouse a certain discomfort while expressing grief, anguish and sorrow. I think that’s the first time art has ever really made me feel anything.
Before that we had visited London’s only Planetarium and the Royal Observatory that brings us GMT. It was worth the short hike up a steep hill that one American tourist told us her partner hadn’t managed. Entry to both of the attractions was very reasonable at around £11.00 per person, including a show at the planetarium. The Steampunk exhibition included a lot of assumed knowledge, perhaps not an attraction for families; it focused on methods of calculating time if we knew then what we do now. It was complicated but extremely interesting. The huge telescope in the Observatory itself, where astronomers have spent many an hour in years gone by, was awe-inspiring. I was surprised that it still works and, some evenings, you can book to have a proper look at the stars and the price wasn’t too bad – definitely an addition to my Bucket List.
The real piece de resistance, though, was the Planetarium. Before trotting downstairs to sit under two tonne of bronze we had a look around the museum, which was frankly mind blowing. There were videos that answered big questions like ‘how hot is the sun?’ and ‘where did the earth come from?’ We took our reclined seats to view the London Sky and 30 minutes flew by as we listened to stories about constellations and details of the position of stars. Since our return I’ve raved about and recommended this experience to all sorts of people, from friends, seniors at work, the checkout lady at Asda (and now, you.)
I feel like Greenwich gets forgotten about a bit, because it’s not the Palace or the London Eye and it’s not as central, there’s perhaps less of a buzz surrounding it – before our trip I mentioned our plans and a friend asked if “What? Where the Olympic Equestrian thingy was?”. Well, actually yes, but it’s so, so much more. Your £8.00 travel pass takes you all over so venture out and you won’t be disappointed.
We love Lora’s top tips for exploring the capital! What alternative attractions can you recommend for a city break in London? Let us know using the comments box below…