I’ve been to London 11 times but this year I visited for the first time the beautiful and affluent London neighbourhood called Hampstead. I spent a wonderful day walking around Hampstead’s charming streets and I bumped into a few celebrities (Emma Thompson and Rowan Atkinson, be still my heart 🙂 ). Moreover, I almost got lost in the huge forest-like Hampstead Heath park. There you can find one of the most recognizable properties run by the English Heritage and immortalized in Richard Curtis’s movie Notting Hill. Of course, I’m talking about the Kenwood house. My reason for visiting this stately home was the aforementioned movie with Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant. It’s one of my favourite feel-good movies.
There’s no better way to start a day but to indulge in a bit of commercial magic: taking my photo at the 9 ¾ platform at King’s Cross was a fun experience. After my Harry Potter’s fan moment I was ready to do something completely different. I wanted to wander around beautiful Hampstead. Armed with nothing but a printed out blog post by A Lady in London I was eager to explore an affluent London’s neighbourhood often described as a colorful charming village full of Aston Martins.
Leaving the tube station Hampstead I looked around and smiled. I could smell the promise of a great day in the crisp air. I turned right and started walking uphill Heath Street while admiring the beautiful houses and their immaculate gardens. I actually felt like I was walking around an English village. I couldn’t believe that I was still in London. It was sunny but at 10 am there weren’t a lot of people out and about. Soon I saw a sign for Holly Bush pub but I didn’t come across Church Row street which I was supposed to according to the directions that I was following.
Never mind, I continued to walk on and soon reached a sculpture of Churchill in front of a shop. Why was he there? And was that his American counterpart with him? I marched on and came to a roundabout with a small lake/pond and saw a Jack Straws Castle. Wasn’t that a pub before? Now it seemed to be some sort of fitness center. I figured I went on too far and decided to go back down the street towards the tube station to try to find the Church Row street.
It’s been a month of travel for me: a short weekend break to Stockholm, Sweden with my husband followed by a trip to London on my own and then another business trip to the South of France last week. It sounds great but honestly I just feel exhausted now. Not because of all the travelling I did but because of all the work that I’ve been doing lately. And I still haven’t written much about my travels (especially about Stockholm). So, when I saw the new topic for June’s Travel Link Up I didn’t really know whether I’ll have the time or the energy to write anything but since I really like the topic I decided to give it a try.
What makes a place unexpected? Our expectations, scenery, people or something else; it’s hard to say really. I rarely go somewhere without the exhaustive preparations which include hours spent online (and offline:guidebooks) reading about the sights/landmarks/interesting things to do and to see in a city/country. But sometimes I don’t have enough time to do my usual travel preparations or I just book something almost on a whim and decide not to explore the place too much before the actual trip which usually results in being pleasantly surprised by such a place.
So what places have surprised me lately?The most recent city that I’ve found to be extraordinarily beautiful is Stockholm. My husband and I arrived on a Friday evening (in April) and left on a Monday morning so in reality we only had 48 h to see Stockholm. That’s why I didn’t want to over-plan our stay and I’ve decided to focus mostly on the Old Town (Gamla Stan) and to visit a few museums. Anyway, I was very pleasantly surprised by Stockholm since I really didn’t expect to like it so much.
Some things always bring a smile to my face: chocolate, cats and the sight of Big Ben, just to name a few. I love travelling and I’m sure that a lot of you fellow travellers have a favourite city, place, region or even a country but I also know that it might be difficult to explain to other people why you prefer one place over another when there are so many gorgeous places in this world.
London is loved by many but you might wonder what made someone from a small country by the sea (Croatia) fell in love so much with such a huge city. I’ve tried to explain it a bit before but I’ve come to realize that love cannot be explained. We are who we are and we love what we love even if it defies logic or reason. I’ve first visited London in 2006. Since then I’ve been coming back almost once a year, always finding new things to discover and always re-visiting my favourites. It was a coincidence that I booked my eleventh visit to London on 11 of May, 10 years after the first visit. I usually go to London with my best friend ( I also showed London to my husband when we visited Scotland) but this time I went alone.
I arrived to London on Wednesday evening and returned home on Sunday morning so I had 3 full days in London; 72 hours to wander, to admire, to take photos, to say goodbye. I’ll write about my adventures but for now just a teaser of what’s to come. Enjoy 🙂