Browsing: London 2012

A summer trip to London, UK, during the 2012 Olympic Games, with a sidetrip to Nantes, France, my hometown.

London 2012
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A Simple Cure for Homesickness

I’m usually happy to visit France. I enjoy traveling and I love seeing my family. The first few days there, I immediately feel very French as I reconnect with my roots—it feels like slipping into an old pair of jeans. I catch myself thinking that it would be really nice if Feng and I could rent a place in one of Nantes’ funky neighborhoods.

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Nantes’ Non-Tourist Spots

After a few days as a tourist in my hometown, I usually enjoy getting off the beaten track and finding new places to explore, no matter how far and how gritty they can be—basically, I need some non-tourist spots.

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Nantes’ Tourist Spots

I wanted to see the world and I did. And now, I can look back and appreciate Nantes for what it is—a lovely city, really. I still wouldn’t live there again for many reasons, but visiting as a tourist feels great.

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“A Journey to Nantes” Art Project

This summer, “A Journey to Nantes” art project (“Le voyage à Nantes”) kept the crowd entertained. The 8.5 kilometre-long “cultural urban trail” across the city, from one landmark to another, was spiced up with various street art projects, from tree houses to urban playgrounds.

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The Crazy Trip from London to France

When we organized the last-minute trip to London, we also decided to cross the channel and to visit my parents in France for a few days. It just made sense: we had already flown 5,600 kilometers to the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, may as well travel a few more hundreds kilometres and stay with my family for a bit.

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Nightime in London

In London, we took the time to check out a few main places after dark, including the Jubilee Gardens with the picturesque London Eye and views on the River Thames, Carnaby Street, Piccadilly Circus and the Palace of Westminster.

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London’s Tourist Spots

In London, we spent quite a lot of time in a few tourist spots, including Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square, Victoria Embankment and Piccadilly Circus, all within walking distance from each other.

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The London Underground

The Tube is an international icon for London and its graphic elements, such as the station logo, have become easy-to-recognize pop culture symbols. There is even a popular London Transport Museum at Covent Garden, and its busy shop sells tons of Underground-branded souvenirs, such as stylish travel card wallets, prints and toys.

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By 4
London’s Parliament Square

Parliament Hill is one of my favourite landmarks in Ottawa : it’s a scenic place with great views on the Ottawa River, and there is always something going on in front of the Canadian parliament. So naturally, in London, I was drawn to Parliament Square and Westminster, the local “equivalent”.

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The Olympics Fever and Hyde Park

Even though we quickly realized that we wouldn’t be able to attend any Olympics events, we still soaked up the London 2012 Olympics Games atmosphere. Indeed, it was impossible to ignore the Olympics fever around us.

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The City and Canary Wharf, London’s Business and Financial Districts

For a district that is after all mostly office space, the City is less boring than its sounds. First, the skyline, best seen from Tower Bridge across the River Thames, is quite unique. Easy-to-recognize skyscrapers such as 30 St Mary Axe (nicknamed “the Gherkin”) or The Heron Tower (the tallest building in the City) pop up from otherwise old-looking streets with historical buildings, such as the Royal Exchange.

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London 2012 and the Olympic Venues

Even though we were not in London to attend the Games, we were kind of hoping to have the chance to do something Olympics-related, such as going to a low-demand event. Well, no such luck. Sorry to say London 2012, but I found Beijing 2008 was much better organized.

London 2012
By 16
Do You Speak British English?

I speak American/Canadian English, not British English. It always takes me a minute or two to tune to regional accents, such as Kiwi, Australian or British (for Scottish accent, it takes me a bit longer… ever watched Trainspotting? I need subtitles!).

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Green Park and Buckingham

In London you pretty much have to walk by Buckingham Palace—the official London residence and principal workplace of the British monarch—at least once. That’s what we did, after a torrential downpour (hence the dark sky in the pictures).

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The Queen’s Walk and Tower Bridge

On a quite stormy day (more on London weather later!), we got off the Tube at London Bridge and took the Queen’s Walk along the River Thames. The skyline is quite nice there, with the famous Tower Bridge in the foreground, as well as the HMS Belfast (a permanently moored museum ship, originally a Royal Navy light cruiser), the City Hall and the Tower of London.

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London’s Camden Markets

After a busy first day in London and good night’s sleep, we woke up feeling somewhat refreshed and eager to explore the city. The weather was nice, so we decided to head to Camden Town to shop at the famous Camden Markets. I don’t care how tacky and touristy these open-air markets can be, I like the place and the people.

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Jet-Lagged in London

After landing in Heathrow and convincing the immigration officer we were dutifully employed, we headed straight to the hotel we had booked just a few days earlier. While we are not picky when it comes to accommodation, we wanted to make sure we actually had a room—finding one had been almost too easy, especially considering the Olympic Games.

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Of a Last Minute Trip to London

It is 10 a.m. London time and we are standing below the huge blue “UK Border” sign at Heathrow Airport. Our plane just landed minutes ago and we sprinted to immigration control, expecting a long queue—the whole Olympic thing, you know.