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Friday, 21 May 2010

The Ultimate Shopping Centre of London

Any tourist who has made the way to London will be considered not having a piece of London shopping unless he or she has made it to Harrods. I made my way to Harrods via the Knightsbridge Tube Station. I think it is more a tourist sight than a shopping centre, because I saw more tourists than shoppers there.

When I was on my way to this lavish departmental store, some bored car passengers caught in the traffic jam kept waving at me, just to show me some thumbs-up to me. I don't know whether there meant themselves or Harrods, or Mohamed Al-Fayed.

I first headed to the food section, as this is my favourite part of any departmental store.

The food hall will not disappoint any food connoisseur as there were more variety than I could imagine.

I like the dessert section most as it was really colourful. However, the prices set me back from taking anything out from the display counter. Can you imagine how much does this 'fruit cake' cost? The price tag says, "£4,999.00!"

The chocolate section was also not a disappointment. However, I have seen the equally stylish and mouth-watering display in Japan.

As the leading departmental store in London, there shouldn't be any lacking in stock of English teas, or should I say "Harrods Teas."

All the other sections selling branded stuff have very typical layout which has nothing to shout about.

However, Harrods does sell jukebox machine too! This is something rare that you won't see in a normal departmental store.

Since the former owner of Harrods; Mohamed Al-Fayed, is an Egyptian, part of the departmental store was turned into an Egyptian-themed section. The escalator is also called the Egyptian escalator at this section.

Mohamed Al-Fayed also built a memorial fountain for his son Dodi Fayed and Diana, Princess of Wales. The pyramid at the centre of the fountain holds a wine glass smudged with lipstick from Diana's last dinner and the 'engagement ring' Dodi purchased the day before the fatal accident.

Harrods is no more in possession of Mohamed Al-Fayed since 8th May 2010, as it has been sold off to the Qatar royal family for £1.5 billion.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Bubble Bobble

Location: Stutong Park, Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia
Date taken: 17th April 2010
Camera equipment: Nikon D300 + Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8D + Nikon Speedlight SB-800 + Nissin Speedlite Di622

Sunday, 16 May 2010

A Walk in the City of London on the Queen's Birthday

The Queen's birthday celebration falls on June the 13th every year, but the actual birthday of the Queen is in April. It is celebrated in June due to the better weather at this time of the year.

It was the Queen's birthday in year of 2009 that I took a walk around the city centre of London. I started the journey on that day from King's Cross Station which was just very near to where I stayed.

The best way to explore the city of London is by the Tube, and the most convenient way to take the Tube is by the Oyster card. You can't use it to buy oysters, though.

My first stop was the Chancery Lane Tube Station, where I started my Queen's birthday walk.

Once I got on to the street level, there were already quite a number of old buildings of the Georgian or Victorian style meeting my eyes.

As I walked along Fleet Street, I came across this very old St. Dunstan in the West Church. It is probably just slightly less than a thousand years old.

Something unique about this old church is that it has the one and only statue of Queen Elizabeth I around the world according to a tour guide that I overhead. Furthermore, it was contemporary with her, therefore it should be a very close depiction of her.

Dr Johnson's House is also nearby this old church, so I dropped by. Samuel Johnson was an English author who wrote the Dictionary of the English Language that became the pre-eminent British dictionary which was the most commonly used dictionary before the Oxford English Dictionary appeared 150 years later.

From Dr Johnson's House, I proceeded to St. Paul's Cathedral, the most recognisable and famous landmark of London designed by Sir Christopher Wren. The clock tower and the Great West Door is self-explanatory to be at the west end.

The interior is just splendid and dazzling with gilded ceilings and domes.

Visitors are allowed to climb up to the Whispering Gallery at 30 m above the Cathedral floor via 259 steps, which is the lower ring of the main dome.

Another 119 steps up took me to the Stone Gallery that offers a 360-degree panoramic view of the city. I wanted to climb another 152 steps up to the Golden Gallery to have a higher vantage point but unfortunately it was closed for restoration at the time of my visit.

As I mentioned earlier, this was the Queen's birthday, so I was lucky to witness the performance of Royal Air Force from a high vantage point at the Stone Gallery.

It was already lunch time when I came down to the Cathedral floor level, so I headed to the cafe at the fascinating crypt. I had a sandwich and a scone with a cup of cappuccino to wash down all those solid food. The scone has got to be the best I have ever tasted!

I left the Cathedral after this simple lunch and kept exploring the city. I walked pass Barbican and some other interesting-looking buildings.

When I arrived at the Guildhall, there was a team of TV crews shooting for a documentary, so I stayed for a while to watch the shooting. I am not sure whether I was featured in the documentary. Anybody who has come across it may inform me about it.

From there, I continued on to the Monument to the Great Fire of London, or simply, The Monument which was also designed by Sir Christopher Wren. By the name of it, it was built to mark the starting point of the Great Fire of London in 1666.

When I arrived at the Tower of London, it was only 15 minutes before the closing time, so I did not manage to visit it on that day. When I took a rest at the square outside the Tower of London, I was sitting beside a French lady who was not so fluent in English. We still tried to chat and she asked me whether London or Paris was nicer. I replied "London" without a doubt. That was due to my bad experience with pick-pocketing in Paris. She strongly disagreed, but couldn't argue back due to her lack of proficiency in English. She could only say that London buildings are very boring.

I walked across the Tower Bridge and came to the City Hall but it was also closed. I had nothing better to do, so I just sat around and did people watching.

When it was about time for dinner, I took the Tube back to where I stayed in London.

The next day was my birthday.

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