Tag Archives: sightseeing

Field Notes | Walking to Strand Campus

Time: (morning rush)

8:30am – 9:30am (typical London workday is 9-5 or 10-6);shops generally open between 10 and 11am; larger chain restaurants open between 7 and 9am, smaller cafes and restaurants may not open until 10 or later)

People and Activities: (varied by area)

St Katherine’s Docks – sparsely populated, mostly men and women on their way to the Tower Hill Tube Station (business professionals) wearing suits or business-appropriate attire, assumed middle class, many taking personal calls on mobile phones, most walking alone, occasional solo runners, little interaction with others, restaurant staff setting up chairs & table settings for the day, short queue at the pop-up coffee vendor’s stall

Tower of London – largely tourists standing at rails to photograph the tower and each other; some professionals entering/leaving Tower Hill subway to access tube/train stations; generally benign, but occasionally brusque, interactions between the two as tourists stroll or stop and professionals attempt to hurry; tourists are primarily individuals, couples, or small family groups (no large, guided tours, no students); conversation primarily around the poppies for the WWI display in the Tower moat

Financial District – almost entirely business professionals streaming out of the tube station and toward their offices on the streets opposite; 2 charity canvassers attempt (rather unsuccessfully) to stop and chat with passers-by (myself included, though I too ignore them). Two men stand amidst the crowd handing out newspapers and another distributes fliers, presumably for a special taking place at the restaurant in which he works (he’s wearing a white apron); mostly white, middle class, English-speakers (those who speak at all) traveling alone or in pairs as they seem to have met up with a colleague along the way

St. Paul’s Cathedral – at this time in the morning, St. Paul’s is still rather quiet; business professionals walk by. Similar situation to St. Katherine’s Docks re:professionals and occasional runners; a few more family groups of tourists but again no large groups as it is still early

Fleet Street/Temple – greater number of young people around (whom I assume to be students) and more casually dressed business professionals; shops are beginning to open up, and tourists stand in small huddles on street corners consulting maps

General – Driving traffic is moderate, we are a bit past the morning rush by the time I enter the city; mainly cabs, buses, and personal vehicles but occasional construction trucks pass by; about two dozen cyclists pass along the way (from experience, this number would have been much greater earlier in the morning) and these seem to be young professionals, and predominantly white men (equal parts wearing jeans or cycling gear and suits; all carrying bags)


London from Primrose Hill

(photo cred: Dance For Your Daddy) - http://danceforyourdaddy.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/lets-take-a-cycle-to-primrose-hill-its-windy-there-and-the-views-so-nice/

A mid-run break this afternoon in Regent’s Park.

To Cape Town I Go!

IMG_0625At long last, the Visa Saga is complete!

Following my Swazi border-jump, I re-entered the Republic of South Africa with a week to kill before my London flight. Naturally, an opportunistic trip to Cape Town was in order.

And just as I feared, I fell in love with the city. Hard.

In four and a half days I saw a major slice of Western Cape highlights, but left so much of Cape Town itself grievously unexplored. Can I persuade anyone to accompany me on a future South African jaunt?

Lourenço Marques: A walking tour of Maputo

Maputo, the capital city of Mozambique, grew from a colonial settlement in the 16th century after the arrival of Portuguese explorer Lourenço Marques. The land proved largely inhospitable to Europeans – marshy, muggy, and malarial, yet still of mercantile value. Sea ports seem often to have those qualities.

The city is sometimes called City of Acacias, for the many acacia trees lining its avenues, and sometimes the Pearl of the Indian Ocean.

In present-day Maputo, an eccentric expat named Jane Flood has organised an independent walking tour of the city, which we took on our last morning in town. The history of Mozambique, but especially of Maputo, is a fascinating tangle and one I wish I had known more about prior to visiting.


Under Portuguese rule, the art and architecture of Maputo grew rapidly, mimicking the styles of its European overlords. Evidence of this era remains all throughout the city and continues to influence the modern art community. Community parks and luxury hotels sprang up around town

IMG_6323Famed revolutionary and politician Samora Machel led Mozambique to independence in 1975, when he became the first president of the Républica Popular de Moçambique. Honouring his ties to the Soviet bloc, Machel quickly reclaimed all Maputo’s streets by renaming them after prominent socialist and communist figures. Needless to say, the West was unnerved by this leftist leader in the Cold War era. The politics of Mozambique must wait for another post, however.

Both my stay in Maputo and the tour prompted me to read books set in Mozambique, and for a curious novel about the city’s Red Light district, I refer you to A Treacherous Paradise by Henning Mankel. Not exactly the height of fiction, and not entirely about Mozambique, but a diverting read all the same.

For another perspective, watch this video tour of Maputo featuring Europeans.

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Hopefully my friends never count the number of times I expressed longing for a big city while in slow-town Ho-town. I surely hit double digits quite early on.

Before heading on to Lesotho, I made sure to fit in some city living in one of my favorites: rainy gray London*.

A pub and a pint and a bed for the night.

Solid trip and I’m chuffed.

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*And yes, the rain and gloom is the best part about London. However, the lovely ResPoss crew is a close second.