Two Historic Train Stations, the Portobello Market, Notting Hill and London’s Little Beirut
Finally I had succeeded in getting to London after my one day delay in Salzburg. I had spent about a week in Austria and was scheduled to fly to London during the late evening of May 8, but when I arrived at the airport I was told that my flight had been cancelled and that I was booked on next-day’s flight.
Of course panic set in immediately since I had planned four days in London, and with a departure a day later I would lose an entire day of my already short stay in London. Huge disappointment set in since I had been looking forward to my London visit for a long time. Well, since I had no choice I made the best of the situation, and the customer service agents at the Salzburg Airport were very helpful and assisted me in finding reasonable accommodation. Once my room was booked I wheeled my suitcases out of the airport building, went on a 10-minute bus ride, checked in at my small local inn and quickly passed out cold after a long day.
Yesterday, the sun woke me up and a brilliant warm day was in store. I spent the entire day exploring Salzburg, hiking up on the Kapuzinerberg Mountain that faces the famous Hohensalzburg Fortress. I enjoyed a great outdoor lunch on the tree-shaded patio of the Franziskischlössl, a small fortified castle at the top of the hill that offers a great view of Salzburg’s mountain panorama.
A great view towards the Fortress of Hohensalzburg
In the afternoon I descended back into the city and watched the local street life unfold on the banks of the Salzach River and also admired the beautiful gardens of Mirabell Castle. Finally at 6 pm it was time to head back to the airport to make a second attempt to reach my coveted destination. After observing the airport activities from the rooftop terrace at the Salzburg Airport I watched my British Airways plane land and got ready to board. Finally I was on my way to London.
Nice view from the aircraft
It had been a long time since I had been to England: in fact 27 years have passed since my first and only visit to the British Isles. As a teenager I went on a language exchange program to England to practice my English and stayed with a family for three weeks in the coastal town of Southend. I had only ever spent one day in London, after taking the train into the city to visit the British War Museum. That was now more than a quarter century ago.
My first view of the rooftops of London in the morning
So I was really excited to get to know London, one of the world’s great cities. My good friend Andrea, from my home town in Austria, was going to meet me in London to assist me with her local expert knowledge. Prior to my departure I had already contacted Visit Britain in order to get lots of valuable input for my trip, and with their help I had worked out a detailed itinerary that would expose me to many different facets of London.
After arriving around 10:00 pm at London’s Gatwick Airport I booked a local train ticket to Farringdon Station and used public transit to get to my hotel. Any North American will notice that London has an extensive public transport system which today comprises the London Underground (the subway), London Rail and various forms of surface transport including buses and passenger boat service on the River Thames. Regardless of which city I travel to, I always enjoy using the public transit systems since this gets you a step closer to the daily life of the local residents.
The Zetter Hotel: my chic abode in London
Finally after 11 pm I had arrived in Clerkenwell, an area in Central London that got its name from the Clerk’s Well in Farringdon Lane. Although it was close to midnight when I exited the train station I entered into a local entertainment area that was full of young stylish people laughing and socializing on various restaurant patios. Street life was absolutely hopping. Even at this late time of the day I felt completely safe walking through the streets of this neighbourhood, and just about ten minutes after my arrival by train I arrived at my abode for the next three nights: the Zetter Hotel.
Breakast downstairs at the Zetter Hotel
The Zetter Hotel is a boutique hotel in the heart of Clerkenwell that offers 59 unique decorated bedrooms. My stylish rooftop studio was located on the top floor and came with a terrace that provided me with an enchanting view of the lights of London. I could even see London’s giant ferris wheel, the London Eye, in the distance. The many interesting buildings of London’s financial district were all lit up, testimony to London’s role as a global financial centre.
My room at the Zetter Hotel
My travel partner Andrea had arrived a few hours earlier and had already attended the famous Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London, a historic ritual dating back to the 14th century that I unfortunately missed due to my late arrival. While Andrea was still excited about her interesting evening, I started to settle down in my stylish hotel room and began to relax after a very long day.
A scrumptious breakfast at the Zetter Hotel