Winter Tour

Hi everybody, this is the Tony Giles Experience Winter Tour. Tony is on tour again; travelling the globe and anywhere else that is worth a visit. The travel gig began in mid September with a couple of days in London. I stayed in a HI hostel called Holland park near Kensington High-street.

The hostel is an interesting affair, priced at £15.70 a night, dorm bed per member. It is situated in the middle of a large park. It is only minutes walking from either Holland Park or Kensington High Street tube stations. However, it is not the easiest to locate. It his hidden inside the park and on dark nights or in rainy conditions as when I was trying to find it, then the job can be difficult. If getting off at Holland Park tube stop, exit the station, cross the road and turn left walk along the side of the park until you find an opening. Go up a rough path that inclines. This is named Holland Walk. Once at the top of the hill, look for a gate on the right. Enter into the park and follow the small narrow paths. This will eventually take you to the hostel. If you have time and the weather is nice then the walk is relaxing and peaceful. If taking the tube to Kensington High Street, then again exit the station and cross the road. Once across using the lights, turn left and follow the road until you come across an opening with a gate on your right. This is the park entrance. Follow the wide path up hill, looking for the signs to the hostel. It will eventually appear on your left. There is another gate and a driveway which eventually bends round to the right. there are several stairs up to the hostel entrance. Breakfast is included in the price. It is not the easiest hostel to find and the beds in the dorm rooms are awkward. The dorm I stayed in had beds in sets of three with the middle bunk perpendicular to the bottom and top bunks. There were no ladders that I could see which made getting in and out of bed fun!! This is hostelling, a challenge and all part of the experience. I booked two nights but only spent one night there in the end as I stayed with a friend the first night.

London, it is a fantastic city for anyone who has never had the opportunity to visit. The transportation networks are fantastic – even during rush hour which is an experience not to be relished. The underground ‘tube’ system takes you all over London and you can get to places in minutes. Every station seems to bring you out near a famous place or attraction. The multinational population adds to the flavour of the great city’s attractiveness – not to mention the plethora of museums, all free entry, the gardens, statues and sites of historical note – and I must not forget to mention the palace and guided tours.

I spent two delightful days in the English capital on this visit, meeting up with friends and exploring some of the less expensive sights. Each evening was spent in a pub somewhere drinking lemonades and catching up on old times. My one day of note was spent wandering. I began my day by taking the tube to Leicester Square and finding a cafe for breakfast. I had an egg and sausage sandwich and several cups of tea before setting off on a gambit around the cobbled area. Leicester Square seemed busy enough with the morning commuters and shoppers. I strolled along sweeping with my cane, trying to avoid outdoor cafe furniture and advertisement signs plus the iron pillars set in the middle of the square to stop traffic from driving down the pedestrian area. At one point I found a kind of park lined with large plant pot structures. There were pathways which cut through a section of grass. In the middle of this area you could almost get away from the noise of the city, but not completely. After an hour or so there I walked to Trafalgar Square and listened to the two large water fountains, sticking my cane in one and getting splashed by the cool spray. The weather was windy with a weak sun which fluctuated between warmth and coolness. I wandered towards Nelson’s Column and tried to touch the four lion statues guarding the column. This monument is in place in recognition of Lord Admiral Nelson’s achievements at the battle of Trafalgar during the Napoleonic wars 1795-1815. The battle of Trafalgar occurred in 1805 off Spain with the British naval fleet led by Nelson engaging with French and Spanish ships. Nelson was fatally wounded during the long battle but rumour has it that he did not die until he new victory was assured.

You can climb up onto the monument to touch the lions but the column itself is out of reach. I tried to climb up to feel the lions, but after nearly falling off twice! I gave up and just traced the body of the large cats with my cane. They are magnificent. Later, I took another tube to a stop called Elephant and Castle where I went for a look round but found nothing of interest before heading to St. Paul’s Cathedral. Unfortunately, when I entered the enormous cathedral and asked about a self-guided tour, I discovered not only that it cost nearly £10 to enter, but also that the audio guide handset had no way of allowing you to follow the numbered exhibits. You had a card with corresponding exhibit numbers on, which you had to enter into the hand held device once you were at the item of interest. However, this was in no order which meant a blind person would struggle to find the exhibit of interest and not be able to know what number to insert. I got my money back and after a brief wander around the outer area of the vast building, I attempted to find the exit. I managed to leave the monstrosity with help and made my way back to the tube. Later that evening, I met up with yet another friend in Kensington and we had a delightful evening in a pub near the tube station. We had a meal which only cost £17 for the two of us. I met a lovely barmaid from Demark who had silky smoove skin and a good humorous personality. She laughed when I said she had beautiful eyes!!! So the Winter tour has begun and it has been a successful start. Next stop, Berlin, Germany.

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  1. Your report on Venice Beach is terrible and vicious. Have you been there lately? When did you actually go to Monkey Bay?
    I just spent a few weeks on venice beach backpackers in Monkey bay, and had the best time ever. I was not there for their buildings etc, but the vibe and the friendly atmosphere and the local village made me feel good and real.
    I find most of your opinions about so many places are very objective. You must have been one of those one-day tourist passing thru africa!