Think you have done it all in London? The museums, the London Eye, the changing of the guard, the Thames, the list goes on. Here is a great way to spend a day, for almost no money. Rent a Barclay's bike and head for the Regents Canal. This is exactly what we did and it was a fantastic way to enjoy London away from the traffic and the museums.
You'll discover a whole different culture and way of life when you bike along the canal. There are hundreds of narrow small barges that people live on or work the canal on. We saw all walks of life that appeared to be barge owners, from the very wealthy to those who reminded us of the people in Veitnam who lived on their boats with no heat or running water.
The path is fairly narrow, so you have to be alert or you could get wet, which would definitely spoil an otherwise good day. Also you need to remember that pedestrians have the right of way, so just be polite, use your little bell, and don't go too fast! We didn't have any trouble, and we enjoyed all of the scenery and the side trips that are available from the canal path.
On day one we started from Angel, and followed the path toward the London Docklands. It was warm and scenic, and gave us a great taste of barge life on the canal. We wandered around the (free) docklands museum, hoping to learn a bit more about the canals, but were disappointed. The docklands museum is actually a very interesting history of London, so that was not disappointing, just that the museum didn't have anything to say about the canal.
On day two we went the other way, and ended up having lunch in the rather bohemian Camden Market area. We also took a side trip around the zoo and the royal gardens to see some incredible villas that have been built right along the canal.
I love London. It is probably my favorite big city in the world. I think I have visited at least six times. So I have done the museums and most of the good tourist attractions. My top five would be:
- The Transportation Museum in Covent Garden
- The science museum in Kensington
- The Imperial War Museum
- Our visit to Parliament
- Westminster Abbey
This was a really great alternative way to spend the better part of two days enjoying London culture from the perspective of a cyclist.
As a bonus part of this post, I do have to admit that I had never done the London Eye until this visit. It was definitely a fun way to get a view of the city. Jane and I both did a little bit of experimenting with time lapse videos on our iPhones. I wish I had brought my tripod so I could have captured the entire circle.