The Old Fogies go Cruising to Southern Norway

In an age of instant holiday photographs of wild and wonderful places, it is worth reminding people that travelling is not always instant gratification and issues can happen. Whilst we have travelled extensively for over 20 years with relatively few problems, this year has been a challenge for a number of reasons. Although the year started off well with a round Britain cruise, things went downhill from there. First of all our Baltic cruise was cancelled at the last minute due to the ship having problems, then there was a mix up at the hotel when we took our granddaughters to Windsor and the worst blow was when we had to cancel our trip to China because I had developed a severe ear infection.

Against this less than favourable background we decided to take a late short cruise to Southern Norway, what could go wrong !!!

This short six day cruise was our chance to finish off our travels on the Norwegian coast, last year we had visited the more northern cities on the Norwegian coast and into Russia. Cruising is a great way to visit Norway because many of the cities are on the coast and it represents more value for money than taking the more expensive options like flying. Norway is one of the most expensive places to visit, probably in the world and it is not just transport and accommodation but the high cost of food and drink.

We knew the weather would be quite cold but was not too concerned as long as it was not raining. It could not be much worse weather than in the UK just before the cruise which suffered from floods and high winds.

Looking forward to the cruise, we began to make plans for what we would do in Norway when a text from the cruise company bought us back to earth. It said that the cruise ship was stuck in Antwerp and we would not be able to sail until six hours later than planned. Beginning to think we had somehow offended the travel gods and were cursed, we looked at each other and smiled, “well at least it is not cancelled,” said Mrs Nice.

With some trepidation we made our way to Tilbury and went to a rather crowded cruise terminal, as we made our way to the various sections we found ourselves in a queue and within 30 minutes we were free from the crowded terminal, on the boat and enjoying a drink and something to eat. Ah, perhaps our luck was changing we thought as we settled down to for the cruise up the North Sea to our first port of call that was to have been Oslo but had now been changed to Stavanger. We were quite happy with this change because we would have more time in the Norwegian capital.

The first day of the cruise was at sea and was an opportunity to relax, have a look around the ship and watch the world go by. The North Sea is one of the busiest stretches of water in the world, so there were no shortages of ships to see. The North Sea is also well known for the large wind turbines that great a rather surreal sight as they whirr around, out in the distance you can see oil platforms which are an important part of Norway’s prosperity.

At the end of a relaxing and uneventful day, we made our way to bed, just as we were ready to settle down it was noticeable the ship was rocking a bit more and the captain made the announcement of the possibility of rough seas ahead with the chance of Force 8 gales. I must mention here that we have sailed in relatively rough seas before and both of us do not suffer from seasickness or associated problems. Another factor was that we had an inside cabin which means you are not exposed to the crashes of the water on the side of the ship.

Despite these reassuring factors, the ship began to rock and roll more and more, lying on our beds we tried to get to sleep but were often awakened by a loud crash. This was an indication that this was a particularly bad storm and although we drifted in and out of sleep, we both suffered a disturbed night. As is often the case after a storm, the following morning was bright and sunny and the ship was serenely making its way to the Norwegian coast. As we ate our breakfast, we noticed many of our fellow passengers were sleepy eyed and tired due to lack of sleep. The main topic of conversation was the storm and even the more seasoned cruise travellers has said it was one of the worst they had experienced. The captain confirmed the serious nature of the storm by indicating it reached a level of Force 10 with 25 feet waves.

With some relief we made our way to the Norwegian port of Stavanger and were happy to get our feet on terra firma and enjoy the delights of this small Norwegian city.

Stavanger is one of the large cities and has an interesting history as a trading and military centre in the 9th and 10th centuries and Stavanger grew into an important centre of church administration with the construction of Stavanger Cathedral which was finished around 1125. Over the centuries, Stavanger was known for its herring fisheries, shipping, shipbuilding and fish canning industry. In the late 1960s, oil was first discovered in the North Sea and Stavanger became the centre for the oil industry on the Norwegian sector of the North Sea.

The ship docked in the main harbour near to a large number of 18th- and 19th-century wooden houses, From the city centre, there are a series of bridges that take traffic onto the various islands and beyond.

Like many Norwegian cities, Stavander is located in wonderful scenery, at the end of the harbour is a plaza on the hill is Stavanger cathedral which dominates the skyline. This is also common in Norway that the city or town was built up around the church or cathedral.

Stavanger is one of Norway’s oldest cities but is an interesting mixture of old and new with brightly coloured wooden buildings and new buildings like the Norwegian Petroleum Museum. A very unusual sight in the harbour was a Dutch patrol vessel and submarine.

Stavanger is a popular tourist destination, especially in summer with plenty of parks and green spaces in the city and beyond. Stavanger is a popular base for tours to Lysefjorden and the Preikestolen (the Pulpit Rock) which is a massive rock overhanging the fjord.

After an enjoyable visit to Stavanger, we carried on around the Norwegian south coast to the city of Kristiansand which is the fifth largest city in Norway. Unlike many Norwegian cities, Kristiansand attracts a large number of tourists throughout the year and especially in the summer season.

Christian IV who created a number of towns, formally gave the town the title of Christianssand in 1641, strangely the town was laid out in Renaissance style on a grid plan and it offers an unusual experience because modern Kristiansand is compact but quite diverse city with a number of attractions. Some of the highlights are Kristiansand Cathedral, shops, restaurants and bars in the city centre, the woods of Baneheia, Posebyen is the old part of the town and has a large collection of wooden buildings.

The riverside area along the River Otra has plenty of boats in the river and Bystranda which is known as the city beach. Along the beach front is the Christiansholm Fortress and finally the attractive Fish Market or Fiskebrygga.

The last destination on our short Norwegin cruise was Oslo which is Oslo which is the capital and most populous city in Norway. We had visited Oslo about 15 years ago for a few days and were interested in how the city had changed.

Highlights of Oslo include the distinctive Norwegian Opera and Ballet House, Vigeland Park which has a remarkable large collection of sculptures by Gustav Vigeland. Bygdøy which is a green peninsula which is the location of a number of interesting museums like the Fram Museum, Viking Ship Museum and the Kon-Tiki Museum.

Major landmarks include the Royal Palace, Storting building (the Parliament) , the University, National Theatre, Stock Exchange and the Nobel Centre.

Oslo is one of the most attractive cities in Europe being at the northern end of the Oslofjord and surrounded by green hills and mountains. There are 40 islands within the city limits and numerous lakes.

After three enjoyable days exploring the delights of Southern Norway, it was time to make the long journey down the North Sea to the United Kingdom. Thankfully this was without incident with mostly clear skies and calm seas.

When we arrived home, we both agreed it had been an interesting and enjoyable cruise but we were looking forward to a more trouble free 2020 as regards to travelling. Issues when travelling is part and parcel of the experience and part of the learning process but it is very unusual to have a series of issues one after another. Nevertheless, the Old Fogies move onwards and look forward to further adventures in 2020.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here

The Old Fogies go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York

The Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York City, otherwise known as “the Met” is the largest art museum in the United States. The main building which is on the eastern edge of Central Park attracts over 7 million visitors a year and was founded in 1870 and opened in 1872 for the purposes of opening a museum to bring art and art education to the American people. Since the museum opened it has been renovated many times and is 20 times bigger than the original building.

When you enter ‘the Met’ into the Great Hall, it is similar to the British Museum with an extensive collection of works from classical antiquity and ancient Egypt near the entrance.

With limited time available, we knew we could not see everything, so decided to follow the floor plan and see how far we could see.

Our first section was Egyptian Art and the museum’s extensive collection is full of mummies and artefacts, however the most impressive exhibit is The Temple of Dendur which was transported from the shores of the Nile in Egypt in the 1960s.

The American Wing features a number of highly decorated rooms from all over the United States and the rather strange Sara Berman’s Closet.

Medieval Art provides an extensive look at medieval art including stunning stain glass windows.

Arms and Armour provide a piece of Hollywood with flags flying but the armour is spectacular.

Modern and Contemporary Art features a wide range including Manet, Monet and ; a roomful of van Goghs.On the Second floor European Paintings 1250 -1800 include Velazquez, El Greco, Vermeer and around twenty Rembrandts.

There are also a wide range of Musical Instruments.

The Met has a number of cafes and restaurants (we had a break in the lovely courtyard) gift shops and bookstores. You really needed more time than we had to get the best out of a visit to the ‘Met’ but even in our short visit we enjoyed some of the delights of the museum. The only issue is the $25 for admission, for over a century, the museum had free admission and still does not really charge New Yorkers. Using overseas visitors to subsidise local use is not that rare in some museums but is fundamentally penalising people who travelled thousands of miles to visit your city. 

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here.

The Old Fogies visit the Museum of Modern Art in New York City

One art museum, I was keen to visit in New York was The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) which located in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, on 53rd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.

MoMA is considered one of the largest and most influential museums of modern art in the world. The Museum’s origins go back to 1929 and were one of the first American museum’s devoted exclusively to modern art. Its early exhibitions included paintings by Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne, and Seurat.

The museum moved into its present location in 1939, although it has been renovated a number of times since and is undergoing a $450 million expansion. The entrance is not particularly striking but once you enter, the galleries are bright and airy.

One of the highlights of the museum is The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh and it was easy to find with groups of people near it.

Other highlights include Claude Monet’s Water Lilies triptych

Pablo Picasso, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

 and Henri Matisse, The Dance.

American artists were represented by Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg, Mark Rothko and many more.

The museum has a number of unusual features like a large Louise Bourgeois spider, a full size helicopter and a very attractive Sculpture Garden with fountains that was an ideal place to relax after looking around the galleries.

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is one of the great museums of modern art, however it is difficult to defend an admission fee of $25. Maybe we are spoilt in London where many of the major museums and art galleries are free but even those that do charge tend to ask for half the amount that MoMA ask for. The museum has around 3 million visitors a year but numbers have declined since they doubled the entrance fee from $12 to $25. 

Fortunately the New York Pass which we bought before arriving in the city included entrance to a number of museums which is great if you want to get a cultural fix when you are in New York.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here.

 

The Old Fogies go to Sydney City Centre

In many cities, the city centre would be the first point of call for visitors, however in Sydney this is not the case with many of the attractions on the waterfront. This does not mean that Sydney city centre or Sydney central business district (Sydney CBD) as it is known is not without interest.

Sydney is the state capital of New South Wales and the most populous city in Australia and the city centre is where you will find of the city’s most significant buildings.

Walking in the Sydney CBD, you become aware that it is Australia’s main financial and economic centre with many international banks and businesses located here. It is also full of shops, bars, restaurants and cafes. Standing tall above the city is the Sydney Tower.

The main streets are George Street and Pitt Street with Macquarie Street, part of an historic area that houses such buildings as the State Parliament House and the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Sydney’s CBD features a mix of old and new architecture; two of the most grandest Victorian buildings are the Queen Victoria Building and the Sydney Town Hall. The Queen Victoria Building or QVB as it known is a shopping gallery with over 190 shops, it is considered one of the most beautiful shopping galleries in the world and it certainly does have an appeal all of its own. The Town Hall is a popular meeting place and is rather grand in a very English sort of a way.

Much of the greenery in the city centre is in Hyde Park which has a number of interesting features, dominating the park is the stunning Anzac Memorial which commemorates those Australians killed serving their country. At nearly 100 feet high, the inside of the memorial is reached up a number of stairs leading into a small exhibition.

Other features in Hyde Park are the Sandringham Gardens and Archibald Fountain and across the road is the impressive St Mary’s Cathedral.

The Australian Museum is nearby and if you carry on you can go to Paddy’s Markets where the local population go for a rather different shopping experience.

With such iconic sights on the waterfront, it may be if you are on a relatively short stay that you decide to ignore the city centre but that may be a mistake. Sydney’s CBD gives a glimpse of the past and a taste of its bustling commercial present with a number of attractions to keep you interested.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here.

The Old Fogies go to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge

Unlike Sydney Harbour Bridge which is in the middle of the city, San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge is around four miles from Fisherman’s Wharf in the centre of San Francisco. Therefore riding a bicycle down and across the bridge is very popular with a number of cycle hire places doing a brisk business.

We decided to take a walk down to the bridge and enjoy views from a number of vantage points. The bridge has a fascinating history and has become one of the most famous bridges in the United States.

The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge which spans the Golden Gate, the one-mile-wide (1.6 km) strait that connects San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Before the bridge the only way across the strait was by ferry. Earlier plans for a bridge across the strait were dismissed due to the costs, deep water and extreme weather conditions.

However, money was raised and construction began 1933 and was completed in 1937. The bridge cost around $35 million and great celebrations took place when it finally opened to the public, on the day before vehicle traffic was allowed, it was estimated that 200,000 people crossed the bridge on foot.  

Remarkably, despite quite extreme weather condition at times, since its completion, the Golden Gate Bridge has been closed because of weather conditions only three times in 1951, 1982 and 1983.

At the time of its opening in 1937, it was both the longest and the tallest suspension bridge in the world, with a main span of 4,200 feet (1,280 m) and a total height of 746 feet (227 m) and although other bridges have now surpassed the Golden Gate Bridge it remains one of the most beautiful bridges in the world.

Part of its appeal is the way that the bridge complements the natural surroundings and blends into environment. Although the bridge looks red, the colour of the bridge is officially an orange vermilion.

The bridge can be admired from afar but for a closer look it is worth entering the fascinating Fort Point National Historical site which is located underneath the bridge. Rangers point out some of the interesting facts about this Civil War fortification before you climb to the top of the structure to get great views of the bridge, the harbour and the Pacific Ocean.

Although the bridge is primarily for vehicle traffic, it is also popular with pedestrians and bicyclists who arrive in their thousands especially at the weekend. Unfortunately the bridge holds another record, the Golden Gate Bridge is the second-most used suicide bridge in the world, and an estimated 1,500 people have fallen to their deaths from the structure.  

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here.

The Old Fogies go to the Sydney Harbour Bridge

To anyone arriving in Sydney, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House are fascinating iconic sights which dominate the harbour.

The bridge is nicknamed “The Coathanger” by locals and is in some ways similar to Tyne Bridge in Newcastle. This is not surprising because they were both built by the British firm Dorman Long and Co Ltd, of Middlesbrough.

Soon after we arrived in Sydney, we thought it would be interesting to take a closer look at the bridge and on a clear bright morning we made our way up to the Rocks area to find a way up to the bridge. Although there is a number of signposts, the stairs up to the bridge near Cumberland Street are tucked away behind some buildings.

When you reach the same level as the road, you get some idea of the enormous scale of the bridge. The arch has a span of 504 m (1,654 ft) and its summit is 134 m (440 ft) above sea level. The total weight of the steelwork of the bridge, including the arch and approach spans, is 52,800 tonnes. About 75% of the steel was imported from England, however the bridge is held together by six million Australian-made hand-driven rivets made in Melbourne.

It is only when you reach the bridge that you realise it is actually quite wide carrying trains, cars, bicycle, and pedestrians between the Sydney central business district (CBD) and the North Shore.

Although this stretch between the North and South shore is a natural place to build a bridge, it was not until 1932 that the bridge was finally opened. Previous to this date, plans to build a bridge across the harbour were put on hold due to lack of funds or the technical difficulties involved. The undertaking of building the bridge in the depths of the Depression provided some badly needed employment to thousands of people and is another reason why Australians are so proud and grateful for the bridge.

Walking across the bridge is often quite blustery and the side fences which have been added to prevent people from committing suicide by jumping from the bridge mean that the wonderful views of the Opera House are achieved by peering through the fence.

Whilst on the bridge, you can occasionally spot groups of climbers which ascends to the top of the bridge, each climb takes three-and-a-half-hours including the preparations. The four pylons on the bridge have no functional role but are used for various things including a museum and tourist centre.

Needless to say we were happy to wander across under our own steam rather than join the Bridge Climb, until we decided it was time to return. On the way back, we made the slight detour to the southern end of the bridge which is located at Dawes Point in The Rocks area. Here is a great view from under the bridge and you can see the rather bizarre large painted face that is the entrance to the Luna Park amusement park at Milsons Point on the North Shore.

Bridges are not only useful but often serve a symbolic purpose, this is certainly the case with the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The Harbour Bridge is an integral part of the Sydney New Year’s Eve celebrations each year and is generally used for other major celebrations such as the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here.

 

The Old Fogies go to San Francisco – Part Two

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Before we started our trip, we had booked a whale watching trip around San Francisco Bay, we had always thought of trying one of these tours and the San Francisco tour was very reasonably priced. As we boarded the small vessel, our expectations were not that high but thought it would a nice trip out into the bay. The heavy mist and fog in the bay shrouded the city and the Golden Gate Bridge creating an eerie atmosphere as we made our way out into the bay.

Almost immediately, a shout went out and everyone rushed forward and peered into the distance and remarkably there was a humpback whale breaking the surface. What followed was almost three hours of sightings of humpbacks all across the bay.

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The Whale expert on board provided a commentary as the whales surfaced and dived, the boat was careful to keep a reasonable distance from the whales but nobody told the whales as one surfaced around twenty feet from the boat which shocked everyone and especially me who nearly dropped my camera, so I did not get that close up view. Thankfully our expert did get that shot which we publish below.

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Photo Whalegirl.org

Every now and again when you are travelling, you have that magical day that will stay with you for the rest of your life, our Whale Watching was one such day.

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The following day we followed a more traditional tourist path by visiting one of San Francisco’s main attractions, the island of Alcatraz. The tours leave Pier 33 and it advisable to arrive early as the queues begin to form to board the ferry. We had booked through the official Alcatraz Cruises website, if you thinking about going to Alcatraz be wary of tours that charge a large amount to go to Alcatraz and maybe a cruise around the harbour.

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For some reason, swarms of flies descended on the ferry as we boarded and were unwelcome travellers all the way across to the Island. Alcatraz became a military prison in 1907 and a maximum security penitentiary in 1934 and became part of American mythology because of the many films that have been made about the prison. When you arrive on the Island, you are shown to cell houses where you pick up the excellent audio tour which gives some background to the tour. Strangely, considering its reputation it was not the worst location in the world with the sights and sounds of San Francisco all around.

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That said, Block D where the most rebellious prisoners were sent is pretty grim and some of the stories from ex-prisoners suggest a violent environment at times. Outside of the prison is a variety of buildings, some that date back to when it was a military base in the 19th century.

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Another of the main attractions of San Francisco is the cable cars that trundle up the steepest hills. They maybe a relic of a bygone age, but they are very popular with long queues at certain junctions. There are three ways to travel in the cars, sitting inside, sitting outside on benches and for the brave, standing on the running board.

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Fares are quite expensive at $7, therefore if you want value for money do not use for short journeys but travel the entire route. When you do this you will see the cable car in all its glory, in some sections it is like a roller coaster moving up and down the hills. It is a major operation controlling the cable cars with a grip man and a conductor, it is entertaining watching the various manoeuvres and the way they turn the cars around at the turntables.

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On our final day in San Francisco, we thought we would travel on the bus to Golden Gate Park which is really not that close to the bridge but is one of the largest parks in the city. The bus ride took us through the former hippie enclave of Haight Ashbury which was a focal point of the Summer of Love in the 1960s. A few shops try to trade on its bohemian past and a few locals and visitors try to recreate the time by dressing up in their hippie gear.

When we arrived at the park, we thought we had been transported back into the sixties, with the smell of drugs and someone playing their bongo drums to a small stoned audience. This area of the park is called Hippie Hill and tends to attract an alternative crowd.

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This area is in complete contrast with the other parts of the park which is the location of the de Young Museum, a Shakespeare Garden, Botanical Gardens, a Dutch Windmill and a Japanese Tea Garden.

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When it was time to leave San Francisco, we thought we had only scratched the surface of an attractive and fascinating city. On the whole, the locals were very friendly but like many cities, San Francisco has a problem with the homeless and beggars especially around the Union Square area. Whilst some were quite inventive by having signs that read ‘ Money wanted for Weed, Why lie About It.’ Others had some severe mental health problems and needed attention that they clearly were not receiving.

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Another issue for travellers is the public transport system that is a mixture of mainly BART trains, buses, street cars and cable cars. The complex system is not easy to navigate and makes getting around the city quite difficult. Taxis are generally available and are sometimes the better option for short distances.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here.

The Old Fogies go to London Zoo

Although Zoos are not normally our favourite places to go, our youngest grandchild wanted to go to the new attraction called Zoorassic Park. So, with grandchild in tow, off Mr Curmudgeon and I went to see this new experience.

Getting to London Zoo is not the easiest in the world, but walking from Camden Town Tube it is not too bad. On the way, our grandchild constantly sang about going to the Zoo, and the passing people all had a little chuckle to themselves, Mr Curmudgeon raised his eyebrows and his blue eyes twinkled as we all walked towards the zoo.

The admission to the zoo is quite expensive, but as Old Fogies we did get a discount, so once inside the zoo we immediately went to the new attraction. Well what a surprise, not an animal in sight, but a lot of automated dinosaurs. Strolling through the attraction was a real joy, for all of us, and after being transplanted back to the land of the dinosaurs you are then transported into the future, and you are confronted with the bones of animals that are alive now but in 2050 are extinct. This was very well done, and little one got to brush the sand away from some bones, although I am not sure she understood the meaning of it all.

Both Mr Curmudgeon and I are ambivalent about keeping large animals in confined spaces, but it is always wonderful (emotionally) to see such wonderful creatures as Tigers and Lions. Tigers are my absolute favourite cat, and all three of us got some wonderful views and photos of these splendid animals.

Seeing the zoo through our grandchild’s eyes made visiting the zoo a valuable experience, in the aquarium she was fascinated by the different types and sizes of fish, especially the brightly coloured ones, and she obviously associated the clown fish with Finding Nemo.

Andy from the CBeebies TV Show was at the Zoo, and he entertained all the little ones, parents and grandparents with his antics with dinosaurs (these were large puppets with people inside, but the children obviously felt they were real), it was a wonderful half hour of fun entertainment.

Having had some lunch, which was fair value, and a quick ride on the carousel, Mr Curmudgeon, begrudgingly gave us a £5 so I could go on with the grandchild, we went through the tunnel into Africa.

Here are larger animals, I do wonder if this is necessary in today’s world, but the grandchild enjoyed the Giraffes, the Zebras and the lonely pygmy hippo.

Although I did like some elements of the Zoo and I do feel they are trying to give animals a better environment, there is still a lot of work to do, and I would question the need to keep very large animals in such small (in comparison of what they would have in the wild) enclosures. However despite these misgivings, we did have an unusual and enjoyable day.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here.

The Old Fogies go to Canary Wharf

You don’t want to go to Canary Wharf we are told, it is a concrete jungle, but Old Fogies think they must try everything, so off we trotted.

Having exited Canary Wharf Underground Station, we were presented with Reuters Square, and the concrete jungle was there in front of us, well maybe everyone was right. Undaunted Mr Curmudgeon said look some greenery, so turning left and going through a small opening in the hedge we stumble upon a spectacular water garden, a series of raised water beds each with its own small fountain meander along a lovely green space. The first raised bed even has some fish we counted 5 plus one goldfish. There is a large golden ornament, perhaps a flower, stretching over 10 feet in height is also there.

Having wandered through the garden, we exit at the back of the station, and see a long glass building about 100 yards to our left.

Wandering towards the building, on the left is another green space, with restaurants and places to sit. The long glass building turned out to be part of the new Crossrail line, but people are invited to visit the roof garden.

The roof garden, is partially open air, and is another wonderful green space for people to relax in. I expect if you are working in this environment you would want some green space.

Leaving the roof garden, we wandered into the shopping mall, Mr Curmudgeon as usual wants to hurry through the shopping mall, but I did note that there was a Waitrose with a small John Lewis above it, and a series of the usual High Street stores, albeit small ones.

Exiting the shopping mall at Cabot Place, you cross the road and wander into another Square, this one has an impressive fountain, and water features around the sides. There are truly an awful lot of public art around the estate, in the fountain square there is an impressive couple sitting down.

Wandering through towards West India Quay, over the bridge there are a whole row of eateries ranging from traditional Browns to Rum & Sugar. Whilst residing in one of the old warehouses is the Museum of Docklands, this is part of the Museum of London and shows the rise and fall of the Docks in the surrounding area.

Finally, we head towards the river to take the Thames clipper back to central London, again the road is lined with large buildings but at the end there is a small garden square. Mr Curmudgeon did not believe that the grass was real, but it was, and like the rest of the Canary Wharf estate is extremely well maintained.

Crossing the road, there is a splendid view of the City standing proud in the distance, is that another concrete jungle?

Yes, Canary Wharf does have many large buildings, and a lot of concrete however, it is interspersed with a variety of open spaces that are a pleasure to visit. Next time I will come without Mr Curmudgeon so I can spend a little more time browsing the shops and having a lovely drink on the water’s edge.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here.

The Old Fogies look for a good view of St Paul’s and visit the Museum of London

Last Sunday the Old Fogies decided to take a stroll around the St Paul’s area of London, taking in the magnificent building of St Paul’s but also looking for the unusual and quirky aspects of London. We started early, always best as you beat the main tourist times which always result in a better experience.

Arriving at London Bridge Underground station, we walked along the river to the Millennium Bridge, there before us was St Paul’s Cathedral, the view across the bridge towards St Paul’s is one of the better views, although the view from Ludgate Hill is probably the best at ground level.

Walking through the grounds of St Paul’s we decided to visit the Museum of London. The Museum of London is quite well hidden, but by following the signs around St Paul’s you do eventually reach it. The entrance is not really inviting but we ventured forth into the museum to see what the museum has to offer.

You are guided through the museum by dates, starting at the prehistoric remnants of London moving through the Roman period reaching the great Fire and Plague sections. Here you will also can find the London Stone. The Stone has many myths surrounding it and it is claimed to be the oldest stone in the City. It is taking a holiday at the Museum while its home in Cannon Street is undergoing building works. If you are looking for old stones, look out of the window to see one of the few remaining sections of the old London Wall.

Moving downstairs into the Victorian section, the streets of Victorian London are on display with bars, grocers etc, but one of the highlights for us was the recreation of the 18th Century Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, this is the most interactive bit of the museum where you can step inside the Pleasure Gardens and with the aid of a film, feel the atmosphere of Georgian London.

Other notable exhibits are the remarkable 1928 Selfridges department store decorative lift doors, these are stunning, as well as the 1908 London Taxi beside it. The Lord Mayors coach is also a highlight of the museum if it is on display.

Having felt we had done enough, we decided to ride the elevator up to the 6th floor of the nearby Number One Change shopping centre. We are not here for the shopping but an unexpected treat, having bemoaned the lack of a beautiful view of St Paul’s, the elevator ride gives a wonderful framed view, but this was surpassed by the view from the 6th floor terrace. Here is London spread at your feet, and it is free as well. St Paul’s stands front and centre and that elusive photograph can be taken.

Descending to the ground floor, we decided to take a Number 17 bus back to London Bridge station and another treat, never having rode on the top deck of a London Bus over London Bridge it was a complete surprise to enjoy, an unusual view of the Thames, Tower Bridge and beyond.

We sat quite smugly, because being London Old Fogies, we have our bus passes and the ride did not cost us a penny.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here.