Cunard Line | MS Queen Victoria Ship Tour

Being my secret favorite of the three Queens, it was a long-awaited short trip to Southampton for private pleasure as well as a chance to check out the newest refurbishment that had just taken place in 2017. Continue reading

Kirkwall | A Scottish Taste of the Orkneys

Have you ever heard of the Orkney Islands? Sounds a bit intimidating at first once those ugly and frightening mythical creatures “Orcs” come to one´s mind that have sprung from the “Lord of the Rings” blockbuster saga. But luckily, this Scottish archipelago has nothing to do with murderous creatures. It rather is a well-kept secret in natural beauty and seclusion. A “Garden of Eden” at the Northern end of the British main isle. Continue reading

Fantastic Waterways – New York City

There is no such thing as a mid-day arrival after a Transatlantic passage into the harbor of New York City and therefore a bucket list item for everyone! I remember how disappointed we were upon check-in in Southampton, that our scheduled overnight stay on the Bermudas had to be cancelled due to heavy storms over the Atlantic Ocean. And that the ship had to evade towards Madeira instead. But what was a tremendous frustration at first sight, turned out to be a marvelous day-time experience that most cruisers do not get to see when crossing the Atlantic. Continue reading

P&O Cruises | MV Aurora Ship Tour

With an overall length of 270 meters, MV Aurora is the sixth largest cruise vessel within the British P&O Cruises fleet. She entered service in 2000 and was the first ship to receive the updated company livery with the waving Union flag design on her bow in 2014 while receiving a major refurbishment. I recently had the opportunity to visit the ship in Hamburg and fell in love right from the moment I laid foot on her teak decks. Continue reading

Queen Mary 2 | Channel Crossing done Majestically

First of all, I would like to apologize that it has been quite quiet here on HideousJourneys lately. But believe it or not, a traveler like me needs some vacation time as well. Back home, I am ready to share some of my latest travel adventures with you. And they all have to do with cruising again, finally. But before we are setting sail for the Caribbean, let me give you insight in one of my favorite mini cruises there is: The crossing from Hamburg to Southampton (or vice versa) on a Cunard Queen. Continue reading

BMI Regional ERJ145 Economy Class | Southampton – Munich

Like mentioned in a blog post from early 2016, Lufthansa had introduced services from Southampton to its hub Munich in March 2016 operated by its codeshare partner BMI Regional. Having just recently completed a channel crossing from Hamburg with the mighty Queen Mary 2, it was just the perfect occasion to try this air link by myself, turning out to be a comfortable and time-saving alternative to the permanently overcrowded London Heathrow airport. Continue reading

Hong Kong | High Tea at the Ritz-Carlton

It is a costly thing to do, but looking down from the 102nd floor onto the one-of-a-kind Victoria Harbor with the mighty skyline of Hong Kong spreading to your feet while enjoying fine pâtisserie and a glass of Ruinart Blanc de Blancs champagne makes you feel like you are king of the world. Continue reading

Cunard Line | Queen Mary 2 Ship Tour

She is one of the most iconic passenger ships of modern times and the last true ocean liner sailing the classic transatlantic passage from Southampton to New York and back. I have sailed the one and only RMS Queen Mary 2 a few times already and even though they say “some things cannot get better”, I found out during my latest visit to the queen in the port of Hamburg that they surely can. Having been remastered just a few months ago, QM2 returns into service with retouched interiors that once again reinforce her statement: You are not taking a cruise. You are about to make a journey. Continue reading

Europe Fast forward | Day 4: London, Great Britain

IMG_4550Ok, so far we had three extraordinary stops on our journey. There was Rome on Day 1, the city of love and one of the ancient birthplaces of Western Civilization.

On Day 2 we discovered the romance and outrageous beauty of Lisbon, the oldest city in Western Europe and one of the oldest ones in the entire world.

Day 3 granted us a stormy Hamburg. And while the weather diminished the amount of actual sightseeing, this day off helped to decelerate our ambitious goal to conquer four European hotspots in only a few hours a day, altogether in four days.

IMG_4496Crazy? Yes! Stressful? Yes! Life enriching? Absolutely!!!

But we are not yet finished. We have one more highlight on the list and probably one of the most all-time popular metropolis around the globe: London. EVERYONE loves London. Including me. I can´t have it all day and not all year round, but once in a while, I just like to dive into this strudel of art, fashion, design, lifestyle and inspiration.

London has it all. It has class, ambition, outlook, tradition and history, but it knows well how to combine them without loosing its own identity. It is always hip, sometimes a little loud, but it is NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER EVER boring!!!

IMG_4503But before I lose myself in endless praise, let´s get started with our four hours marathon that lies ahead of us.

7:00 AM. Horrible time, but the perfect moment to get up. There is not much time for coffee and slowly waking up, so let those legs fly out of bed and right into the shower tub. Our tour starts at The Cumberland Hotel near the Marble Arch at Hyde Park.

I really like the hotel, even though it can get quite busy. Rooms are not the largest (I once had a room, where I had to decide who is sleeping in the bed: The suitcase or me), but the location makes up for everything!

IMG_4458The first thing that I realize as I wander down Oxford Street at this early sunny morning is, how wonderfully quiet it is. There are only a few people around and traffic is, apart from the big red buses, almost non-existent.

We pass the famous Selfridges (the second largest department store in the UK after Harrod´s) with its fantastic architecture until we hit Regent Street. There is tons of great shopping along, but luckily at this time, most shops still remain closed. Regent Street runs straight into Piccadilly Circus. A picture with the giant video displays in the background is done instantly.

IMG_4563We continue down Regent Street, pass the Crimean War Memorial and the Duke of York Column until we reach Saint James´s Park. But before we cross the legendary The Mall over to the park, take a look to the right to spot Buckingham Palace at the end of the boulevard.

London has various recreational areas, Saint James´s is one of my favourites though. Take a moment and enjoy watching the ducks through the fences. They are pretty curious and seem to enjoy to perform in front of their audience.

IMG_4565From here, it is only a few minutes walk until we reach Westminster Abbey. This monumental church is the traditional place for coronation and burial of English and British monarchs, and has hosted legendary weddings such as the ones of Queen Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) to the Duke of Edinburgh in 1947, Prince Andrew to Sarah Ferguson (1986) or Prince William to Kate Middleton (2011).

The wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana, however, did not take place at Westminster Abbey. It was conducted at St. Paul´s Cathedral (which we will pass later). Apparently, because the building offered more seating and its location permitted a longer procession afterwards through the city.

IMG_4570Anyways, just a stone´s throw away, we have another milestone in sightseeing: The Westminster Palace along with the House of Commons and Big Ben. Now that we have already arrived at the river Thames, we are going to cross over the beautiful Westminster Bridge to begin our extensive round on the Queen´s Walk. This waterfront walkway will not only allow us phenomenal vistas on the city, it automatically takes us past tons of other sights while we are en route down to Tower Bridge.

Like the London Eye, Shakespeare´s Globe, Tate Gallery of Modern Art, Borough Market (hmm, delicious finger foods from outdoor cooking stations. Very cool and tasty hangout!!!), The Shard, Balls Brothers Hay´s Galleria (very cool photo opportunity of London´s financial district), just to name a few.

IMG_4511Crossing Tower Bridge, especially on gorgeous days like this one, should be on every visitor´s bucket list. At least once every stay. This monument is matchless and embodies for me the ultimate landmark of the city.

After we have reached the other bank, sit down for a moment on one of the benches at the waterfront walkway and enjoy the view onto Tower Bridge and London´s latest architectural masterpiece: The Shard by Sir Norman Foster (amazing vistas from the viewing gallery on clear days!!!).

IMG_4522We then continue to walk into the direction we came from, pass the Tower of London and head on onto Lower Thames Street. Take glimpses into the side streets as you walk. From historic sites to flawless architecture, there is something for every taste.

After we pass the underpass of the railroad tracks of Cannon Station, we turn right on Dowgate Hill and shortly after left onto Cannon Street. This merges after a little while into St. Paul´s Churchyard, presenting us the homonymous impressive cathedral in all of its beauty.

IMG_4533St. Paul´s Churchyard becomes Ludgate Hill (make sure to fill up your blood sugar at Hardys), becomes Fleet Street. Before heading on, quench your first with a decent ale and the best English pies at Punch Tavern. This place is so outrageously special inside, you simply must pay visit here (if only for a short look inside).

Shortly after, we pass St Dunstan in the West, an Anglican Guild church, that reminds me a little bit of Hogwarts out of the Harry Potter novels. As we are now heading direction Trafalgar Square, it is fun to walk a little bit zig zag through colorful Covent Garden. The area around Maiden Lane offers a great variety of restaurants and bars, such as the classic Rules, for example.

IMG_4543BB Bakery is just a block away. You can take some cupcakes or maccarons with you for later. They are awfully delicious! (If you stay longer than we do today, make sure to make a reservation for one of their legendary Afternoon Tea Bus Tours. This is an out of the ordinary experience).

Trafalgar Square lies just a little south from here, past the National Gallery. This is probably London´s most popular public space and the secret center of the vibrant metropolis. Sit down for a moment and watch the square burst with life.

IMG_4545It is mostly up to you, which way you take back from here to Hyde Park and the Marble Arch (where our journey started roughly around four hours ago), but if you have time and/or energy left, you might enjoy stopping by these spots on the way:

IMG_4571I know, your feet might be aching just from reading, and trust me, mine are. But as sweaty and strict the schedule has been, this extensive walking tour (especially on this marvelous day) has opened a masterful London to me, that I am sure not many other visitors have experienced in such an intense manner.

The city is so diverse, so mixed and so varied, it takes many pieces to complete the picture (if ever possible). And today, we have successfully accomplished just a piece. But just like every world traveller knows: To make it last, discover a place step by step. So do not feel bad, that you will have to come back for more. And this time, make sure to pamper yourself with a more relaxing timeframe. Ready for YOUR next London adventure at YOUR paste?

Safe travels, folks!