It has just been announced that many flights from UK airports have been cut. There are now 21 fewer destinations available and many internal flights have also been slashed or cancelled. Add this to the problem of our British Pound struggling to compete against foreign currencies and many of us are now considering a holiday in the UK this year.
But it’s actually possible to “travel the world” without actually leaving London for little more than the price of a one day Travelcard. The obvious thing would be to go to Chinatown in Soho, Cairo in Edgware Road, Portugal in Stockwell, Turkey in Harringay, or Ireland in Kilburn Road. But there are many other interesting alternatives. Here are a few ideas:
The easiest way to go to Egypt is to visit the British Museum. But we think a more interesting idea is to hunt out some Art Deco Egyptianate architecture such as the fabulous Carreras factory building on Mornington Crescent. When it was constructed in 1926, it was the largest building of its kind. The two magnificent cats either side of the main door symbolise the company’s Black Cat logo.
Another good example in north London is the Grade II listed Carlton Cinema in Essex Road, Islington. This temple to the movies, complete with lotus flowers and buds, is now sadly closed and empty, awaiting news of its future. Nearby, in Richmond Avenue, a row of houses is adorned with sphinxes and obelisks. Other examples include the deceptively short Egyptian Avenue at Highgate Cemetery and Alfie’s Antique Market off Lisson Grove and Brixton Market with its colourful Egyptian doorway. And then there's always Cleopatra’s Needle, one of a pair of red granite obelisks from the quarries of Aswan, situated on Victoria Embankment which is lined with Egyptian-themed benches.
Harrods is also a good place to see Egypt in London. There are quite a few areas within the store that are themed - the Egyptian clothing halls on the ground floor are a particularly good example. Mohammed Al Fayed has had much of the decor listed to avoid it being removed or altered.
If you had always meant to see the sights of Ancient Greece an alternative idea might be go for a run around the perimeter of the exhibition halls at Olympia in West Kensington. You could make the experience all the more authentic by stripping naked - throw a Frisbee and pretend it’s a discus.
A trip to Europe in London might include Holland House, Kensington, which is steeped in history, but we also like the wonderfully tiled façade of Holland House in Bury Street, EC3, a Grade II listed building, overlooked by the Gherkin. It was designed for the Müller Shipping Company, in the heavy pre-war Amsterdam style, by the pioneering Dutch architect Hendrik Petrus Berlage in 1914-1916 and was one of the first office buildings to offer office flexibility through moveable partitions and sophisticated service systems.
All this sightseeing is thirsty work so get down to Soho for a coffee in the ever-popular Bar Italia then, for a real travel bargain, wander around the corner into Greek Street and admire the old doorway mosaic of the Roma restaurant - two countries in one location!
How about some long-haul travel? The wilds of North America beckon in the form of The Alaska Factory in Bermondsey, SE1, which originally opened in 1869 for the processing of Alaskan seal fur. There is a motif of a seal on the gate on Grange Road. The gate is all that remains of the original buildings due to heavy bombing in the Second World War. The 1950’s addition to the complex, shown above, has now been converted into flats.
You may have been hoping to go Rio this year. As compensation go to the cinema of the same name in Dalston where there is always a diverse range of films on offer. Perhaps you might even catch a Brazilian film, such as the brilliant City of God.
New Zealand is a beautiful country and usually well worth the journey, but rather than spending some time with kiwi friends in a antipodean-themed bar, go and admire what’s left of the triangular Wellington pub on Three Colts Lane, E2, which stands at the corner of the now defunct City of London Brewery Company.
NZ may be half a day ahead of us but for the ultimate in time travel how about a trip in a space ship to an alien world? There are a handful of pubs in London called The Enterprise and if you choose to go to the one that’s furthest from your home, then you really will be going boldly; seeking out new lives and new civilisations.
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