We had a great half day in Napier as we were there for the art deco weekend. This is an annual classic car and 1930’s weekend. They expect 40,000 over the weekend. Car folks come from all over to show the cars.
Napier is a remarkable place with an exciting port and an unusual beautiful downtown area with almost all rebuilt since the massive earthquake in 1933. There are many places to visit including the completely rebuilt downtown areas but also the walk along the water is beautiful and with the trees and flowers right on the water it’s a very impressive area. The art deco Museum is well worth it and has a short 20 minute presentation on what happened before and after the earthquake and what turned it into the place it is today. And across the street from the art deco museum is their history museum that has a downstairs exhibit featuring the earthquake with a 20 minute revolving film about stories from survivors. Both museums are well worth it and you can do both in about an hour.
The Ship shuttle takes you right to the Information Center and from there a lot of information about the four or five main streets with lots of shops and restaurants and bars.The aquarium is very well done and has some excellent exhibits but is about a 20 minute walk from the Information Center but again well worth it if you like aquariums
If you have limited time in the port city then it’s best to leave early as the shops will open about 9…As you leave the information Center you can walk up to Clive Square which is at the edge of the art deco area and then come back by the Cathedral which was completely destroyed and totally rebuilt…… very impressive with the wood and stucco and a nice of the earthquake and the organ is spectacular.
In summary Napier is very much well worth the time … very impressive and rather amazing world wide to think that the city was totally destroyed and it’s been completely rebuilt. The earthquake museum really illustrate what the city went through and how they recovered in such a short time very well done.
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Another MUST…if you are interested in British history…and especially WW II….and what led up to it. How we missed the Churchill War Rooms museum and exhibit is a good question, for this is a great exhibit and history lesson in what happened leading up to the war…and then what Winston Churchill did to lead Britain to victory.
This is a good 2 hours if you take your time…located right off of Whitehall in the heart of the government offices and right around the corner from #10 Downing Street…which was the office for Winston Churchill as Prime Minister….and literally across the street from the War Rooms.
The War Rooms is the entire area where the war was conducted by the Prime Minister. This was the Command Center, the Ops Center, and the Communication Center for the leadership in the Government. It is very well re-created in the exact rooms used back during the War….and shows the various players involved and how they were involved.
The Museum is very well done….and I found it most interesting after going through the Rooms themselves….as it kind of puts all in perspective. The way the tour is set up, the Museum is in the middle, but thanks to Carrie having been there previously….she suggested the Museum at the end, and I agree.
Just a great part of the London history…so put it on your list..
Following the War Rooms, we went to the Royal Albert Hall for the Classic Christmas with London Concert Orchestra and London Concert Chorus…and then the famous Boys Choir. Another great show…more Classic than on Wednesday with not as much “flair”…but superb classic performance. As good as it gets if you like excellent orchestra and choir, with the massive organ…..just a GREAT EVENING of great music..
Having lived here many years ago…then having visited several times over the past few years….and knowing the way the world is growing…..an issue in London that could come up is …”getting around”. And, when you are in a “season”, such as now being the Christmas season…crowds and traffic increases significantly, as London is becoming one of the most popular tourist and travel destinations in the world…folks are coming here from all over the world.
First, all traffic drives on the left side of the street, versus the right side, which is most common in most of the modern world. Secondly, the streets are quite narrow at times….so not a lot of room to change lanes, etc…..even the main streets are not that wide, so you have to be very alert to traffic on all sides. Thirdly, the volume of cars, taxis, and buses can be overwhelming at times…and all coming and going in various directions can be very intimidating. It compares with NYC, Rome, and Bangkok in volume, but very well organized, and the lines and signals are followed by all….might be called organized chaos.
Add the public transport to this mix, and it is amazing that all goes together so well. The underground, or metro, or tube…is world famous and absolutely massive in size….again, nothing really like it in the world. Well posted, once you get the idea and “swing of it”…very easy to navigate, but be prepared for crowds. The system works so well, so thousands use it daily….and it goes about 20 hours a day. The double decker buses are great, and go all over the place at all times. The bus stops may have 5 or 6 buses stopping at these stops, but the bus numbers are well posted…and the numbers are what you watch for. For example, but #10 runs up and down Knightsbridge…which takes you right to the Royal Albert Hall…#6 goes to Trafalgar, etc. The taxi system is very popular and very busy….and historically are the basic means to get around. Not cheap, and at times, not much faster to get from one point to another due to traffic, but very comfortable and safe, and they are well regulated, so no need to worry about being “ripped off”. The drivers are usually very friendly and will help as much as needed….they appreciate the tourists. The interesting thing is that many, many locals, including business folks and local shoppers, use the taxi system….so they know it works well.
So, in summary…getting around is pretty easy to figure out…and pretty easy to go from one place to the other. The key is to get the many maps, from the general maps to the bus maps to the metro – tube maps…and most of this is on various apps now. But, and this is a big “but”…be prepared for crowds, which can really slow down the entire system. When the hotel concierge says 30 minutes, give yourself 45 minutes, or even an hour, and so it goes. And, be prepared for crowds at the seasons….and if you want to see the “changing of the guard” in the summer, for example, be prepared for massive crowds lining up at the fences an hour, or more, early. And,, when one is in these tourist areas, look for the higher places to view the event…looking over the crowds, even though maybe a bit further away.
Just some thoughts on “getting around”. Can be done without much difficulty…but prepare, and be prepared.
Enjoy the travel in London….it will be a unique experience…..
Wednesday was a quiet morning…then leaving for the Royal Albert Hall at 1 PM….taking the bus through the heavy traffic arriving at about 1:45…..went to the café to wait for Dawn and Carrie and William…Dawn was there and Carrie came about 2:15…we went up to our seats and the program began.
There are few musical experiences (in my opinion) in the world that can equal the concerts at Royal Albert Hall (RAH)…if you are looking for the total orchestra, band, choir, and soloist all in one performance…but here it is. These RAH Christmas programs run right up to Christmas and start late November….some days with 2 concerts a day.
This concert, which is the first of three for us, featured the London Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Chorus, and the Coldstream Guards Band, plus a Tenor from the London Opera. The program was entitled Christmas Carols and was a 3 hour concert that included the audience singing Christmas Carols along with the orchestra and chorus, and the huge and unbelievable organ…that is clearly the biggest sound of any organ that we have ever heard. RAH seats about 10,000 and is the main entertainment venue for London, and to a degree, England. It is a wonderful place to listen to concerts…and even though we are in the high up “cheap seats”… I think they are the best in the Hall…for you can get the full impact of the huge musical production. For the program, the variety of music is from classical to modern arrangements of both familiar and not so familiar Christmas songs. I could go on and on…but suffice it to say…this was a wonderful musical moment….a once in a lifetime experience for a music and concert lover like me…performed by some of the best musicians in the world….as good as it can get.
Back to the hotel as we were too late for the Charles Dickens program, so will try and reschedule. Today is the Churchill War Rooms….then a full afternoon of tourist things…with another RAH concert this evening at 7:30 PM…
Should be a fun day…….