(This page has been updated on December 18, 2015)
London, due in part to its excessively high cost of living, is not as popular among tourists as Paris, its neighbour across the Channel. However, if you happen to be in Paris for a few weeks it is worth the while to make a short visit to London by taking the Eurostar train (and give yourself that "Been there, done that" feeling!) The train trip now takes only 2 1/4 hours (yes, two hours 15 minutes only!). The cost? From 69 euros if booked some time in advance (see below) but at this cheap fare the two-way tickets are non-changeable and non-refundable so be warned. The normal fare could come up to over 300 euros for a return trip.
NOTE: The Eurostar train from Paris Gare du Nord takes only 2h15m to arrive at the St Pancras International station in London.
The Victoria and Albert museum seen from the inside (above) and from the outside (below). Click to enlarge. (Photos courtesy of K. Paterson)
The Boris bikes.
If you are a history buff London is just the place for you. Nowhere in the world is history so omnipresent - museums on almost every subject under the sun (eg. there is a Sherlock Holmes Museum and a Handel House Museum) as well as historic houses and monuments.
Established in 1852, the Victoria and Albert Museum in Cromwell Road, South Kensington, London is the world's greatest museum of art and design.
And after the museums what about a visit to the New Spitalfields Market (more here), which also has an international food village to compete with that at Camden and satisfy all your palatal needs.
Old shops die hard in London. I was dumbfounded by a shop that sells nothing but umbrellas.
And what is even more astonishing is that it has been doing that since 1830!
Only in London perhaps is this possible. And I heard there's another shop in London that sells only pipes. Is this an indication, in the case of one, of the weather conditions in London and in the other, of the pipe-puffing Londoners?
1. The Shard, standing at a height of almost 310 metres, was inaugurated on 05 July 2012. It is now the European Union's tallest building. Also known as the Shard London Bridge, it replaces Southwark Towers, built in 1976. It will house offices and have top-quality restaurants as well as the five-star Shangri-La hotel. The Shard's observation deck, offering a 360° view, was first open to the public on 1st February 2013. Be prepared to fork out 26£ for a view from the top (34£ with a glass of champagne thrown in!). This is the entrance fee for an adult if you buy it online from their site here (It will cost you another 5 quid extra if you buy it in person at the building).
2. The Boris bikes came into existence on 30 July 2010. Named after mayor Boris Johnson and run along the same lines as the Velibs of Paris, it is a common sight in the streets of London.
3. The Tea Building
If you are in London it's not too expensive to hop over to Paris by Eurostar. If you are lucky enough you might be able to buy a return London-Paris-London ticket by Eurostar for as little as £69 (see screenshot to the right). But you really got to book well in advance. This booking was made on December 18, 2015 for a trip to Paris on January 19, 2016 (returning on January 21, 2016).