Showing posts with label DLR. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DLR. Show all posts

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Walking in the Olympic Park in Stratford, London

For any local London person, and visitors to London if they have the time, I would definitely recommend checking out the Olympic Park.

This was developed specially for the 2012 Olympics held in London.  Previously the area was mainly used for run-down, low quality, industry.  Part of the area was covered with railway sidings, used for the parking of suburban trains overnight.  Very few people would have even passed through there, unless delivering old car and truck tires for storage, or such like.

In the years leading up to the Olympics the area was completely transformed.  Low lying parts which were boggy and subject to flooding were raised up by massive piles of earth which had been excavated to build the Eurostar train line which was tunnelled directly underneath.

The Lee River and canals were thoroughly cleaned up, and extensive planting of lawns, shrubs and trees took place.  The park was one of the greatest attractions of the Olympics, with many visitors for events at the Stadium, Aquatic Centre, Copper Box, Velodrome, and so on.

A few months ago the park was reopened to the public, and I often wander around different parts.  There are lots of attractive plants, and an amazing variety of types.  There is even a wetlands area for plants which need ponds and damp soil to grow in.  There are extensive gravel paths running the length of the park, so it is easy enough to walk the length of the park, although you are perfectly welcome to wander around the grassy areas as well.

Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the Olympic Park is the Orbit.  This towering curling structure, painted a rich red, overlooks all of the park, and there are good views towards the business hub City of London, as well as Canary Wharf.  And on the eastern side of the park there is the massive Westfield Shopping Centre, currently the largest urban shopping centre in Europe.

For visitors to London it is very easy to get to Stratford.  Probably most will use the Central or Jubilee underground train lines.  However there are also platforms at Stratford station for Dockland Light Railway and Overground trains.

There are sure to be further posting about the Olympic Park in the future, examining in greater detail particular features of this wonderful park.

This video will help to give you a better visual impression -

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Cable Car connecting O2 Centre with Royal Docks

Since shortly before the 2012 Olympics in London there has been a cable car running over the Thames River in East London which has proved to be very popular with visitors to London.

Admittedly this is not of a particularly grand scale, as it covers a distance of probably less than a kilometre.  However it needs to go high above the river, to pass over large boats going up and down, so there are spectacular views of City Airport, the Canary Wharf development, and the magnificent O2 Centre.

Each cabin can hold up to 10 passengers, five to a side facing each other.  Crossing time can be as little as five minutes, although it seems that the controllers can slow this to eight minutes if there isn't too much demand from waiting passengers at either end, so that there is more opportunity to study the views.

On the North Greenwich side there is a Underground station, and the cable car is just a few minutes walk away.  While there you might as well look inside the O2 Centre.  This is easily the most popular concert venue in the world, and can hold up to 20,000 people for performances.  At present the Monty Python revival is playing there.  Adjacent is the Indigo, which can cater audiences up to 2,000.  Circled around the main arena are many bars and restaurants, and a few shops as well.  If you are feeling energetic enough there is a walk right over the curve of the O2 Centre, with walkers being connected to safety lines and accompanied by guides.

On the other side, at the Royal Docks, the Royal Victoria Docklands Light Railway (DLR) station is just a few minutes walk from the cable car.  There are many hotels in this area including a Crowne Plaza, Novotel, Ibis, and moored nearby a recently arrived passenger cruise style boat which has around 130 cabins.  Also close is the ExCel Centre, now easily London's largest exhibition centre, which is worth walking through as it is more attractive inside than outside.

Another feature is the Siemens Sustainability Centre, which is a kind of museum concentrating on exhibitions showing how we can live in a more sustainable world in the future.  There are many interesting displays, and the centre will appeal particularly to children, even though there is lots to challenge the thinking of adults as well.

The cable car is largely sponsored by Emirates, which must be gaining a great deal of useful positive publicity having its name closely associated with the service.  For the time being the cable car is not carrying as many passengers as originally intended, mainly because very few work commuters need to use it.  However particularly during the summer it is popular with tourists, as it allows an alternative perspective of parts of east London.  On warm and sunny days there can be large queues, so it is best to go in the mornings on weekdays rather than at the weekend.

Here is a YouTube video which will give you an impression of the cable car experience, starting from the Royal Docks side, crossing to North Greenwich.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Tour de France into London - post race

On the whole, day 3 of this years Tour de France went smoothly enough, despite some spectators standing too close to the path of cyclists with temporary disruption a few times.

The third stage began in the picturesque location of Cambridge, with lots of imposing stone university colleges on view.  Good progress was made through the attractive sun-lit countryside of Essex before the riders entered the outskirts of London.

Very quickly the riders were entering the northern part of Olympic Park, then speeding down roads past the Velodrome, Copper Box, Aquatic Centre, Olympic Stadium, and the iconic red Orbit tower.

From there it was through residential suburbs to the Royal Docks, past City Airport, alongside Canary Wharf where a DLR train had been specially painted with the message 'Va Va Froome', then Tower Bridge and Tower of London, through the southern edge of the City of London, with the Thames on the left hand side, round the corner at Parliament House, up to Buckingham Palace, making one last turn, and then the final sprint up the Mall where the German ride Kittel managed to win a stage for the second time in three days.

The days events went very well, and the few days that the race was run in England turned out to be very successful.  From London's perspective, the main disappointment was the weather.  Earlier in the afternoon it had been pleasantly sunny, but by the time the cyclists hit London there was a drizzle of rain, and the sky was grey and grim.

From the helicopter where were shots of many recognisable landmarks, with excellent views into the grounds of the Tower of London, but the sights would have been more attractive to potential visitors to London if the weather had been sunnier.

Hopefully many people watching the race unfolding on tv screens around the world will have been surprised to see how beautiful much of the English countryside is, and how stunning so many of the historic and modern buildings in central London, not to mention the extensive green parks.

When will the Tour de France next have stages in neighbouring England?  We want you back!