Explore London

Introduction

So as you may know because of this ongoing pandemic, travelling international has been impossible or difficult to say the least. However as the world starts to open up I have planned to start travelling in slow stages, taking the opportunity to explore local and travel domestically.  My plans are:

Explore Local

Explore London

Explore England

Explore United Kingdom

Travel Abroad

I have already completed my first segment “Exploring Local” going around my borough Greenwich, luckily it is a place full of points of interests. I have just completed roaming London and I will write all about my experience in depth in several posts.

Exploring London

Roaming around my own city like a tourist was interesting, as it was just after lockdown there were no other tourists around making the usual photography opportunities much better as there were no crowds. However although the joys of no crowds there were the negatives of shops and restaurants still being shut which obviously acting as a tourist, had an impact on the day out. Furthermore because of the easing of lockdown there were still things that were not usual on a normal day such as face masks which are mandatory on transport and long lines on every shops. The huge positive for me is that the daily cost of roaming London was very cheap because I had very little to spend. There were no restaurants open nor entrance tickets (as entrance to attractions were closed) and there were no souvenir shops open, which I wouldn’t buy them for the city I live in anyway but you know what I’m trying to get at.

In terms of the attractions in London, it was much better seeing them without the crowds, it was so much more peaceful and as stated earlier photo or video opportunities are much better. However I wasn’t able to go inside any of the attractions as everything was closed, but sometimes (in London) the points of interest are best observed from the outside.

My plan was to visit some of London’s hidden beauties which aren’t advertised as a popular tourist destination. During my exploration I have found places I believe tourists are probably aren’t aware of such as Battersea Park, 02 Arena, Olympic Park, Hamstead Heath and much more (post coming soon).

Overall it has been an eye opening experience for me and something that made me think that if I visit other countries or cities soon after the pandemic, I probably wouldn’t see the full extent of what they have to offer, with attractions, museums, restaurant, shops and restaurants possibly still closed. In your own city this would be ok but to spend for flights and hotels only getting half of the experience may defeat the purpose and reason for travelling in the first place. 

Here is a 30 second video of my experience and some of the site I got to see.

Thanks for reading

 

Osaka

Type : City
Best Date : 
Don’t Know
Expense :
Expensive
Things to do : Eat, Theme Parks,
Points of Interest: Osaka castle, Universal Studio, Dotonbori, Osaka Aquarium, Umeda Sky Building
The Good: Excellent food, Very nice people
The Bad: Most confusing train system (Japan in general), Expensive

Brief

Osaka (formerly known as Naniwa) was the first known capital of Japan. Today it is the second largest metropolis in the country behind the country’s current capital ‘Tokyo’. Osaka was destined to be the political centre of Japan as the then general ‘Toyotomi Hideyoshi’ chose this city to build his castle only for his successor to shift the power to Tokyo.

Osaka is known for its food, nightlife and architecture especially in the Dotonbori.

The Place

Osaka was the first city I visited in Japan and my first impressions was that it was an industrial city as I saw plenty factories whilst travelling from the airport to my hotel.

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We stayed at the ‘Keihan Universal Tower Hotel’ near the ‘Universal Studios’ theme park.  Although far and complicated to travel to ‘central Osaka’ and other significant attractions in the city, it was a good clean area with its own characteristics. The area which is just outside the theme park is known as Universal citywalks it was a very lively place from early morning till about 11pm in the night full of performers, restaurants and other amusements. Food is plentiful and although expensive there are various local and western cuisine to choose from, whether a quick snack or finer dining ‘citywalks ‘ caters to all.  The nearest station ‘Universal city’ can get very busy at peak hours in the morning and evening from tourists entering and exiting the theme park, so if staying in the area it is would be good to plan timings of when to roam.

Universal studios was a great outing, but you will have to leave a whole day.

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Another Place we visited in Osaka is Dotonbori a very famous place for nightlife and dining, one of Osaka’s principal tourist destinations. Best visited at night the street which runs along the Dotonbori canal is lit by many luminous flashing lights full of different colours and shapes which equates to stunning photographic opportunities. Here we found a brilliant Japanese restaurant (forgot the name) where we tried the famous Wagyu beef.

Shinsabashi which is the next road parallel to Dotonbori is also a booming place at night, full of restaurants , bars, clubs and a traditional market.

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Probably the cover attraction of the city is ‘Osaka castle’ which centres ‘Osaka castle Park’. The park in itself is beautiful and around the ‘cherry blossom’ season  it is said to be a sight to see. In the middle of the park is two large ring lakes surrounded by amazing thick steep stone walls which were built to protect the castle in the early years as this was a frequent battle ground. These walls are impressive and there are boat tours to see these walls closer. Furthermore around the park there are many attractions such as shrines, various gardens, an American world war factory, baseball field and an outdoor events stage. Various restaurants, cafes and food stalls are inside the park which is very convenient as the park is huge and can take a whole day to roam. However the main attraction of the park is the ‘Osaka castle’ and its ‘Museum’, in my opinion the outside (of the castle) is impressive but  inside not too much, although it has plenty of historic artefacts.

Central Osaka (Umada district) is not much of a haven for tourist but a nice place to visit anyway. Here you can go shopping with many different modern outlets and dine at some of the city’s finest restaurants. ‘Osaka Station’ in itself is a nice place and aight to see, although very busy with workers there are many places to unwind.

Just outside Osaka station you will see the famous and spectacular ‘Umada sky building’ with the ‘Kuchu Teien Observation deck’ which is a floating garden above the two towers. Here you can see the whole of Osaka.

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Lastly another place that must be visited whilst in the city is ‘Kaiyukan Osaka Aquarium’, which is one of the largest in the world. A popular amusement and one in a few which houses the enormous  whale shark which they also use as their mascot. This aquarium has been the best so far with a diverse collection of creatures from mammals such as sealions and seals, birds such as penguins and the many fishes from around the world. The ‘Tempozan Ferris wheel’ and ‘Legoland’ are also based within the area, however I didn’t bother going to them as I believe they are more for the younger audiences.

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There are other places to see in the Osaka prefecture (city) that I didn’t or couldn’t visit due to the time I had. I decided to leave shrines and temples for my next city (prefecture) Kyoto as that was the place for it. Otherwise the only places I missed out were other districts and amusements such as Tennoji zoo.

Conclusion

My visit to Osaka City (Osaka prefecture)was interesting and a good place to start my whole Japan experience. The best way I could describe it was a smaller more conservative Tokyo (in my opinion). The city was busy and full of people with the train systems (like many in Japan) were a bit more complicated than other countries. There was plenty to do and visit in Osaka but the majority are modern amusements like the Universal studios, Lego land or Osaka aquarium. Osaka is not a place if you want to see shrines and temples as there is little to none, with the only significant historic structure is the castle.

Back to my Japan Trip

 

Reference:

https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2157.html

Photo:

Brücke-Osteuropa (UmedaSky Building)