Caravans and London
- hardly a winning combination, most of us might think. Just the
idea of travelling through the busy traffic, especially if a
stranger to the city, would be enough to send a shiver up and
down all but the bravest spine!
Yet visit the Caravan Club site at Crystal Palace and everything
changes. Easy access from outside London brings you to an
excellent base for a break in and around the London area. Here
all the usual comforts of a Club site combine with easy public
transport links to the famous sights, to the West End, or
whatever else in the capital takes your fancy.
The site lies alongside Crystal Palace Park, where the original
Palace was a major tourist attraction of its day until destroyed
by fire in 1936. Today the park is a large, open space - ideal
for a stroll and with plenty of attractions for all the family
including farmyard, boating lake and maze. The famous athletics
stadium is a near neighbour.
Getting to Crystal Palace is not as difficult as first it might
seem. There are several alternative routes depending upon the
direction from which you approach London - all use main routes
and so may be busy at times. Once you have arrived, though, you
can put your car away and rely on others to get you around; it is
easy to reach the centre of London using public transport, almost
from the site itself.
The site at Crystal Palace is open all year and advanced booking
necessary at all times. Well-established trees divide the site
into smaller areas creating an almost rural atmosphere; it is
surprisingly quiet, an area of calm amidst the bustle that is
London with pitches for 84 caravans and motorhomes (mostly
hardstandings) and a separate area for tents. Foreign visitors
are often to be found - during one recent 3-month period 22
countries around the world were recorded!
Pleasant though Crystal Palace is the site is more suitable for
use as a base than as somewhere to while away the hours alongside
your caravan. After an early breakfast it's time to head into
town! Catch a bus a couple of hundred yards from the site
entrance and ride all the way to Piccadilly or Oxford Circus -
Travel Cards (for all-day travel on buses and underground) can be
purchased at the site office.
London: there can be few places in the world where so many
attractions for all ages can be found so close together. Whatever
your interest (and even if you are more at home in the
countryside, cities not being your thing!) there will be
something that appeals. Established sights such as the Houses of
Parliament and St. Paul's Cathedral are well known - but why
not try something a little different?
A recent and prominent addition to the skyline is the London Eye,
erected to mark the new millennium. A trip takes around 45
minutes, and on a clear day you can look down on the Thames and
the surrounding countryside for miles around. Still popular - so
expect to queue!
Another way to enjoy the capital from a different perspective is
on foot, and there are many walking routes offering superb views.
Organised tours are available but if you prefer to go it alone
try the South Bank of the Thames from Westminster Bridge, past
the Eye and The Festival Hall until you reach the Tate Modern
Gallery (perhaps stopping for a meal at Gabriel's Wharf).
After an hour or two browsing some of the finest modern art
available catch a ride back on one of the waterbuses, or cross
the Millennium Bridge (yes, that's the one that made everyone
a little seasick when first opened!) to retrace your steps along
the opposite bank.
At times during the year London is host to Carnival - the most
famous being at Notting Hill which is billed as one of the
largest street parties in Europe. Here you can see adults and
children alike in some of the most colourful costumes imaginable
whilst you try the spicy, exotic food and drink from the many
surrounding side-stalls. The number of different ways to enjoy
London is almost limitless. The Tower Bridge Experience takes you
inside the famous landmark to see how it works, with views along
the river from the high-level walkways. Hunt for a bargain at one
of the major street markets like Borough Market or Portobello
Road by day, then visit a West End show in the evening. Enjoy a
little wine tasting at Vinopolis whilst learning about the
origins of wine, then tour the nearby jail museum in Clink Street
(the original prison here, as you might have guessed, gave birth
to the expression).
Crystal Palace is the ideal way to visit London to do something
different - go on, give it a try!
© GDS 2003