I will be living in South Kensington for a year and as of so far, I am loving it here.There are two parks, three museums and two universities that I can reach from my place on foot. It is a really nice combination- when the weather is good, people go to the parks and when the weather is bad, people hang out inside the museums. I will write about the museums in a separate entry. The reason why I am here is because of Imperial College – supposedly the joint-second best university in the world in 2014 by QS World University rankings. I have not started classes yet so I cannot comment on that. As of so far, all I can say is that Imperial College is a rather compact university as compared to National University of Singapore and most of the eateries are located at The Walkway. That area must be quite busy when term starts. We will see.
Behind parts of Imperial College stands the Royal College of Music and Royal Albert Hall. The Royal Albert Hall is one of my favourite buildings in London so far and it hosts quite a number of music performances. I would love to watch a show inside the hall one day.
I came to England not knowing so much about the history of British royal family and so I really picked up quite a bit of its history in Kensington Palace – the only tourist attraction in South Kensington that charges an admission fee. Different from the tourist attractions in Japan, I noticed that English tourist places do not specify a route so you can choose the order you want to visit the exhibitions. It is probably a cultural difference between the two countries. The problem is that sometimes I am not sure if I have seen everything already. Kensington Palace is quite an interesting place as it is segmented into different areas to tell the life stories of different monarchs. There is an area with a couple of rooms which tells the life story of Queen Victoria from her childhood till her death. The story is easy to follow especially the short-lived love between Queen Victoria and King Albert. However, some of the words are in italics and it is a bit difficult to read. If I remember correctly, there is an area showing the dresses of the royal women across the different ages and there is another area about House of Stuart. I was quite taken aback when”Queen Caroline” and her servant appeared, walked through the different rooms, made comments about the paintings and even sat down for round of cards with a few tourists!
Beside Kensington Palace is the Kensington Gardens. I love Kensington Gardens, there is a beautiful pond with many swans, ducks and geese. There are people feeding the water birds, sun-tanning, walking their dogs, cycling and running inside the park. One day I would love to cycle there. What I like most about Kensington Gardens is that it is just beside Kensington High Street which is always buzzing with activities, cars and people. This is what I find amazing about London – it manages to have large green space next to busy areas.
Next to Kensington Gardens is Hyde Park. I think it is impossible to walk the whole Hyde Park on foot in a day. I will need a bicycle to explore the park. The vibes of Hyde Park are similar to that of Kensington Gardens except it is more congested. Probably it is because it is a more famous park so more tourists go there. I have only explored a very small part of the park along the Serpentine river on a beautiful day. I hope that the good weather in London can last for a while longer! 🙂