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Trip Report Welltravbrit's London Sojourn - An Ongoing Trip Report

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Subtitle: The Glamour Never Ends, Bethnal Green Here We Come!

Well, we’ve rented our house and are hitting the road. We’ve done this a few times before (Paris, Rome + Asia = lots of posts on my blog and Fodors) but this time we are off to London. I’m a Brit, but it has been 25 years since I’ve lived in the UK and though I had student summer jobs in London, I never lived there. We’ve rented a flat from an American cultural historian and will be in Bethnal Green for three months, April, May and June. Right now we are experiencing a bit of a heat wave in California and the drought means our winter has been sunny, warm and dry.
So why on earth are we leaving for London?!! After so many years away I've come to rely on the sun, I knew I shouldn’t have looked at the weather forecast which is predictably cold and rainy!

Once again we used Sabbaticalhomes.com to find a place and to rent our home, it’s been an amazing resource for finding great people to rent our place, and great places to stay when we are traveling. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a longer stay or if you live near a university and would consider renting out your house to academics.

I’m hoping to get to know lots of my favorite museums and to explore lots of the museums that I haven’t visited before. I’ve been scouring some of the posts here on off the beaten path things to see, thanks Palenque and others. I now have a ridiculously long list of places I’d like to see Including; 2 Willow Rd, the Horniman Museum, Keat’s House, Emery Walker’s House, Spencer House, Petrie Museum, Strawberry Hill House, Red House, Geoffrey Museum, Jewish Museum, Foundling Museum, Apsley House, Eltham House, Kenwood House, Dulwich Picture Gallery and lots more. Of course I won’t see them all but it’s good to have a variety of places to aim for. Overall, I’m hoping to get to know the city and the museums a little better and to do lots of walking.

I don’t know the East End of London and Bethnal Green is somewhere that had changed dramatically since I was a child when Tower Hamlets was a byword for violence, urban decay and social conflict. It’s a working class area that has seen waves of immigration and is now rapidly gentrifying. I’m looking forward to seeing London from a different perspective as we normally stay in the West End. We are close to Columbia Flower Market and Broadway Market and I’m looking forward to being able to walk to Brick Lane, though I haven’t been there since the early 1990s!

To prepare I’ve been listening to a History of the City of London from Great Courses (ok but not great, my husband recommends Porter's A Social History of London) and reading a book on the history of the East End. In the past we’ve joined the Royal Oak Society (the US arm of the National Trust) but this time we will be mainly in London so I joined the Art Fund, membership gives you free entrance to many of the smaller house museums and a 50% discount on special exhibits at the larger museums. I think it’s a good deal for anyone staying for a substantial period and/or looking to visit a lot of small museums and historic houses.

I’m particularly looking forward to seeing lots of theatre and we’ve booked tickets to a number of National Theatre productions including Ralph Fiennes in Man and Superman. Review to follow.

I’ll be posting here on Fodors and blogging about our trip on my blog, though I have to wrap up our last trip report on Egypt first. Here’s the first post on planning our London sojourn
http://www.somuchmoretosee.com/2015/03/planning-our-trip-to-london-spring-2015.html

I’m posting from the airport, SFO and we should be leaving in about an hour. We booked the flat eleven months ago and I can’t believe we are finally on our way! If you have any suggestions we should have time to follow up on them.

Hope you'll enjoy following along.

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