UK - London is calling!
Early in the morning we took the train from Manchester to London Euston. It was a comfortable trip and the coffee offered on the train was decent. It was on the train that we found the most delicious sin for breakfast: millionaires shortbread. This is shortbread with a thick layer of caramel cream covered with milk chocolate. Not to mention the calories...... But it is soooooo very yummy. In Euston we had to find our way through the many gangways to get to the right tube to Stratford. We had based ourselves in Stratford in the Travelodge. It had good reviews and was in walking distance to the hall where our spiritual master was about to give 2 Darshans. And as none of the hotels downtown came close to the price, we had decided to stay there for the following 2 days after the darshans as well.
We arrived at the hotel and bumped into some friends we had not expected here. What a nice surprise. We settled down in our room and went for a short walk to Stratford City. It is a typical suburb area of London - actually not really nice (at least not around this time of the year). But the main action during the Olympic Games 2012 took place here. So it was quite interesting to walk around the area. We had a quick lunch before we went back to our room to get ready for the darshan. The Darshan with Paramahamsa Vishwananda was packed with people, many coming from all over the world but also many, many Londoner's. Darshan with a living spiritual master is always very special. You look into his eyes, he looks into your soul and you are simply showered in pure love. If you have not had the chance to attend a Darshan with a living master - do not miss it and go there. No matter if you are a religious person or an atheist, if you believe in it or not - and no matter from which religion you are. You will feel it. It is the greatest give to humanity. Late at night we went back to our hotel with our friends.
The next morning we slept in late and had a quick breakfast in our room before we went for a walk in the Olympic Park. We visited the amazing London Aquatic Center and had a short stroll through the Park. It was freezing cold with a light drizzle and a strong wind. So the stroll was short but pleasant. The whole area is a big construction site with new buildings rising to the sky. We were surprised. This area is not at all deserted like many former olympic areas. It is full of life even on a grey sunday morning and many more buildings are coming. In the Westfield City Mall we tried to warm up and went for a nice coffee and later for lunch. Then it was time to get reay again for the second Darshan with our master. This one was equally amazing and again it was late at night when we went back through the drizzle to our hotel.
The following day, monday, was a pure sightseeing day. We took the tube from Stratford to Westminster (it took us only 25 minutes). We started at the Big Ben and walked along the major sights of London: Westminster Abbey, London Eye, Downing Street, Horse Guard and Trafalgar Square. From time to time we had to warm up in a café. We continued through Chinatown to Soho. There we went to the Iskcon Temple. After the prayers lunch was offered to the people around. The temple is bang in the centre of town and is a nice oasis of peace with lovely food. Afterwards, we went to Covent Garden and let ourselves just browse through the streets of London till we finally found ourselves in Green Garden and in front of
the Buckingham Palace. For dinner we went to a lovely indian restaurant close to Covent Garden. Next day we started at the Tower of London. The weather was worse: light drizzle and dark grey sky. But this did not stop us from walking around. From the tower we walked over the famous Tower Bridge and continued on the banks of River Thamse towards Borough Market. We love this area althoug more an more tourists are coming here every year. But still it is a nice place and has the most amazing cafè in London: Monmouth's. Of course we stopped by for a coffee and to warm up. We continued our walk towards the Tate Modern and over the Millenium Bridge to St. Paul's Cathedral. On the walk to Soho we stopped in many shops just to warm up. In the evening, after dinner in Soho we went north to Fitzrovia where the Asia House is. Sati Ethnica, very well known in Russia as Sati Kazanova (a russian pop singer), was giving a concert and Paramahamsa Vishwananda was coming to. It was an amazing concert. In the end Paramahamsa Vishwananda came down from the hall and blessed personally all the people that were still waiting there for him. It was amazing. Throuugh the rainy streets of London we made our way back to the tube and the hotel.
We had enjoyed every second of our trip to London. It is not as expensive as it was in the past - maybe less expensive than Switzerland in the meantime. It is a great city, with wonderful architecture and a lovely center. We loved the many individual coffee shops and restaurants and the many, many vegetarian and vegan options to eat and drink. This is heaven for us and we hope Switzerland will move forward on this matter very soon. But for now it was time to leave the city behind. A bus brought us to London Stansted from where we had another low cost flight back to Basel (for 16€ per person only).
We hope to come back to London soon.