Member's Enchanting Moment - London
Mr Velu, think of this vacation club as an investment for the future, supposes your kids go abroad for studies, and then you don’t have to worry about accommodation when it comes to their graduation!” It was a bit of a sweet fantasy to ponder upon, but those very words that were uttered to me when I chose to sign up for the Palace Vacation Club back in 2002, has always been ringing in my head. And what do you know, 9 years later, I am on a flight to Heathrow Terminal 3 with the rest of my family eagerly anticipating the sight of my son adorning his graduation robes.
PVC had just signed a new contract with Bezier Apartments, and having not travelled to the UK, I was clueless on what to anticipate. Sure the pictures online looked fantastic, and PVC has never let us down in terms of accommodation, but as family leader I guess it’s my duty to be worried. After a gruelling 18 hour travel from KLIA to Heathrow, I was so glad to finally see my son after nearly a year. After a slight debate on how to get to Bezier with our entire luggage, my son offered to travel there using the London Underground, claiming it will be an ‘authentic’ experience. To get to Bezier from Heathrow is pretty easy, just take the Piccadilly line from terminal 3, get to London King’s Cross, and switch to the Northern Line, Bank branch. The apartment is located right above the Old Street station. We however, opted to take a cab from Kings Cross, reluctant to change lines with our entire luggage!
The apartment was quite frankly fantastic. It was beyond what I had initially anticipated. I am no design connoisseur, but my family and I just loved the sheer elegance of its interior and furnishing. Thanks to a well appointed kitchen, we had no trouble with food, which was the biggest appeal for me and my son who was craving for some Malaysian food badly! And the view from the rooftop terrace was simply amazing, especially at night. But with temperatures dipping into single digits, we were more than happy to get cosy indoors, under the wraps. With this being my first trip to London, I had my boy assume full responsibility on our tour of the city. And there onwards began our trek across the home of Big Ben and the Queen.
London in that week was like being thrown into a tumble dryer with London themed souvenirs, to Rolling Stone anthems, like Satisfaction. All we do is get out of the apartment about 12 noon, and we do not return home till about 7-8pm. It was every bit as dreamy, curious, vivid, and wonderful as I imagined. Be it rolling on autumn leaves in Green Park, or sharing the richest waffle my family had ever had behind the London Eye, taking pictures with a Scotsman on Westminster’s bridge, or just blinded by the colourful arrays of Christmas lighting on Piccadilly. There was just too much to see. We jumped from train to train on the London Underground, or the Tubes, as they call it here. And all the while my boy and I make sure that the convoy stays together. The last thing we need are petrified Malaysians lost in one of the busiest cities in the world! A couple of things stay etched forever in me though! One is the mildly irritating climb my son made us do to the top of Greenwich hill. But upon reaching the top, it all became clear. London as far as the eye can see, from Canary Warf onwards. I felt nothing could top that, till we were asked to steer away from the Greenwich tube station and onto the Thames Clippers Pier. Think of them as Rajang Riverboats, only with more Londoners.
At dusk, with the sunlight still lingering in the sky and the lights impatiently come on, the ferry takes us into central London via the Thames. And what a sight it was! Viewing a light up London from this side of the city was simply amazing. But the real icing was when the ferry went under Tower Bridge. For most of us we know it simply as London Bridge, but in actuality its called Tower Bridge. And oh my god was it a sight to behold at sundown! I highly recommend everyone who visits London to do this journey. One other thing that was really fun to do was take a ride on the Double Decker. You get a commanding view of your surroundings, while the bus patiently inches along traffic. The bus we chose took us from Kings Cross to Knightsbridge. Along the way it took us via Oxford Circus, shopper’s paradise. I was glad I could enjoy a first class view of the entire street from the top floor of a Double Decker. The ladies however, didn’t share my enthusiasm! Knightsbridge is considered to be one of the more upmarket regions of London, but the place to be; besides the two museums’ is Harrods. The shear glamour, glitter, brands, and hideous price tags were indeed a sight.
London was truly a harmony of the old and new. On one side you have the Victorian houses, endless museums and galleries, Tower Bridge and London Cabs. On the other hand, you had the Shard, the Gerkin, the O2 arena, Canary Warf, where a mini car show with some of the most exotic supercars on display promoting a supercar club was nothing but a regular Tuesday, was spearheading London’s addiction to modernism and eccentricity. It’s this conflictive harmony that results in a kaleidoscope of sights and sounds in central. For instance, Trafalgar Square, where inside the National Gallery fine pieces of Van Gogh and Monet is showcased, outside street dancers and roller-skaters entertain the same audience. One minute we are in the Victorian and Albert Museum earnestly detailing feudal Japan’s Samurai Armour, the next minute my niece and son are fighting for the last bite on a foot long sausage he bought at the Winter Wonderland at Hyde’s Park. Not a step was on the wrong side in London, as every wrong turn only provided us with an unexpected surprise.
After covering a good portion of central London on foot, we were both knackered and yet happy. The most amazing thing about London is, that all you need to move about is get a day ticket at the Underground station which only costs about RM35 per person. That ticket is useable on all trains, buses (which are no more than 10 minutes away from one another), allowing us to jump from various buses and trains to our fancy, and gives you a 30% discount for the Thames Clippers. Every attraction is within reach of a tube station or buses, and most Museums and attractions are free. Best of all, PVC’s Bezier allows you to feel right at home, and after a quick run into the Sainsbury downstairs, we enjoyed fresh home cooked meals every single day. Although we barely had time to cover so many other attractions, inching London one step at a time for a week allowed me to live a long time dream.
Once upon a time, London was but distant dream for me. But thanks to PVC, I look through almost 800 pictures and smile with glee, knowing that it was indeed a fantastic trip. But what really was the ultimatum for us, was to be able to be there when our son graduated. What I was told the day I signed up had finally become a reality. And that is something I could never put a price tag on.
Valusamy a/l Kandasamy