Tokyo Tower

It’s December 1st and it was a lovely sunny warm but fresh 16 degrees in Tokyo. I decided to head out for a walk around Tokyo Tower. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while and it was really a beautiful day out.

I started from Hamamatsucho (浜松町) just 15 minutes walk to the East of Tokyo Tower. While Tokyo Tower is a major tourist attraction the surrounding area is to a certain extent  a business district. Due to that I was lucky enough to find a few really nice independent coffee shops that were quite quiet due to it being a Saturday.Read More »

Cities – same, but different

Do you live or work in a city? What do you see on your day to day trip to work?

Last night after work I walked from my client office towards St. Pauls with a colleague. As we were walking I remarked, “doesn’t London have some amazing architecture?”. My colleague; originally from Bulgaria, replied that he loved the area.

This is the view we had:

London is an unusual place. It is a city. And a lot of people live here. But it doesn’t have big wide streets. And it doesn’t have one architectural style. From street to street you see a huge variety of design.

I lived in Moscow for a year and I remember the 6 lane roads that run through the city.

Or walking around Pudong in Shanghai the sheer size and scale of the new towers are remarkable.

More and more I realise how much the layout and architecture of a city influence the feeling of day to day life.

One special thing about London is that you can walk around most of the famous sights in half a day. From baker street and regent park down to oxford street, along to Hyde Park, then back to piccadilly, down to Westminster, along the south bank to tower bridge and up through the city to shoreditch.

Compare that to Tokyo. To visit many of the sights you can use the Yamanote line. But just to go around the Yamanote line once would take an hour on the train.

One of the things I love about London is how easy it is to stroll around and enjoy the buildings. The mix of new and old. I think you have to be proud of our strict planning permission that’s kept the number of eyesores under relatively good control.

Nothing illustrates the beauty of old and new design coming together than the view of the city sitting to the north of tower bridge. And beautifully framed we can see my favourite of the modern buildings in London – 30st. Mary Axe aka ‘The Gherkin’ / ‘Swss Re’

And below two favourites together, just to the left we can see the exterior of Lloyds – the original concept of Lloyds was having all the ‘functional’ parts of the building visible. It’s got such an industrial ‘futuristic’ vibe.

What is the architecture like in your city? Would you change it if you could?

Zurich – A Hidden Gem

This last Wednesday I had an overnight trip out to Zurich for a business workshop. It was a 4.30 am start, but totally worth it.

The reason I love travel so much is the joy of having a change every day. Even a business trip is an opportunity to meet new people, try local food and if lucky have enough time for a stroll at the end of the day.

The Zurich trip was busy, but I managed to fit in an hour long photo walk around the old town area between eight and nine pm.

Tower Bridge

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Stately stone towers,
Stand over the Thames river,
Watching years go bye.

An iconic sight,
That sighs when misguided types,
Say “it’s London Bridge”.

Remember ’Tower’;
London’s majestic lady,
And favourite Bridge.

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Tower bridge; often mistaken for London bridge, is one of the most popular sights of London. The bridge itself is extremely central just south of the city and right next to the Tower of London; from which it takes it’s name.

Standing on the south side you can see the shiny modern glass buildings of the city through the bridge; what a contrast.

When you get up close you can also see the beautiful detail of the stone and metalwork.

I included a few haiku that I wrote. I was trying to think of a good metaphor or simile for the bridge, but I couldn’t come up with anything concrete.

When I think of the bridge, I think of it being over 120 years old, and I think of how it must feel watching all these modern glass buildings grow around it. At one point it would have been the tallest thing in the area, but now it’s dwarfed by behemoths like the shard.

And most days it’s constantly photographed by tourists, I suspect the bridge is ‘bemused’ with modern life.