London’s Very Own Venice
The British capital appears to be on a go all day with people hopping tubes and the iconic red buses, perpetually.
Discovering an oasis of tranquility amidst the great hustle came as a pleasant surprise to me. Wandering around the Paddington Station on a bright day, I happened to stumble upon this stunning stream of sparkling water full of houseboats. Yes, houseboats right in the heart of London and how incredible is that!
Walking a few yards from the hullabaloo of Praed Street to the willow tree lined canal seemed like sleep walking into another world altogether. This stream is the confluence of the Grand Union and Regent’s canal and marked by numerous cafes, pubs, restaurants and houseboats. London’s very own Little Venice seems to have popped out of a Shakespearean novel.
I found the canal fascinating in many ways. If you wish, settle down for a hot cup of coffee and cheesecakes at the water facing cafes and enjoy the serene sight. Or walk along the flow of the stream, outlined with willows and blooms, as it meanders into the city further. The other exciting idea is to hop on a canal boat or a waterbus (as it is called here) and start sailing. Period!
Going downstream from Little Venice, one gets to see the affluent Victorian style Maida Vale residential area that also houses BBC Maida Vale Studios. Even the Lords Cricket grounds are pretty close.
However, on heading upstream you cruise through the Regent’s Park, touching London Zoo and reaching the bustling Camden Lock market in 45 odd minutes.
As romantic as it may sound, the name ‘Little Venice’, however, has a disputed origin. Some credit poet Robert Browning, who lived here, with christening it so. While others claim that Lord Byron named it as Little Venice. Nonetheless, the place certainly is a miniature of the Italian island city.
Canal Café Theatre, known for its entertaining performances and the floating Puppet Theatre Barge are great attractions at the Little Venice.
I, unfortunately, could not experience both as it had began to fall dark and I had a long way to reach home. Promising myself to pay them a visit next time, I chose to walk down the footpath along the canal and enjoy the view closely.
There are not just the drooping trees and flowers that line the Regent’s Canal but also the medieval style footbridges and opulent villas on the either sides.
It is very natural for the pedestrians to take an envious glance towards the jaw-dropping waterfront houses. I was no exception
Upon entering the Regent’s Park, the serenity of the canal is slowly replaced by commotion coming from joggers, chit-chatting couples and giggling children. And you are back into the ‘busy big city’.
The canal touches the London Zoo located inside the Regent’s Park before heading to the Camden Lock Market.
The gorgeous park, too, complements the beauty of the water way and is a photographer’s delight. I walked along the stream, enjoying the colours and fragrances of a plethora of flowers. It was completely dark by now and I bid the Regent’s adieu only to return very soon.