In the dog days of summer, with the city sweltering in a cloud of heat, it’s nice to spend a few minutes in the shade of a green, leafy park. Like a little cool oasis in the heart of a city, these places offer an escape from the heat and the relentless hustle that is modern life. I happened upon just such an oasis on my recent visit to London.
In fact, it was an accident. Looking for Hyde Park one day, I took a wrong turn and ended up in another one of the city’s royal parks, called the Green Park. Here, just metres from the busy downtown traffic, was a quiet little refuge, almost a world to itself. And as soon as I stepped inside, it was easy to see where it got its name.
Heading down a pretty walkway lined with huge trees, I could see grassy meadows and patches of green forest stretching into the distance. And even though it was a city park, there were no fancy flower beds. The reason? According to local legend, the wife of King Charles II had all the plantings removed back in the 17th century after she caught the king in the park, picking flowers for another woman. This being London, they’ve stuck with the tradition for more than 300 years – and I’m glad they did.
I enjoyed my walk through the Green Park. But the peace and quiet didn’t last long. Nearing the end of the walkway. I could hear band music being played in the distance. Curious, I followed the crowd down another pathway to find Buckingham Palace, and the spectacle you see in the photo below. I had blundered into the changing of the guard. From green to red, peace and quiet to noise and excitement, all in 10 minutes – there’s travel for you.
Hint: click on the photos to see them full-size.