Built on the rubble from centuries of London’s history, Canary Wharf is on the site of the famous West India Docks on the Isle of Dogs. ‘The Mayflower’ set sail for America in the early 17th century from one of these Docks and at the height of the Port of London’s activity in the 1960s, over 60 million tons of cargo was being shipped around the globe. Following its closure in the 1980s, unable to keep up with the advances in technology & containerisation, Canary Wharf rose from the ashes and is now one of the most important financial centres in the world.
There’s quite a continental cafe society feel to the area as there are lots of places to eat and drink, with little boutique shops alongside the famous name stores. Cabot Square is the scene of many exciting outdoor events and in winter there’s the Ice Rink – if you get there any time until mid January you’ll be able to trip the light fantastic across the ice – not literally hopefully! It’s just a few minutes’ walk from Cabot Square.
I was in Docklands once more for the World Travel Market2012, staying with Lynne Gray, Conscious Travel PR Specialist for a few days; you can read her article about WTM2012 here. It’s always a challenge to find decent accommodation in London and at this time everywhere is especially busy but we were fortunate to get a City Nites Apartment overlooking one of London’s most famous edifices, the pyramid-topped Canada Tower.
With a decent-sized lounge/kitchen and two spacious double bedrooms we were not only able to relax and enjoy the spectacular view but also have breakfast at leisure and do a bit of cooking when we weren’t eating out. bonus points for a very helpful concierge who sorted out our heating and the incredibly fast WiFi which is one of the things all bloggers love – top marks Central London Apartments!
Gazing into the heart of Canary Wharf at all the high-rise buildings it’s almost impossible to imagine the life that was there before – but Billingsgate Market is one of the few old buildings that takes you right back to a bygone era. The smell of the fish hits you well before you get here and there’s a hustle and bustle to it that almost defies description: Roger Barton, a local fishmonger talks about his daily routine here.
Travel around this part of London is really easy. As well as the Underground system the excellent Docklands Light Railway LDR is excellent and there are plenty of stations. BUT be warned; Canary Wharf Station is VAST and trying to find the right exit is more difficult than getting out of the Minotaur’s Labyrinth but what a vibrant and fascinating place it is. Towering overhead are futuristic skyscrapers and below the busy wheels of commerce turn relentlessly on, amidst designer shops, international restaurants, lively bars and plenty of waterside activity.
On the final day of WTM I took some time out to have a ride on London’s newest attraction, the Emirates Air Line Cable Car which goes from the Royal Victoria Docks and Excel Centre across the sinuous River Thames to the Greenwich Peninsula. What an exhilarating experience that was. The city of London streams out in all directions with famous landmarks popping up all over like an enormous 3D jigsaw puzzle. And between the spaceship prongs of the O2 Arena, Canary Wharf’s skycrapers thrust up into the blue sky proclaiming London’s metroland credentials for all to see …