Reasons to go to Crystal Palace:
#1: The Crystal Palace Market - very delicious burgers.
#2: How else to amuse your stroppy boyfriend on a Sunday?
#3: Beautiful city views where you can see the Shard, Gherkin and Walkie Talkie all at once (if you look hard enough)
#4: An outdoor ampitheatre with a lily pond in front of it
#5: (unseen) all the really cool antiques shops we found selling old Eames furniture
#6: No one gets annoyed when you make fun of the gammy old statues
#7: There's an old Victorian maze you can get really, really lost in.
I was a little bit sad that the skeleton of the old building wasn't still there - I knew it had burnt down but I had hoped the metal structure would still be there. It has such a cool history, and the scale of it is quite breathtaking - it's a bit like the Victorians building a Westfield shopping mall, in 1851, to show products and wonders from all over the world in the pre-internet age when no-one here would ever have seen anything like it. It would have been mind-blowingly amazing to visit.
Anyway, despite its sheer size, it only stayed in Hyde Park for a year for the exhibition before they moved the whole thing to Sydenham. Once it moved it was used for circuses, concerts, exhibitions, flower shows and even military training during WW1. There's a free exhibition all about it in a little house near the park. It had this really sad story about an elephant who tried to escape from the circus, and had to be shot by his keeper - you can read it
Even though the ghost of the building is gone, there are still lots of great Victorian pubs in the area, and some cracking vintage shop-cum-cafe-cum-pubs. The amazing view down to the city is pretty special too.
If that's not enough for you, we also saw some beach volleyball going on, and there are some weird plaster dinosaurs you can go and visit, and if you're an old man with a lame hobby, you can go
to indulge it.
All in all, a pretty interesting place. I could even be tempted to broaden my fantasy property search to include Crystal Palace - you never know, right?