Teary farewells...

London Travel Blog

 › entry 25 of 45 › view all entries

Ok, so like I was saying… Got the painfully long bus ride form Paris to London, and it was a really sad ride knowing that this was Justin’s last stop. We tried to figure out what sights he could fit in in the 2 days that he was going to spend there before flying home. It’s really weird spending every minute of your time with someone for 3 and a half months, you get so used to them being there all the time…

We arrived at 7am, very sleepy but wanting to take on the city straight away. Went to Buckingham Palace first, I had read that the change of guard is “entertaining”… After waiting for over an hour, finally the horses rode up. Then nothing. About half an hour later, 2 guards marched out and changed places with the 2 guards that were there who then marched away and disappeared. That was it. I found out later that over the off season they only do the big song and dance every second day, so we wasted over 2 hours of our lives for nothing. Oh well, lesson learned. Didn’t bother to go back again to try again, I figured that I’ll probably screw up and get the wrong day and waste more of my life, and to be honest, it really doesn’t sound that spectacular. Maybe next time I’m in London.

Did all of the requisite sights, the London Eye, aaaallllllllll the bridges across the Thames, the amazingly unimpressive London Bridge which was completely overshadowed by the stunning Tower Bridge, Blackfriars Bridge, you get the drift, bridges, bridges, bridges. Stood out like complete tourists by taking so many pictures of double decker buses, little red phone booths and black cabs, and of course Big Ben… Checked out Buckingham Palace Gardens where they have some beautiful war memorials for Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians, and heaps of others, and then trekked over to Hyde Park to sit in the sun and have some lunch and feed the ducks and geese. Or were they swans??? Hmmm… Can’t remember. When we were walking back through the park there were squirrels everywhere running around. I’ve never seen a squirrel before, so as usual was a little over-excited and acting like a child. I had some peanuts in my bag so got them out and tried to bribe the squirrels over, and what do you know, squirrels love peanuts. So I sat for the longest time feeding them, they were soooooo cute. Strangest tails I’ve ever seen though. Anyway… Rambling cos I’m excited again!

Baaaaaaaahahahaha… Near Buckingham Palace, when you go to cross the street you have all kinds of different pedestrian lights… There’s the standard one for people, then the pretty common cyclist one, but then there’s also another one for people on horseback. It was hilarious. Just thought I’d share that.

That night we had drinks in the bar after cooking a meal, nothing out of the ordinary.

The next day, we first went to check out the Imperial War Museum. It is a fantastic place, loads of interesting history about pretty much every war ever fought, and a huge section on genocide in history and big humanitarian missions too. Really interesting stuff. If you’re ever in London…

Spent the rest of the day just meandering around, hanging out and getting Justin’s stuff ready for him to leave the next morning. He had a really early flight so we had to figure out how to get to Gatwick airport in time, and the local tube line doesn’t start running til 6am. He finally got everything packed and ready, and we cooked one last dinner together before finishing the night off with loads of beer and then bed so we could actually wake up to our alarms at 5am. Ugh.

5am is a ridiculous time on any side of the world, but I wanted to go to the airport to say goodbye. So, rushed around and got ready in the morning ready to get into the tube station as soon as it opened, then got the first train to Victoria Station so we could get the express train to Gatwick. We were both half asleep for the whole trip, so it wasn’t that tortuous I guess, more hazy (not helped by all the beer from the night before). By the time we got there and had him checked in there wasn’t much time before boarding, so we dragged out a very teary goodbye for as long as we could before he disappeared into those big doors. Airports are kind of depressing like that… Everywhere you go there’s people crying and having to say sad goodbyes.

It was really tough saying goodbye to Justin. We built such a strong friendship over the 3 months that we spent travelling, we went to so many amazing places together and share a lot of fantastic memories.

I think that all in all we travelled 17 countries together over a little over 3 months. Together with Andrew we had an amazing White Christmas in Switzerland, partied our asses off in France for New Years, danced at a Flamenco club in Spain and played beer pong in Italy. With Reuben we stayed in a cave and then a treehouse, lay on beaches and got caught in thunderstorms, and saw soooo many Roman ruins in Turkey, then hung out on a Greek Island before doing a whirlwind tour of Athens. We found turtles in Croatia, built my first snowman in Kosovo, walked the Tunnel in Bosnia, made the endless climb to the castle in Montenegro, wandered the markets of Morocco, and were dumbstruck by the Eiffel Tower. I could go on forever, you know how incredibly talented I am when it comes to rambling, but basically, we just had some amazing experiences together and I was glad to have a friend there to share them with. Hence the big teary farewell at the airport!

Once Justin was gone, I spent the day just exploring the city on my own, lay by the Thames for a while in the sun reading the paper and relaxing and then went to meet up with a friend from home who’s living in London when he finished work for the day since he‘s kindly offered me a place to stay. Went out partying with him and his mates at night, had a blast. Partying with a local is always good, cos they always know the best places to go in town. The next week was a blur of sightseeing and partying, London has some amazing things to see, and a bunch of free museums. I don’t know how many museums I saw, some of the most amazing things that I saw were in the British Library… The Magna Carta, Handel’s Messiah, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, the original scribbles of Beatles lyrics like Help, Yesterday, I wanna Hold Your Hand, so many more… The Gutenburg Bible, Da Vinci’s notebooks, Darwin, Shakespeare‘s first Folio, this is another one of those times I could go on forever, I won’t bore you with the rest, but most days I went back to the library for another look (what a geek, hanging out in the library every day!) . The British Museum was really cool too, the Rosetta Stone, the controversial Parthenon Marbles, history from around the world. I went to Piccadilly Circus, hung out in Soho, and went on my own little excursions right around the city. Their tube system is great, you can get pretty much anywhere without getting lost. Found some funky markets and some other really cool areas where you can walk around and around and around.

Finally I figured that if I didn’t leave soon I was going to stay in London forever, so booked a ticket to Dublin. I still hadn’t managed to catch up with the ever travelling Scott since when I turned up he was in Estonia, so I knew I’d have to come back anyway. Left most of my luggage at Ian’s place (woohoo) and made a very poor attempt at making my way to Luton airport. I was running a little late (yes, of course I had another big night despite knowing that I had a flight to catch the next day) but was going to get the fast train so should have been able to just sneak in, but when I got to the station no trains were running because of a fatality on the tracks. Ugh. After a couple of hours delay I finally got a train out there and had to pay an extra 50 quid just to get onto the next flight. Ugh. I must’ve sat at the airport for 4 hours or so, it was incredibly boring sitting all by myself so I spent most of the time walking around in circles until I could finally board. Oh well… At least it was a short flight. Figured I’d have a nice peaceful night in Dublin, relax and write in my journal… Will it happen??? Find out in the next episode… Ooooh, the suspense!

Love ya all.



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photo by: ulysses