London for the day!

London Travel Blog

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My exact thoughts when I stepped out of the Piccadilly Tube Station were: "Hell Yes, I'm in LONDON!"

On the Thursday I went, I was assuming that I wouldn't get another opportunity in the near future to look around, so I basically just tried to see everything I could think of! I think this tactic worked quite well, I saw all the iconic symbols of London and had a few nice surprises along the way. My method of tourism is this: forgot my guidebook at home, was too cheap to buy a tourist map, didn't remember to read up on London before I went. So I spun in a circle, picked a direction and started walking (it also helps to follow gift shops, they tend to make a trail of keyrings and Union Jacks between the touristy spots).
As a result, I walked around Piccadilly for a while, looking at theatres and old buildings, giggling at the occasional passing double-decker or policeman.

By pure luck, or maybe I was a local in a past life, I ended up in St James Park. This gave me the option of walking one direction to Buckingham Palace, or alternatively to Trafalgar Square. I chose Trafalgar purely because I happened to be closer to that end of the Mall. It was pretty cool, though I didn't have any Mary Poppins flashbacks (apart from humming feed the birds...) and was guiltily disappointed at the lack of pigeons. Still, pigeons are gross and probably would have shat on me so I'm not devastated.

From Trafalgar, after a proper amount of 'ohhing' and 'ahhing' at the big lions and the Museum (which I didn't enter due to a strong aversion borne of culture-freak parents), I walked down to Parliament House and Westminster Abbey. Big Ben is cool! Thankfully, most things that you have seen a million times before are still way better in real life.  On the way down I passed the Guard Palace where they were doing the  changing ceremony  with the horses and the fluffy hats but I was on the wrong side of a road which is impossible to cross so that was a bit disappointing.

I decided to walk down along Parliament House to take more photos (and get a loser look at the hippies camped in the park across the road, protesting war I believe) and then would cross the road and look at the Abbey. I got about halfway down when the sky opened up and it began to POUR.
Not polite, English drizzle, this was like being sprayed with a hose. Unpleasant! And of course there was absolutely no where remotely sheltered within 100m of me. I do accept some responsibility for going to London without any wet weather gear, but in my defense it was a lovely day! So I am huddled against a wall with my handbag on my head when it lightens slightly, so I make a break for a doorway across the street (as did everyone else in the vicinity) when I think, 'why is someone throwing (proverbial) shit at me'? Then I realise it is HAIL. AUSTRALIA DOES NOT HAVE SUNSHINE AND HAIL IN THE SAME DAY. I think that in the 4 years I have lived in Perth, it hailed maybe twice. This country is mad, no wonder Brits are obsessed with the weather.

So I hurried back past Westminster, which was all fenced off so I didn't bother finding out if I could go inside, would have been packed anyway.
I was going to head for the London Eye; then I get a call from my would-be guide to meet him at the nearest tube station. This needs a bit of explaining. Seb was supposed to drive to the outermost tube station, park and both of us go into London. Due to a spirited discussion in the car on the M11, we missed the exit and ended up on something exotically named the London Orbital. This is a bad plan, driving in London is a Bad Plan. So he dropped me at Finsbury Station and I headed to the centre alone. Anyway, he got in touch so we agreed to meet at Westminster, and the weather was still horrible anyway, so I passed the time in the Parliamentary Bookshop reading about the worlds' most famous speeches (my only objection was to the inclusion of George Bush, who should be actively excluded from everything). Then, after several phone calls describing our position in relation to Big Ben, we met up and the vote was: Lunch!

Getting on the tube in Westminster (still pouring) and then getting off at Leicester Square and stepping into blazing sunshine is a weird experience (Perth doesn't have an Underground ok!).
We had Pizza from a Slicery, another thing Perth lacks, and went for a wander in the Square. I did make a bit of a fool out of myself because I saw some British TV stars (Syd and Chris from Skins) and I just had to go up and introduce myself and ask for a photo! Haha!

From there we walked to Covent Gardens, which I really enjoyed! I saw the massive tea shop, was tempted t buy some but I couldn't justify the expense expecially since my mum packed me off to France with a lifetime supply of tea (Not enough TimTams though!!). So we just browsed, watched some busking and browsed some more. Then we had to get back on the tourist trail to Buckingham and Hyde Park. There were no Beefeaters on guard at Buckingham but it was still quite cool, very crowded though, so it was decided Hyde Park might be nicer.
Definitly was, man that place is BIG. Since it was quite close, Seb suggested I experience Harrods. Oh. My. God. I have never salivated so much in my life. It was absolutey delicious, but considering I could afford one jelly bean (from the section where they have them, separated by colour of course) it was also slightly depressing. I think I had to be forciby removed from the chocolate section.

By this time I think it was after 5pm and we were running out of time. So it was on the Tube to St Pauls. Best tip for London: if you wait until the yuppie coffee shops are about to close, they sometimes discount food! We got half price sandwiches, 2 pounds for 2! Probably having the cheapest meal anyone ever had in London.

From St Pauls we crossed the now stable, Millenium Bridge to Tate Modern. I was very annoyed that we got there right on closing! I have heard great things about the TM Collection so that sucked.
Still, I refuse to complain because I do concede that you can't see everything in one day, had a pretty good shot at it though! From Tate Modern we wandered down the river to the Tower Bridge (with a mandatory stop at Starbucks) and watched the begining of sunset over London. Ahhh. This was definitly an amazing day.

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World Vision thing in Trafalgar
World Vision thing in Trafalgar
blending in...
blending in...
Hippies outside Parliament
Hippies outside Parliament
this is for emilys benefit!
this is for emilys benefit!
photo by: ulysses