We planned to start the day off early, but I was too lazy to get out of bed. I did woke up on time; however, I didn't necessarily got out of bed until just before the breakfast provided by the hotel ended. It was a little past 10am when Matt and I emerged out from each of our hotel room and out onto the streets of London. The weather was fantastic. Clear, sunny, skies with light cool breeze in London was an unexpected bonus of our short weekend visit. Great.
We were hungry and so we walked down Southamption Row in search of a place to eat breakfast. I craved the greasy, cholesterol-high breakfast. Healthy be damned! On the corner of a small alley, we saw a small hotel restaurant serving breakfast. Okay - we didn't care much about it and just got a table and eat.
The food was err... mediocre to be kind but at that time, we didn't care enough to actually care! After breakfast, we continued walking down to Holborn to Covent Garden. We walked around, got the feel of the very tourist-filled area before hopping on the tube to Notting Hill
. We didn't found any of the street markets open as we walked around Notting Hill, but the colorful houses on the neighborhood area reminds me of the colorful house on the hills of Valparaiso in Chile. Small boutiques and stores lines the streets, bursting with locals and tourists, enjoying the warm, spring season.
It was after 1pm when Matt and I reached Victoria tube station.
The plan: grab some food, walk to St. James Park, and have a mini-picnic to simply relax and enjoy the wonderful weather. After food shopping at Marks & Spencer, we walked out with the following: 2 salmon sandwiches, 2 bottles of water, 2 small bottles of wine (500ml?), 1 orange/mango smoothie, 1 strawberry/orange smoothie, 1 cup of mango fruit, 1 cup of mixed fruits, 1 chocolate mousse, and 1 caramel custard. Total: 22 British pounds (approx. US $44)!!! Each with a bag in hand, we walked up to Buckingham Palace
, past Victoria Plaza and found an area in St. James Park under the shade of a tree. Matt was ecstatic to finally drink wine.
I dove for the sanwich and water. We talked, observed the people tanning and having a picnic of their own, and checked out any good-looking guys for me and hot girls for Matt. We did found one guy. And when his friend arrive, they played football and almost hit me! What the heck! Matt snickered. And I turned to Matt with a disappointed look - he turned out not to be so good-looking up close. Yup! Better that he stay away and stay good looking. ^_^
The time passed by quickly because the next thing we knew, it was half past 3. It was time to walk around again - and as we walk towards Westminister Bridge to London Eye, we needed a pit stop and we ended up in a pub which means a pit stop with a beer stop. An hour and a pint and a half later, we finally left the bar as they were closing down for the day.
We reached Westminster Abbey, and walked past it to the Parliament and Clock Tower to the Westminister Bridge. We saw an ice cream truck and got ourselves "99" - according to Matt, a British ice cream composed of a wafer cone, vanilla cream topped with a stick of chocolate. Why it is called 99, I have no clue and apparently neither does Matt. We also found an ice cream truck with the sign "Never Licked, Always Beaten". Hahaha... Yeah.. How else were we going interpret it? And this, after just teasing each other about being a licker and a biter (related to how we ate our respective ice cream)? We were two hysterical people crossing the Westminster Bridge. I could've sworn people were giving us weird looks.
After we crossed the bridge, another pit stop was needed and since we were an hour and half early (scheduled ride for London Eye was 8PM), Matt was again looking for beer.
So, we looked for a bar in the area, and with Matt's keen eyesight and heightened sense for pubs and bars, we found All Bar One. A pint for each of us and a shared burger later, we met up with Heather and her family with Hendrik and Lena at the entrance of the London Eye. We zipped through the line as Heather had befriended one of the security guys who was American while waiting for us. And on we went to one of the bubble. All hell broke loose with photo taking as everyone, including yours truly, busted out cameras and began taking pictures. Through the whole 30 minutes of the ride, we took pictures. The sun was still bright - it was only 730p - plenty of sunshine to see the views. Along the River Thames are numerous bridges that connects London and a great view of the Parliament and Clock Tower from above.
St. Paul's Cathedral can be seen as well.
At the end of the ride, we walked across to the Jubilee Bridge and said our good byes to Hendrik and Lena who has a 2am flight that morning. I'll be seeing Hendrink and I am sure, Lena, as well when I go to Hamburg at the end of May. We then had dinner at this Italian restaurant, Prezzo (?), just across from Trafalgar Square. While I went to the restroom, Heather's mom apparently asked Matt how long we have known each other. According to Matt, she was surprise to know we've only known each other for a couple of weeks. What can I say, Matt and I hit it off as friends. I wonder what Heather's mom really thinks.... Hmmm.. have to ask Heather about that.
It was a Sunday night, and after a whole day of activity, Matt and I got on to the tube and back to the hotel.
Wow! A day without taking a cab. Again, we headed straight to the hotel bar for our nightly shot of vodka chased with lemonade and gin and tonic. It was only 1130pm when we were notified that the bar will be closing. What?!? Already??? So we decided - ROOM SERVICE! So, we called for room service from Matt's room. One order of chicken-parmesan panini, grey goose vodka with orange juice for me, and one double gin and tonic for Matt. While we wait, I took the opportunity to give myself a mini-tour as I never got the chance to see his room after we checked in. His room is similar in size as mine except the layout of the furnishings is different. For one, his bed is facing the door and his bathroom has two floor-to-ceiling doors! The doors led to the balcony but are locked and with frosted glass. Our order arrived and the panini was surprisingly good. All warm and cheesy! Yum-yum! It was 2am when we said good night and off to sleep for tomorrow's plans - BRIGHTON and DINNER at Momo's! [pictures to be posted later]