Day 2: London
London Travel Blog› entry 2 of 7 › view all entries
This morning our entire group (Tracy, Valerie, Jacob, Jonathan and I) headed off to London via Eurostar Express. EE is the high speed train that gets one to London in only 2.5 hours, going through the Chunnel in the process.
The train ride was rather uneventful except for our required running to get on the train due to my poor planning. I had not brought with me the credit card I'd used to purchase the tickets months ago and so the agent had to cancel that order and reissue new tickets for security.
We got to London on schedule and decided the best way to spend our limited time in the city was to hop on the Original London Bus tours (on double decker buses!). Before we did that though, there was the little matter of venturing to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guard. There was a free tour beginning near Trafalgar Square that would walk us over to the Palace and explain interesting bits of history along the way. For 30 minutes we searched for the "start" point of the tour and could never find it. Having given up on the free tour, we sought directions to the Palace from a local and headed over there ourselves.
By lunchtime we were ready to eat some authentic English food. That meant fish and chips of course in our quick-to-stereotype-English-cuisine American minds. Dropped into a local pub, ordered fish and chips all around and quite enjoyed it. Except for the mushy peas; I like to masticate my own food thank you very much.
After lunch we headed back to Trafalgar Square to catch a tour bus. Easy enough. The bus tour took us on a whirlwind trip around London. This day was really about quantity sightseeing more than quality as there was no time to stop at any of the sights or go in for tours if applicable. Still, we managed to see a good bit of historical and socially relevant sights in just 3 hours. And we must have crossed every bridge over the Thames river at least twice. My favorite site was Westminster Abby and the Parliament buildings. So beautiful! It was quite cold on the bus (especially since we wandered up to the top deck for a better view) as England was experiencing quite an arctic front.
Once the bus tour was over we wandered through Piccadilly Circus (circus means round) and found a red telephone booth that Tracy and I thought was perfect for trying to cram as many people from our group as possible into for silly photo taking purposes. However, the rest of our group was ready to move on so we never did get to exercise our right to be ridiculous. Jacob remembered that Harrods's dept store was having an amazing sale and he wanted to go. Having seen everything I had wanted in London I thought it was only fair to let other members of our group have a vote. So off to the department store we went. It was a madhouse! I've never seen so many people in one store before. The checkout line must have been hours long.
For dinner we decided to stick close to the train station (the famous Harry Potter train station btw!) so we'd easily catch our train. We wandered down a promising street just a few blocks from the station and saw an eye-catching Italian eatery. I know you might not believe me when I tell you what happened next but I have witnesses! We walked into the restaurant and asked for a table and when the manager/owner told us there was no seating I pointed to a table that had enough seating for the 5 of us around it and asked if it was reserved.
After dinner we caught the last train back to Paris, putting us back in the city just before midnight. A long day behind us, we metro'd back to our hotel and hit the beds, as we knew we were rendezvousing quite early in the morning to go to Versailles for the day.