London Travel Blog

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Changing of the Guard
Day 1:
I had a long ass sucky crappy miserable heinous smelly contageous accident-prome bomb-magnet leg shatteringly bad coffeee ...

  ... and an ok flight

Day 2:
I'm not one who enjoyes plane flights, nor am I one to sleep on the plane.  So on the dawn of this new day in London, I had no sleep.  However, I didn't sleep the night prior to the plane flight in hopes that I'd be tired enough to sleep on the flight -- that plan backfired.  So now, here I am in London going on 50+ hours of no sleep.

We took the Gatwick Express into London Victoria then headed out to see the sights with our full packs since our hotel was not too close to the city (I'll get into that more later).
Changing of the Guard
  We first saw the Westminster Abbey which was nice but not all that great.  It was very pretty but not too impressive.  However, if you go here, do not miss out on the garden and cloisteres hidden in the back outside.  They are very peaceful and not crowded like the rest of the Abbey. 

Now we were both exhausted, so we decided to head back to Ansell's B&B in Bishop's Stortford.  We stayed here since it was the only place reasonably priced since the entire trip to Europe was dreamt up in a coffeehouse a couple of weeks ago -- not much planning time.  The B&B was very nice and run by a wonderful and nice stewardess, Alexis.  The room had an incredibly comfortable bed, a full bathroom, and a DVD player (with DVD's).
Fish and Chips
  However, we were hungry.  So she sent us to the pub "Coach and Horses" for some good ole pub grub.   This being my first trip to the UK, I went with the classic fish-n-chips.  The fish was delicious; the chips were disgusting.  I was amazed that it was an entire cod fish with skin and all as opposed to our frozen and fried fish strips back home.  So we headed back to the B&B, started planning the next day, realized the big clock we saw was Big Ben; it is not nearly as impressive as you'd expect.  I was expecting this huge clock that towered over everything.  But if wandering through London, seeing the clock, deciding that it wasn't impressive enough for Big Ben only to find out later it was Big was kind of dissapointing.
London Bridge
  However, then it was time to (finally) pass out at 9 pm.

Day 3:
We woke up at 7am on our own volition, oddly enough.  We had a wonderful breakfast of OJ, milk and cereal, bananas, strawberries, coffee, toast and homemade jelly; it was very refreshing.  I'm not much of a morning person, but I did enjoy this breakfast.  But most importantly, I found banana nesquick powder which you add to milk to give it flavor.  I've had banana milk, but it's so expensive, so I looked for the powder, but the US doesn't have it.  I love the UK.  I love Tesco. 

Next we headed out to see the Changing of the Guards via St. James Park.  The park was pretty, but, again, I was expecting more of English parks.  I was surprised but there wasn't a crowd to be seen anywhere.  I did manage to find myself on national TV who was filming there for some reason.  One guard was great, he couldn't keep a straight face and actually greeted us with "cheers".  I didn't think they were supposed to talk, am I wrong? 
Next up, we went to Picadilly Circus.  Sadly, Circus doesn't mean dancing elephants and clowns, so we quickly headed away from London's Time Square and continued to Trafalgar Square.  I love Trafalgar's very peaceful there although crowded, so I can't really explain it.  There was also this cute little Boston Terrier who chased the mass of poor pidgeons who wanted no more than to mooch bread crumbs from poor, unsuspecting people like myself. 

That British Airways' London Eye was next up, so we went to buy ticketes.  However, the forecast for the evening was overcast and rainy, so we decided to wait until another day in the interest of a nice view.  Also, we couldn't find a cheap way to go to Stonehenge, so we decided to put that one off too.  So we took a 4 mile walk on the Queen's walk along the Thames River.  We stopped at the Globe Theatre which was really nice; I highly recommend enjoying the gate that they have although you have to stand up to see any play there.  We stopped at the remnants of Winchestor Castle which was neat since it was in this back alley.  However, there wasn't much remaining.  Nearby, a food mart had an incredible Chorizo and cheese baguette that I munched on for lunch.  There was much more random wandering where we saw the Southwork Cathedral.  And finally, at the end of the walk (or at least ours), we came to the London Bridge.  Our first impression: blue.  That bridge is blue -- very blue.  It's kind of ugly -- but grows on you.  We saw the bridge go up which was interesting to see although the best part was the alarm indicating it to go up and the loudspeaker absolutely terrifying this asian family.  We went up along the bridge which had an okay view although it was hard to take pictures.  I do hope that the London Eye offers a better view. 

Oh, there was a very nice display, "Earth from the Air" with great photography.  I highly recommend buying the book "366 days: Earth from the Air" (give or take) from Amazon for ~$20.  It has some neat pictures and focuses on social issues that the world faces although I mostly enjoy the pictures and reading about the places.  The display also had a huge map of the world that was on the ground that you could walk on.  It was interesting and a nice way to pass the time.

We continued on to the Tower of London, but it was getting late, so we didn't go in.  So next up, Harrod's!  I've heard such great things about the place even though I'm not very big on shopping.  I very much disliked Harrod's.  If you love shopping, name brands, or raw meat, you'll like Harrod's.  I will say that they have very nice bathrooms.  But aside from that, I'd have to pass.

On to...Buckingham Palace!  We didn't go in, but in the words of Shania Twain "that don't impress me much".  However ,Victoria's monument was interesting because those lion schulptures have really big balls.  We saw the Arch of Wellington, who defeated Napolean at Waterloo, on the way back to the Tube.  The Arch was kind of small really.  I think I just had this notion of London being a very grandiose city although it wasn't. 

That about ended this day, we saw a lot although not too much impressive.  The light rain was slightly annoying, so for those who haven't been, bring yourself a soft shell jacket.  It protects from the rain and the wind very nicely.  I was comfortable but my poor travel companion was anything but.  So we ended the day with a cafe mocha with chocolate flakes.  The day relaxing and oddly very good despite not being impressive.

Day 4:
So today we take the chunnel to Paris!  I was excited.  I always wanted to go in the chunnel.  However, first we have to get back from Bishop's Stortford to London.  By the way, the Rail One train has these ventilation windows that slam shut whenever another train passes -- it's terrifying.  No matter how I prepare myself, it always startles me and makes sleeping on the train difficult.  It was also interesting seeing a man put a plastic bag on the seat, and his dog just jump up, sit on the bag, and sleep the entire trip.  In the US, animals are not allowed to go anywhere.  I like the English way.  We talked to him some; he told us that many of the lakes we saw as we went by were caused by sand and gravel mining.  There are some strange, red, metal frames that look like they should be water towers although they are just a frame with nothing inside.  If you know what they are, I'd really love to know. 

So some English vocab for you...
boot = trunk
take away = to go
single = one way
bell = phone call
and you tip only if you receive extraordinary service

Anyway though, we had these free passes to "The Monument" since they were giving them away at the London Bridge the previous day.  So we decided to go -- I mean, it was free, afterall.  However, we had our luggage with us.  So we climbed up and down the 311 stairs with our 50 lb packs.  It was exhausting.  The view was nice; I wanted to pee.  I was disuaded however.  We got a certificate for having climbed the Monument though.  The Monument was built to commemorate the Great Fire of London in 1666.

Now we rush to the Portobello Market to find this great little Sausage and Mash place where you get to choose how many and what kind of sausage you'd like in your Mash(ed potatos).  I tried the Chicken & Red Pepper, Lamb & Mint, and Lincolnshire.  It was a very enjoyable meal; I love my mashed potatos.  However, we didn't have time to look at the market, but I'd recommend doing so if you ever visit because it did look interesting.  The Sausage and Mash place is at the end of the market, then a little further right past the overpass.  However, in fear of missing the train to Paris, we couldn't eat our meal.  So we ran back to the Tube to get to Waterloo and finally got on the Eurostar and at the damn good meal.  I'd highly recommend the Chicken and Red Pepper one myself. 

The Chunnel was interesting.  The train itself was incredibly luxurious.  However, any tunnel puts this incredible pressure on your ears as you go through it.  It wasn't a very pleasurable exprience.  The worst was the Chunnel itself where we reached the top speed and were underground for about 30 minutes.  Oh an interesting fact, there are only 3 hours of darkness / night in Britian although I actually never noticed since I was exhausted and slept through them myself.  However, on the Eurostar, I ran into a problem...the bathroom was confusing.  There is no handle to flush.  However, there are two pedals on the floor.  In case you're wondering, the left pedal flushes the toilet.  The right petal turns on the sink and splatters me as I'm trying to flush the toilet. 

Also, the ticketing for the train hasn't been perfected.  This really nice Middle Eastern guy couldn't find his seat, number 62.  Having seat 63, so you'd think he'd be near me.  However, there is no seat 62 -- poor guy.

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Changing of the Guard
Changing of the Guard
Changing of the Guard
Changing of the Guard
Fish and Chips
Fish and Chips
London Bridge
London Bridge
photo by: ulysses