London, the 1st Afternoon

London Travel Blog

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My first day in London actually started out further north in the Peak District, waking up in Baslow. I caught a morning bus to Sheffield and then picked up a train to London King’s Cross Station. I didn’t arrive at Platform 9 ¾, however, for you Harry Potter fans.

My first impression of London was that it is an extremely fast and busy city, which I expected considering its size, population, and stature in the world. I have a pretty fair sense of direction and general ease in getting around, so I quickly learned where I was and where I had to be and caught the tube down to the London Bridge station.
Tonight was going to be my very first experience in a hostel.

The hostel was a short walk from London Bridge station, which would become my jumping off point for the next 2 days. I checked in, and immediately turned around and left. With only 2 days in London I had to be sure to see as much of the city as I could. I had no agenda or itinerary, but figured the Westminster tube stop was as good a place to start as any. Clearly I was rewarded for my not-as-impressive as I initially thought moment of clarity as I stepped out of the tube and was greeted by the Parliament building. A quick look skyward revealed the clock tower, in whose belly sits Big Ben. A walk across Westminster Bridge, a glance over at the London Eye, and then a walk back toward Parliament yielded the typical tourist pictures.

I then followed signs to Westminster Abbey.
I think my mother will be terribly disappointed in me for not going inside Westminster Abbey, but my level of interest in going into such attractions is moderate, at best, and non-existent when I’d have to pay for it. But, I wandered around the outside and then decided I might as well head over to Buckingham Palace. I had little interest in actually seeing Buckingham Palace but, like Big Ben, it seems to be a place to see simply out of obligation to a first-time London visit. So I wandered over that way, passing through St. James’s Park, walking down the mall, and stopping at the Queen Victoria Memorial. And Buckingham Palace lived up to my very low expectations for what it would be like to see it.
From Buckingham Palace I decided a trek over to Hyde Park was in order. As if I hadn’t done enough walking throughout the day I chose to do a little bit more. I walked toward Speaker’s Corner, took in some of the green space of London, saw a giant statue of Achilles, then headed back toward Buckingham Palace and the mall.
Vikram says:
Yeah, W Abbey is nice for a visit inside, but I really enjoyed the guided tours in the Houses of Parliament.
Posted on: Sep 16, 2009
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By the time the evening had set in I had already seem most of the attractions I had wanted to see, or at least felt obligated to see. It was time to do my favorite kind of exploring: Wandering aimlessly. I had a ticket in-hand to see the Lion King that evening at the Lyceum Theatre. But I still had a few hours to kill, so what better way than to find a good place for dinner and see more of the city along the way.

I took a stroll through Trafalgar Square and stopped to take a few pictures, relax for a little bit, and people watch. I also knew from what little pre-trip research I had done that Trafalgar Square was really close to Leicester Square, so I made the short trek there to find countless eating opportunities and even more people watching enjoyment.
I wandered around Charing Cross for a little while before making my way back to Leicester Square for my dinner. I had not yet seen the Lyceum Theatre, but was confident in my ability to stumble across it at some point, so I didn’t feel rushed.
I had a very tasty dinner, and an even tastier dessert. As I anticipated I found the Lyceum Theatre without any worry and in plenty of time. I left myself way too much time between dinner and the theatre, which is a problem that comes with wandering aimlessly, and ended up waiting quite a while until the show started.

After the Lion King let out I walked across Waterloo Bridge and then walked the southern shore of the River Thames back past the London Eye and back across Westminster Bridge to get a view of the Parliament, Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey lit up at night.
I don’t know how well those pictures turned out, but I tried. I then jumped back on the tube at Westminster station and returned to London Bridge. I wandered out across London Bridge to get a look at the city and to get a somewhat distant view of the Tower Bridge. I then headed back to the hostel, had a beer, lounged for a bit chatting with a few folks, and then headed off to bed.

All-in-all, a busy and satisfying first day and night in London. Only one more day and night left for me in London, but I figure that it’s a city that I’d have to spend a few months or years in to fully appreciate anyway, and whether I stayed for 2 nights or 12 nights was really immaterial.
Tora79 says:
So... did you like the Lion King? I thought you had decided on a different one?
Well glad you are having a good time. :)
Posted on: Sep 06, 2009
cja17 says:
Glad to hear you're enoying your trip. Apologies for the crap weather, everything being stupidly expensive and the total absence of a customer care ethos. Good luck...
Posted on: Sep 05, 2009
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London
photo by: ulysses