London: The Metropolitan City

London Travel Blog

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October 20th, 2009 - October 22nd, 2009

I came to London expecting very little after my previous trips here, but it sure did surprise me.  London has something for everyone.  From rich history to detailed art, great cuisine and nightclubs, compelling oprah and sports matches, monuments you just can't miss.  I began by checking into my hotel, Ramada Jarvis Hyde Park Hotel directly in the centre of London, less then 5 minute walk to Oxford street, the most popular shopping street in the world.  Finally working for Ramada has contributed something, I stayed for 22.50 pounds per night when regular guests had to pay over 200 pounds. 

First thing I did was get "The Big Bus" pass, a tourist bus company that takes you throughout London.  It was worth every penny.  I traveled around, taking photos of Trafalgar Square, St. Pauls Cathedral, Big Ben, Tower Bridge, the London Eye, London Tower and so many more.  By the time I completed the loop they'd stopped running and I couldn't get back into Trafalgar Square.  During the bus route, I'd see posters for the Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesties Theatre.  The theme of this trip is trying things I've never experiecned before, so I decided if I was going to see an opera, it'd better be one of the most notorious.  Although I never understand half of the storyline or any of the opera singing, it was still really good.  It was a detailed story with love, hate, jealousy and revenge as the Phantom tried to control and seduce his beautiful prodegy into seduction while her lover tried to fight it.  When I return back home, I can say I've been the one of the most famous operas in the world, The Phantom of the Opera. 

The next day I took a boat tour down the River Thames.  I have never seen a dirtier river in my life.  You look in and it's pure brown.  I later learned that the city of London had been using the River Thames as a sewage system since the 1600' and to this day they still get there drinking water from that river (no wonder the Londonians are always so crappy).  When arriving in Greenwich I walked to the observatory where the Prime Meridian of the world is (0'0'00 longitude).  The nerd in my came right to the surface while watching an astronomy movie at the Planetarium.  If you've never been to one, it's really cool.  The galaxy is illuminated 360 degrees around you as you look up, as if staring into the sky at night.  It's also extremely dark so it gives you the illusion it's night and the stars are shining like there's no light pollution (PS.  I'm not scared of the dark - no body likes the dark).   After that I took a return trip back into the centre of London and got some great shots of Tower Bridge, the London Eye and Big Ben & Parlament.  I walked over to Picadilly Circus (which by the way, isn't a circus, trust me, I looked for it) for supper.  Many years ago, on a family vacation, we were in Massachusetts, we tried the BEST pizza ever in this incredible restaurant that used a stone oven.  So when I saw a stone oven restaurant after leaving the opera the previous night I knew I had to try it again, to see if it was just that restaurant or if it was the way it was cooked.  And it was delicous.  The toppings were so flavourful.  Although it was many years ago, I still believe the pizza from Massachusetts was the best pizza I've ever - this one gets the silver medal. 

After dinner I rushed back to the hotel to get directions to the CHELSEA FOOTBALL MATCH.  I'd been waiting a long time to see a live football match.  It was CHELSEA FC vs. ATHLETICO MANDRID and see my favourite players play, especially Kalou.  For as long as I'd been coming to London, I'd always tried to avoid taking the Underground as much as I could.  If you've seen those maps, they look very confusing - especially for a small town Canadian.  But, I only had 45minutes to make the match and I had no other choice.  It was actually a lot easier then I'd expected - so easy apparently everyone in London used it because you couldn't get another person on.  We were elbow to elbow, the best part was one of every two people was wearing a Blue & White Chelsea jersey, a relief to me - I no longer had to ask anyone for directions now, I could simply follow the crowd.  Of a side note, North American stadiums are very different from the ones here.  First, you have to buy all your merchandise outside the stadium, not inside (not even Official Match books) - more on that in a moment.  Second, you aren't even aloud to drink - in North America they wave those $8.00 beers in your face every chance they get.  When I went in,  I was so close if a player had spat, they would of hit me.  It didn't take me long to realize what Chelsea fans are really like - old people with far too much money.  The Athletico Mandrid team had a small section of the opposite corner just to themselves (with police along every row seperating them from the Chelsea fans).  In North America, if you buy tickets to your teams away games, your completely seperated from other fans in the gulf of the home team.  But in England, you get your own section and they were far louder and more energetic then Chelsea fans ever were.  They never once sat down, I looked around the stadium, no Chelsea fans were standing.  But when Chelsea scored there first goal the stadium lit up with enthusiasm - especially once it was called off.  Behind me, Chelsea fans had been hating on Kalou all night (remember, he's my favourite player) but when he scored, they turned like a light switch and the fans began singing his song.  Minutes into the second half, Kalou scored AGAIN and the Chelsea fans erupted, singing Kalou's song for 5 minutes straight.  As the game progressed, I started to dislike Deco and began liking others much more.  It's official now that I've seen a live game.  My four favourite players are Kalou / Terry / Lampard / Ashley Cole and even the other striker everyone calls 'Nickie' (god is he ever fast).  The final score was 4-0 Chelsea.  Lampard added one and a player I still cannot remember added one in extra time from a free kick about 15 meters outside the box.  Because they don't sell jersey's inside the stadium, I never did get to buy a jersey.  I've decided I'll buy a black alternative jersey from their website, but I've yet to decide between Terry / Kalou.  I'm thinking Kalou is my favourite player and he scored twice while I was there but Terry is Chelsea's franchise player.  The verdict is still out.  After leaving, thousands rushed to the Underground, so many that the police were there guiding people into the station (they even have a seperate enterance for match night).  They were very nice and efficient, by the time I knew it, thousands had gone ahead of me and I was in the underground getting lost again.

There was much of London I'll have to see when I come back to London after my European Adventure.  I never went into the National Art Museum or the National British Museum.  I still have to watch the Changing of the Guards ceremony at Buckingham Palace and shop at the famous Oxford Street but there will be time for that when I come back, for now, it's off to Paris.

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photo by: ulysses