London Calling

For a full list of my travel adventures, click here.

Per usual, all my blogging plans have gone to shit over the last few days. For some reason, the head cold I’ve picked up had the added symptom of eating bad foods and then feeling like shit… or maybe that’s just me being stupid. It ends up, however, with me laying on the couch feeling terrible, then putting on an episode of Dexter and before you know it, I’m dead.

But I promised I would write about what I did in London, so I’ll give it my best shot. Already it seems like worlds away, yet just inside my mind… I’m having a lot of emotions about the whole experience, but that’s for another day.

So, as previously mentioned, I arrived in London on the morning of the 23rd, after an overnight flight. I was dead tired, having caught only about 3 hours of sleep on the plane. But, I hit the ground running (literally), to Picadilly Circus to pick up my London Pass (will talk more about this soon) and the dashing down to the London Bicycle Tour Company for a 10:30am city tour. I would say this was by far the most helpful thing I did right off the bat: I got oriented, got some exercise, and got some photos. But, no rest for the weary, as I then hurried back north to St. Martin-in-the-Fields church to meet up with a friend of mine who just happened to also be in London at the time. M and I spent the afternoon even farther north.

We wandered to 221b Baker Street, home of Sherlock Holmes, and then spent a while in Regent’s Park catching up on life and resting weary soles and souls. After, we made the long haul down Euston Road by foot to King’s Cross station, for a vital photo at Platform 9¾. Funnily enough, it wasn’t where it was supposed to be, and for half a second I thought maybe my muggle-ness had betrayed me at last. But, in the end, we found it, and shot the cheesy photos.

Then, we headed far south for a cider in my first English pub. These pubs are by far my favorite drinking estabishments I have yet encountered, and by golly if I haven’t given it a fair shot to try a few in my day. I couldn’t stay long, as I had a ride on the London Eye in the evening, but I then met back up with M at a fish and chips place near Covent Garden for a late dinner… That’s one thing, the Brits eat dinner very late, and I was always thrown off by it.

The second day, I got up early, and headed across the Thames (I was staying on the Isle of Dogs) to Greenwich. I had heard they were filming Sherlock Holmes at the Royal Naval College/University of Greenwich, and wanted a sneak peek. I’ll be even more interested to see the film now (as if RDJr. wasn’t incentive enough) to see if I recognize the scene they were going to film! I also visited the Royal Observatory and in particular, the Prime Meridian line. It was there I officially recognized that I have now been in both the East and West hemispheres! I also wandered through the town of Greenwich, and the Greenwich market, where it was lovely to see handmade items for sale. Think of it, I have a coat I really want to buy from there, that they also sell online.

Then, I changed plans entirely (see, I spend weeks coming up with a perfect itinerary, only to scrap it and reform it repeatedly in my mind), and hopped on a Thames riverboat cruise from Westminster to the Tower of London. I did a too-quick tour of the Tower, and then headed back toward Westminster for a Harry Potter walking tour. It was interesting to see the small places around the town where the films have been shot, and I’m looking forward to rewatching to see and say, ‘hey, I’ve been right there!’ Afterward, M and I wandered toward Jubilee Market, but it was closing, so we tucked into a beer bar for an afternoon break. Then, we went back to where she was staying, so she could pack up (leaving the next day), and then back into the world for dinner and drinks at a place called The Olde Red Cow. Such great names, how could I not enjoy myself? Also, at dinner, I won at Scrabble, which is a first.

The next morning, I had again changed my plans. I decided that instead whatever I had planned (looking back, I certainly did almost everything planned on the days planned, I just added a lot more in too and shuffled things up), in the morning I was going out to Windsor Castle. I hadn’t known I could for free, but I saw it in my London Pass guidebook, and everyone, no really, everyone had told me that it was a must-see. I whole-heartedly enjoyed the travel from Paddington Station, the trains, the Castle, the pasty I had for lunch after… I felt accomplished and capable, and certainly a lot smarter about English history. Then, though, I went more whirlwind: I did the Tower Bridge tour, found the London Stone (you try to!), and took photos from the outside of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Sadly churches are closed to exhibition on Sundays, so I wasn’t able to climb the dome, but that’s an activity for another day. I tucked into more dinner and more cider, and ended the night with a Jack the Ripper walking tour of City of London and the East End. The man who lead it, Donald, is the world expert on Jack the Ripper, and his tour was Fantastic. Capital F. All around, the third day was exhausting, but so so SO interesting and fun. I wanted to die from exhaustion at the time, because my feet and back and knees and EVERYTHING hurt, but looking back, I am glad I pushed so hard and saw so much. Truly, a great day.

In fact, that’s the way all of London was: exhausting, interesting, fun, whirlwind, harried, and painful at times. I certainly needed that day or so ‘off’ to hit Stonehenge and Brighton, because any longer and I know I would have started to hate how much I was putting into London. However, I know now how much I got back. I wouldn’t change it for a moment.


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