So I ended up having about 6 naps on my first afternoon here and I’m sure I would have had more except BECCA! surprised me in my bed just before dinner and we had a couple of hours of laughs with her before she had to go home again. Becca and Genna and I are driving up to Harriet’s tonight for Christmas.
Yesterday was my first London day. We’d planned to catch an open-topped bus, but the weather was too crappy to make it worth the overpriced cost. We drove to St John’s Wood station and tubed it in to Westminster station. Tube trains are overheated and just like they look in the movies. At some stations they’ve installed protective walls on the ledge of the platform – there are only gaps for the doors on the carriages and is supposed to be extra protection in the event of another London Bombing. A lot of the streets have ram-raid barriers as well, it’s amazing how unsecure Sydney now seems in comparison.
As we were walking into St John’s Wood station, I notice a Beatles souvenier shop and Genna said that Abbey Road was only a 10 minute walk away. Score! We hoofed it down there and checked out the fence of Abbey Road Studios which are completely graffiti’d with tributes to John Lennon and co (some psycho also declared their love for Mark Owen from Take That). Apparently they paint over parts of the fence every now and again so that the fans have a clean canvas to work on. Genna took a photo of me walking across That Crossing at Abbey Road and I can safely say that I look more like Kevin Smith except without the beard.
Genna very cleverly walked me out the right exit of Westminster station so that the first thing I saw was Big Ben and holy cow I started crying. Tragic, aren’t I? I managed to keep my cool after that, but there was just something about seeing Big Ben and HOW BIG IT IS and it was just amazing. We started crossing Westminster Bridge to try to see the London Eye, London Bridge and the Tower of London, but the fog was still thick enough that we couldn’t even see the other side of the Thames. We walked around the Houses of Parliament (had my photo taken with a Bobby!) and checked out Westminster Abbey. Being a Sunday it was closed to tourists but we ogled the detail of the outside.
It was only a few degrees outside and I was pretty well rugged up for the weather but we still dropped into Caffe Nero and bought this hot chocolate that was just like melted chocolate. It was about a week’s worth of chocolate in one hit and I LOVED IT.
We walked down to Trafalgar Square via the Horse Guards Parade and stared at the guards and beautiful horses. Horse Guards Parade is just behind 10 Downing Street and will be the venue for beach volley ball during the London Olympics. Maybe this is Little Britain’s fault, but I imagined that you can walk right past 10 Downing Street and have your photo taken out the front and HOW WRONG I WAS. The security at the end of the street is insane and the police and security looked scary as all out.
Trafalgar Square has nowhere near the amount of pigeons as I thought, but apparently some politician has it in for them and is probably having them poisoned to keep them away. There’s a £500 fine for feeding the pigeons, so it’s lucky the bird lady from Mary Poppins isn’t around anymore.
Genna cultured me up in the National Gallery and saw a few Monet’s and other famous artists/paintings that I’d never heard of (this could be a running them while I’m here). National Gallery wins because it was free!!
Then we headed up Regent Street, Carnaby Street and then Oxford Street to meet up with the one and only Emma V. Emma’s a Melbournite I haven’t seen since Natty’s wedding and she’s been back here since about October. Very strange to hear an almost-Australian accent! The three of us went out for lunch on Regent Street (I think, I was pretty disorientated) and caught up on gossip until about 4.
OH MY GOD I HAVE TO TELL YOU ABOUT ABERCROMBIE AND FITCH. It’s this fashion store that is more like a nightclub – dark, loud thumping music and totally not my scene. Everything is overpriced becuase it’s an American brand and so that makes it okay. The staff aren’t called ‘sales assistants’ or anything useful, they’re called ‘models’. And blow me over, they’re right! Everyone looks like they’ve walked off the set of the OC or some fancy rich-kid tv show. Their thing is to have a scantily-clad man standing in the entrance and they offer to take your photo with said hottie with their polaroid camera. I’ll have to take a photo of the polariod so I can show you. They totally make it a touristey thing and pop the photo in a cardboard frame and everthing. Definitely a highlight in the eye-candy stakes.
So after all this it was dark and we popped into a few shops like Selfridges and Marks and Spencer and dealt with the crowds before catching the tube and driving home.
We planned to go out to the movies, but I ended up having a nap and not wanting to wake up. I ended up in bed before 9, which is why I’m now awake at 3 in the morning.
A heap of photos from London day are here on flickr.