A bit of a hiccup to begin with
Trip Start Sep 18, 2011
25Trip End Oct 31, 2011
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Another restless night, we slept with the window open so it was cooler but we had noises of traffic outside.
We got up at 8 and called home, the wifi wasn't very strong though and the phone call cut out half way through talking to Isabella. After two tries we gave up :-( Sorry Isabella
We made good time to get to the train station Gare de Nord and found the Eurostar check-in. It was very weird because you had to take all your bags through metal detectors like you were at the airport. You then went through French customs and got a stamp, my stamp stuffed up so not happy there, you then walk literally 5 metres and go through England customs. At that stage you can't go backwards.
We got to the waiting lounge and I saw the Haagen Dazs (delicious expensive Ice cream) store. I had 15 Euros left and they wouldn't be useful in London so I went and bought two 'little' tubs of ice cream for Lezah and myself. It cost $13 Euro... It was delicious. A Frenchman gestured towards the ice cream and made a comment in French. I smiled like I understood. If I had to guess I would translate what he said as "Bit early for ice cream isn't it?"
The train ride was nice an smooth, you wouldn't even know you were going that fast.
Upon arriving at London disaster struck, our itinerary from Flight Centre said we were arriving in London on the 5th (today) but our hotel reservation was for the 6th. After several calls to the Flight Centre after hours number (I'm going to love that phone bill when it comes in) I spoke to a lady called Felicity who advised she couldn't really assist as the booking is under the agent, we would have to wait until business hours. She can book new emergency accommodation for us but not change an existing booking.
She was very nice and spoke to the hotel but they had no rooms at the same type and price to put us in early. We ended up paying 175 pounds for the last room they had available. 4 single beds crammed up literally in the ceiling space. On the upside it is a very large room. I have to now wait for it to get to 10am Australian time (midnight London time) as Flight Centre will call me on the mobile.
I will let Lezah fill you in one what we saw after we checked in when we started exploring London.
Oh one last thing for today, in the tube station we saw advertising for many movies and shows, one of which was the Doctor Who experience (http://www.doctorwhoexperience.com). Being a nerd as I am I got very excited at this. I have already gone to the website and Lezah has agreed to go in the next two days if I can get tickets.
I get to go into the Tardis, get chased by Daleks, be attacked by weeping angels (won't make any sense unless you've seen the show) and it's 10 minutes down the road, why wouldn't I go :-D
After putting our bags in our room we headed straight back to the Tube and made our way the the Tourism Centre to pick up our 3 day London passes that gives us entry to many tourist attractions. Since it was already 4pm by this stage we missed the last entry on most things except for "The London Bridge Experience and Dungeons".
There was about 18 people on the tour and we were all very nervous as it was very dimly lit and there were many scary and gruesome items in each of the rooms they took us into.
The dungeons smelt like horse and hay and was supposed to be representative of 1850s stench in London when London Bridge was first built. We had to walk single file with our hands on the shoulders of the person in front through the dungeons. Unfortunately Don was stuck at the very end of the line and was shot in the bum by an air machine gun, threatened by an undead butcher with a chainsaw and finally chased by a zombie in pajamas at which point Don yelled "He's right behind us - RUN!!" and we all ran screaming through the rest of the dungeon. It was very intense, but we all managed to have a good laugh in the end.
After finishing at the smelly dungeons we headed towards the Thames River and some fresh air. It had been raining while we were inside the dungeons and the ground was wet and the wind was picking up. There are so many landmarks to see including Tower Bridge and he Tower of London which we hope to visit tomorrow. Our walk continued and we crossed the Millennium Bridge from the St Paul's Cathedral side over towards Shakespeare's Globe Theatre (Don: As seen in Doctor Who).
By this stage it was getting late so we decided to head towards Waterloo station. On our walk to the station all of a sudden 3 police motorbikes followed by two dark cars and another two Police motorbikes whizzed through the traffic in a convoy. The police stopped the traffic and we had to stop walking. All of the pedestrians watched what was going on and as a joke I said to Don I wonder if it is anyone famous. Sure enough - it was Princess Anne - the Queen's daughter sitting in the back of the black town car!!! I thought it was very exciting, but Don didn't have a clue who I was talking about. At least the other pedestrians around me knew who it was and they got a bit excited with me as well.
Once again on the tube we found our way to Chairing Cross as we wanted to check where we need to go tomorrow night to see the Lion King. Don is looking forward to it in eager anticipation. I saw the Lion King in Melbourne a few years ago, and I can't talk about it yet as I don't want to give anything away, but I know he's going to love it. On the way to the theatre we found a telephone box for Don to get an obligatory London photo in - very touristy, but who cares!
Back on the tube again and home to our hotel. We are experts on the tube after one day, quite tired from all of the stairs in the tube we climbed, especially earlier in the day with our suitcases.
Quick update, Flight Centre called and will refund our money for tonight. Yay!
After a good night's rest we walked a short distance to Marble Arch and caught the hop on / off bus for a short time before switching to the tube and making our own way to Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guard.
I was two deep from the fence with still 30 minutes to go until the ceremony. The crowd grew enormously and it was lucky we got there early. The Grenadier Guards marched around and did several patrols of the grounds. The marching band soon arrived and played a medley of James Bond movie themes and other tunes.
The ceremony went for about an hour and afterwards we walked around the corner to the Royal Mews where horses, carriages and cars are kept. The massive gold state coach weighs over 4 tonnes and is over 250 years old and has been used for every coronation since that time.
After the mews we had a bite to eat and quickly made our way back to the hotel to change rooms after the accommodation problem yesterday and to grab our coats as the wind has become quite bitter. Back on the bus we headed towards the Tower of London, but jumped off at St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Unfortunately there was an event on and we couldn't get in, so we jumped back on the bus and headed to the tower of London and saw many fascinating artifacts including the crown jewels and lots of armour and weaponry.
Once we finished at the tower we made our way to Charing Cross to find something for dinner before heading to The Lion King.
After the show we walked along the river and Don took some night shots of the London Eye and Big Ben and Parliament. From there we made our way home via tube and bus after our tube stop was closed since it was so late - speaking of late, it's way past my bed time :-)
Headed to the tube again and made our way to Earl's Court then walked 15 minutes to Kensington Olympia for the Dr Who experience.
Don had a very smirkily little smile on his face as he was so excited to be part of the Dr Who experience, and I have to admit it was pretty cool, but I will leave it to Don to give you all the nerdy details.
After Dr Who we caught the bus towards Kensington Palace, and got a photo at the gates. This was the residence of Princess Diana and the area outside the gates was a sea of flowers after she passed away. There was advertisements near the gate to say there were reconstruction works going on so we didn't bother going in.
We continued to wander through Kensington Palace gardens which becomes Hyde Park and towards the Albert Memorial and Royal Albert Hall.
Our London pass included entry to Royal Albert Hall, so we went in and managed to join a tour that was just about to begin when we arrived.
The tour took us all through the hallways and into the hall itself. We saw the Royal box where the Queen sits and even saw where she uses the loo at interval.
Royal Albert Hall is the place where all the big name artists have played including the Beatles and the Rolling Stones on the same night. The venue is also famous for the "proms" music festival held every year and mainly features classical music.
After our tour we headed to Harrod's and looked at all the luxurious goods including sculptures and art works. One item on display was a crystal encrusted panther with a price tag of 32,000 pounds!!
Since my credit card limit is not that large we headed back to the tube and briefly back to the hotel before heading back out on the tube to go and see "We Will Rock You".
I'd previously seen it in Melbourne, but really loved the Queen music and wanted to see it again. Since the plot line is a bit space age and Don doesn't mind a bit if Queen music I thought it would be a good choice.
We had a very entertaining evening and I'll be listening to some Queen on my iPhone the next time I get a chance :-)
Firstly nerd alert, so you are warned.
I really liked the Doctor Who experience. I ended up missing the Star Trek Experience in Las Vegas last year so I was looking forward to this.
The queue was very short but I wasn't the oldest person there luckily. All the costumes and monsters were very cool as was the 'experience' itself. It was made for kids as Doctor Who is PG but I still enjoyed being on the set of the Tardis and pretending to fly it.
I convinced Lezah to go in a photo with me before looking at the rest of the props and sets.
On the way out we had a look at the gift shop. I almost bought Elliot a life size cardboard cut-out of David Tennant but it was over $90 AUD and probably wouldn't have made it back to Australia unbroken. I did buy a small thing for my desk at home.
A slower start to the day after a little sleep in. Our first stop for the day was Trafalgar Square and Nelson's column.
When we arrived there were a lot of police around and then we realized that there was a stop the war in Afgahnistan protest due to start soon. We decided that we didn't like the atmosphere there and walked down the road towards Westminster Abbey (recent royal wedding was there), The Mall, Whithall, Downing St (Prime Minister's residence) and then on to the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.
We jumped on the tube to Victoria Station and found our way to the coach depot and soon onto the bus for our tour to Stonehenge.
It took just under two hours to get there and we were given audio guides and sent on our way to explore the site for ourselves. It was very cold out in the field, but wonderful to see such an amazing world heritage listed place. The commentary gave a few theories about Stoneghenge's purpose including an ancient calendar and an astronomical guide.
Once we were back in London we headed straight for the London Eye. This was my third visit, but the first time with a night view which gave a different perspective. It was great to see everything lit up at night with lots of dazzling lights to be seen in every direction.
We jumped back on the tube to Oxford Circus to grab some dinner and then on to our stop at Marble Arch. Packing our bags for our flight to Canada in the morning.