Olympic Letdown? (Day Four)

Trip Start Aug 16, 2012
Trip End Oct 01, 2012

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Monday, August 20, 2012

Well, not exactly. Only that the two places that I planned on going to today didn't really work out as expected. I woke up early again and took the tube to Stratford Station to visit London's Olympic Park. It was Monday, so there were lots of commuters on the streets and subway. Stratford Station is quite far away from the city centre located in Zone 3 of the transit system. I walked from the station towards Olympic Park, passing the large new mall that was built for the Games beside it. When I reached the gates of the park, however, I was turned away. Apparently, visiting the grounds was closed off until the Paralympics which didn't start until another week. Even then, you need a ticket to an event to get inside. I wasn't too disappointed however, because the next place I was going to visit was a short train ride south.

I took the Docklands Light Railway through Canary Wharf, London's second financial district, to Greenwich. By now, it was around 11am, and the train which would have been packed hours earlier was empty. I got off, walked along the Thames for a bit, and then headed towards the park where the Observatory is located. The prime meridian passes through Greenwich, from which the world's time zones are determined. However, the whole northern entrance to the park was blocked off due to it being an Olympic venue for the equestrian events. I didn't want to try to find another way to get in so I gave up and toured the grounds of the Naval Academy instead.

From Greenwich, you are able to take a Thames sightseeing boat back to the city. I wasn't planning on taking one, but changed my mind as I though it would be a good way to get back to London. A sign at the counter said that tickets were 50% off, so I ending up paying 6 for the adult fare. The boat ride ended up being really fun! The first half from Greenwich to Tower Bridge was uneventful, but when the boat docked to pick more people up there, a tour guide got on board as well. He was very funny and joked about all the different sights and buildings on the river. It was also really cool to see London from the perspective of the water.

After docking by the Houses of Parliament, I got off and took the tube to Regent's Park. I walked around and then sat on a shady bench to rest and write in my journal. From there, I walked towards Camden Town, a popular shopping area. The streets were filled with people, so I decided to take the tube down to Euston Station to visit the British Library. I wanted to try to find free internet or computers but had no luck so I went back to the hostel.

Since I arrived, there had been practically no one in my 16 bedroom dorm. In my side of the room (the room is divided in two by a wall) only one other bed was occupied. I guess it's because weekends are significantly more expensive at around $40 CDN a night. But tonight, all eight beds are filled. I met Simon, a friendly Brit who was staying in town for the night for a friend's birthday. Later on, he returned from the hostel bar quite drunk, passed out, and fell off his bed. Luckily, he was sleeping in the bottom bunk.

Before that, I also met Lucas and his mother from French Guiana who were travelling around England and Wales after visiting his sister at school in France. They were only staying the night as they were leaving for France to catch a flight back home. They are well-travelled and have even been to Canada. They told me that they drove from Montreal all the way to Golden, BC, to hike in the mountains. I was shocked - that's a really long drive! We chatted for a while and they gave me tips on what to expect on the rest of my journey. They mentioned that Parisiens and not the friendliest and that they got weird looks from the locals in Bruges who apparently don't like tourists much. But they were excited when I said that I would be visiting Prague, Vienna, Florence, and Rome, telling me how beautiful those cities are.

Next, I met Tohru from Japan, who like me, was backpacking around Europe for several weeks. He was going to travel through the UK for a while before going to France, Spain, Italy, and Switzerland. He had just flew in that night on a 15 hour flight from Sendai where he lives and goes to university. It's been nice meeting and talking with other travellers as the room had been quite empty for the past couple of days. I thought it would be weird sharing a room with so many people, but so far haven't found any issue with it at all!
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Kathy on

Glad to hear you are meeting some nice people.

Anne on

There is so much to see in this grand old city. Is it fun to hear all those British accents and terms? Iit is nice to meet other travelers at the hostel; each one with their interesting story and background. I definitely have to get over to London soon!

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