Acting like real tourists in London

Trip Start Feb 02, 2010
Trip End Feb 02, 2011

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Thursday, May 20, 2010

Already a week ago now we arrived in London, time as gone so fast. Lucy – a friend of mine from working and travelling in America – and her mum Anne met us at the bus station and took us out to their lovely suburban house. Lucy cooked us up some spaghetti bolognaise and we sat around the table for hours drinking wine and catching up on the last two years since we saw each other last.

Lucy took Friday off work so we were up bright and early ready to head out into London city. For the first time in a city we did the proper tourist thing, making a beeline from one famous attraction to the next. After hopping off the train at Waterloo Station we wandered through the streets to Covent Garden where we watched an annoying street performer but had a very nice fruit salad from a market stall.

Next we went to Leicester Square, past the many, many, theatres, then onto Trafalgar Square to see the lions, one of the treasure hunt tasks. I was quite embarrassed to be seen climbing on the lions like every other tourist in sight but it was actually very fun, they are so big and slippery, we did a lot a laughing trying to climb onto their backs.

As we wandered away from Trafalgar Square we were drawn towards a green leafy park from where we heard a faint drumming and the sound of trumpets. Like mice in the Pied Piper we followed the music for nearly half an hour before we came across a large military band training, possibly the Queens guard. This was by far the highlight of my day, I absolute love watching any large group moving in synchrony. All the legs, feet and arms in straight lines swinging in time; I think it looks so great, it really satisfies my eyes. All the shiny brass instruments and different drums and the leaders at the front twirling the batons, it's so perfect, ordered and symmetrical. The baton twirlers reminded Felix of his grandfather Zayda who had done the same thing in Melbourne at Flagstaff Gardens during the Second World War. Not only did it look good, it sounded really great too. I’m not one to be easily impressed but it mustn’t be too easy to march and play music like that at the same time. Gosh it really made my day to see that marching band, I love it.

We watched as long as we could and sadly after only half an hour they all dispersed and disappeared into a big building. So we wandered on to Buckingham Palace. I imagined it would be bigger, fancier, shinier and grander then it appeared in my eyes. It’s just sitting by the side of the road, sure it does have quite a security fence around it but you could easily walk past it and just think it was any old building, well I could. And most disappointingly there were no guards in big, black fluffy hats to be seen anywhere. It’s funny to imagine good old Liz up there doing whatever it is she does in a usual day. I’ve never really though of her as a celebrity I’d like to spot but I really felt a little tinge of being star struck just for being near her house and knowing she could have been in there, I mean if she was in one of the front rooms when I was standing at the fence I could have been within five hundred metres of her.

Once we had done all the looking there was to be done at Buckingham Palace, we caught the underground back to Covent Gardens where we found a pub to have lunch at, completing the 'eat a pub lunch’ task for the treasure hunt and where Felix could satisfy the craving he was having yet again for fish and chips. Next it was off to see Big Ben, Westminster Abby, the House of Parliament and the protesters camp Democracy Village. As we were making our way there we passed Downing Street which was completely secured by big gates, little gates, barricades and a collection of guards and policemen.

So that was London for us, we only made it into the city one other time when we met Felix’s brother-in-law Seiki for lunch/afternoon tea. I don’t understand how people have the energy to travel all the time like we have been travelling the last two weeks. It’s exhausting always chasing buses and trains and looking up timetables and buying tickets and rushing from one connection to the other and waiting, waiting, waiting for the next train, bus, tram every time you want to move. Apart from the one day we zipped around London we have been really bad tourists, spending most of our time avoiding cities and just enjoying the area we are in. At the same time I feel much more relaxed for doing this. I also do feel quite some regret for having been near such famous cities and not having soaked up every bit I can of them.

Saturday was a great day. Jen – another friend from America – came to London. Lucy planned us a little pub-crawl, a tour of her favourite Kingston pubs. We covered quite a few places, one of particular note was right on the Thames, where we sat on the steps to the waters edge in the sun. We also visited a very old coronation stone, which due to our drunkenness maybe didn’t get the appreciation it deserved (Felix really did like it, especially the fact that ‘Ethelred the Unready’ had been crowned by it in the tenth century AD). This night was very momentous, fun and eventful but there really isn’t that much I can say about it. We just did a lot of catching up and remembering the good times back in America. I want to tell more because it was such a highlight but there isn’t much to say apart from recounting all the drunken moments, entertaining for us but one of those ‘you had to be there things’. Most importantly, I had a really great time, it was so good to spend time with Lucy and Jen, it’s sad there is such distance between us.

Sunday was spent sleeping, relaxing and recovering from the poisoning we gave ourselves the night before. Lucy’s family had a big tasty BBQ. They have a beautiful back garden, it was so nice sitting out there having a BBQ, even if, in true English spirit we had to run inside to get out of a sudden downpour.

Time was going so fast and before we knew it, it was Monday; we went into the city again to meet Seiki and look around a little. We stood at the bottom of the London Eye and considered going for a ride but decided against it. We went to the Tate Museum but no surprises it was closing as we got there. We did see the Millennium footbridge which Felix was really excited to see after reading about it needing serious modification after it was found to sway wildly if all the people on it started walking in sync subconsciously (in an effort to balance as it began swaying under them – but in fact adding to the problem!). We could feel it swaying a bit but it wasn’t as strong as Felix had hoped. From the bridge we also saw Tower Bridge in the distance, which was another high on Felix’s personal to-do list.

We caught the train back to Surbiton and met Lucy at a very posh looking Indian restaurant for dinner. The service was so posh that they spread a napkin on our laps and checked we were happy many times. The food was wonderful and not expensive like the look of the place suggested it would be. Like every time I eat Indian, I came out with my mouth still watering for more but completely full. When we paid the bill we got complimentary brandy or Baileys and a mint chocolate.

And so our visit to Lucy was over all so quickly and too soon. The next morning, Wednesday, we packed up and caught the train to Streatham Hill to spend a night with some Australian friends living in London, Mick, Tash and their children. We had a delicious dinner with them and Felix probably had a nice night catching up on the sharing the family news, but it was pretty humdrum for me. (No offence to anyone, please, hearing the same old Cameron so and so is doing this and their doing that is what I hear everyday, it’s not the subject, just the repetition of what I already know). Bed time and it hardly felt like my eyes closed before we were up again this morning bright and early again to catch another string of buses back to Leeds for our flights back to Italy and Nina.

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Dazza on

You didn't mention Churchhills WWII bunker; you didn't miss that tourist trap did you??

John on

Readit. Can't think of anything funny to say this time. But loved reading it anyway. Happy day's putties. Love John.

Miwa on

How very English!!! Hilarious you're STILL eating fish and chips, right to the very end! And no offence taken Floss, about your 'humdrum' comment, it was very funny indeed :-)

Needless to say, I love every word and the honesty of the blogs!!!

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