Last one for London
Trip Start May 18, 2011
14Trip End Aug 29, 2011
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After another cock up on the tube, I finally managed to meet up with Alicia and her bf Alex and we went for drinks at the Garden Restaurant just a couple of minutes down from where I'm living. It was super lovely and met a bunch of Alex's work mates as well - it was fantastic just being able to chat about nothing over a few drinks. Also, gifter Alicia a cutely wrapped pack of Jaffas which we shared around - one of the english guys took a real liking to them :) Alicia, Alex and I then went to an Indian restaurant even closer to my place for dinner which was also fantastic, really lovely food, wine and company and had a great time catching up with Alicia and what she's been up to - I will definitely be back in touch with her next time I'm in London, in fact I wish I had've got in touch again before I was leaving
Next morning, Stace and I got up and started to get ready for the polo, all dressed and made up nicely! It was the most perfect weather we could have possible asked for! (I officially have my first tan of summer!) We took the tube and bus to her friends' place, Taha & Chrissy, and proceeded to get on the Pimms and G&T's, kind of forgetting about lunch in the process. It was lovely meeting all Stacey's friends, the hosts were awesome kiwi's and Stace's best friend Kate was wonderful to chat to. Her and Stacey are just girls my age in slightly older bodies, I'm sure of it. There were also a couple of kiwi guys there around my age too which was super and met two lovely girls, one Canadian and one Korean. After we'd all met and chat and got suitably tipsy, we headed 2 mins down the road to the polo.
It was different to how I'd expected, very comparable to the races in NZ. It was, mostly, a fantastic people watching event! Kate and I waited in line for a whole half a match to get drinks for everyone and then heard there was a £20 deposit on the jugs so decided against getting a jug of pimms so got wine instead but found out as we were leaving the drinks tent that we couldn't take glass outside the tent and so we had to pour our wine into massive plastic cups
Anyway, eventually did watch some polo action and just in time too coz we got to see a collision where two guys fell off their horses and one didn't get up and the ambulance rushed on and everyone did a collective gasp! Excitement! I think i got pictures. After that we wanted to leave for a bit and come back for the second match but we weren't allowed back in once we'd been let out so that didn't work. I stayed a bit longer with the boys while the others went home to drink champagne. It was funny watching a couple of the guys trying (and failing) to pick up girls at the bar. Then we all went home, drunk much champagne, listened to much "cheese" (which is the english word here for pop-y sings that everyone sings and dances along to when you've had too much to drink, basically) and generally had a good time! I got some pictures but Stacey won't let me put them on here =P
Then a short taxi home and we were in bed sound asleep! The next day I quite literally didn't leave bed or my pyjamas. Not because I was hung over (although I was probably that also) but the weather had turned to poos so I just sat and read a book all day (Thanks Si, it was a goodie
Today is the day....
Jess Pollard: Ultimate Tourist.
Courtesy of my London Pass I completed the following:
Fantastic - well worth a visit on the London pass (kind of expensive if you're not on the pass though). The annoying thing about most of these attractions is that I can't take pictures. And I can't really start to explain to you what everything was like.... But I would say the highlights of this trip were seeing Isaac Newtons memorial, and hearing about all the drama that went on between kings and queens and their daughters and mothers and great-grand daughters... Of course my memory for history is crappy so I can't relay any of it for you. I think the biggest draw card for the Abbey is not so much the architecture and stuff (sadly, because in places it is absolutely stunning) its all the memorials and monuments and burial places of famous people
Was kind of disappointed by the hugely commercial and tacky tribute to Will & Kate's wedding in the middle of one of the lovely small chapel. But oh well. That was what most of the tourists were super excited about so bully for them!
I initially just went on this as a way to get from Westminster to Tower of London. But it was one of the highlights of my day! There was a guy commentating who had a really good sense of humour and he told us heaps of really interesting facts about the buildings and stuff just along the bit of Thames we were travelling along
This guy also told us about the origin of the term "box office" and how it got coined way back in Shakespeare's times. Ask me if you wana know, I'm sure you don't really.
Anyway, really worthwhile and I would certainly use it again as an alternative method of transport around London.
Tower of London
Gosh, by the time i got here, I was already a bit pooped (it was a rainy day and I had had to wait for 45 minutes in said rain to get into Westminster Abbey)
We got shown round by a beefeater and a very lively one at that. He told us all about the tower and how it is a royal home, not a prison or anything like that like some people thought. Although it was used to lock up prisoners sometimes so yea... go figure. Anyway, he told us that torture never really happened officially, but of course unofficially it did and i went down and looked at the "unofficial instruments of torture". See pics for more details.
Got told a story about a man who was getting his head chopped off but it took 5 times - the first time they got his shoulder, the second time, only a bit of his neck, the third time they missed and then the 4th and 5th times were poor attempts but finally managed to get his head off. Then (i can't remember if it was the same guy or not) there was one who was having a portrait done, but they hadn't finished it before he was beheaded. So after he was beheaded, they sewed his head back on, put a scarf on him and finished the portrait. Then took the head back off again, stuck it on a spear and paraded it around the tower bridge just like all the other heads they took off. Ahhhh the english.
The crown jewels were pretty awesome - especially the 530 carat diamond on display, never quite seen anything like that. After seeing so many diamonds and so much gold tho you kind of stop believing any of it is real. There was a big display on armour that knights used to wear as well as the weapons. that was pretty cool, i can't imagine how they could have done anything useful with some of that armour on. oh man and the size of the jousting poles was pretty insane, i didn't expect them to be that massive. also took pics of pretty artisticly decorated guns which were nice.
Sat in the church where all the bodies of the beheaded people were buried. They were buried there instead of in a graveyard so that noone could worship them/they couldn't become martyrs after they had been killed.
This was just a wee attraction which is the monument built in the late 1600s to commemorate the Great Fire of London. Christopher Wren designed it and it's 61 metres high with 311 steps leading to the top in a dizzying spiral stair case. I went to the top and got real puffed, took some panoramic pictures then came down
The Old Operating Theatre
Awesome, awesome place. Pretty much the oldest remains of a hospital in London. Back way before anaesthetic or antiseptic and when they pretty much used to amputate any old thing while the patient was wide awake with a big old saw. Mostly will just put up the pics, coz I'm getting bored of writing this now, but this place was seriously worthwhile, I enjoyed it a lot in a sick kind of way.
The London Bridge and London Dungeons experience
This is the kind of thing that Kaitlyn would have LOVED. It was pretty much a bunch of people dressed up and acting out characters from medieval england and kind of telling the story of the London bridge while doing it. There was one girl who was particularly funny who showed us what they would do with the bodies after they had beheaded them
After all this excitement, I went and had a couple of wines with Stacey and her workmates - all fantastic people, I can see why she loves where she works. I got lots of tips of what to do when I come back to London including good night clubs etc. We then went and had dinner at Wagamama's - a really fantastic Japanese restaurant, in 2 words "healthy" and "delicious". I'll definitely go back there.
Jess Pollard: Attempted Ultimate Tourist..
St Paul's Cathedral
Ok, so don't think I'm weird but when I was in St Paul's I actually cried. Just a few quiet tears, but this place was unbelievable. Christopher Wren is my new idol. I couldn't take pictures and I can't really explain, but the architecture was a piece of art. The ceilings were so huge and if you can imagine his purpose of having it as just a wide open space for worship - no chairs or statues or anything, just what he has built - it is incredible. The thing is older than new zealand the perfectness of the symmetry and how clever he was as a mathematician is mind blowing - there is a staircase that we got to go to on the guided tour that has no support, it is called the geometric stair case and it is all to do with how each stair is perfectly poisitioned in relation to the other two stairs to make it stay and not need to be held up by anything else. It's fantastic. Much like the dome - the second largest unsupported one in the world I think. Its all very incredible, but you don't get it til you see it yourself. But I was standing looking up at all the perfectness and then the choir starting singing in the most wonderful chilling harmonies I have ever heard and how could you not shed a tear? geez. I would go back to this place again and again and again if i could afford to
After this I got on the tube to go to the Royal Air Force Museum and this Indian temple which I can't remember the number of now (its long and indian) but that I was really excited to see. But i got off one stop out of my zone and so got charged and then hadn't swiped my card properly at another station and so got charged again and then, to top it all off, i left my favourite and only scarf which Simon found for me in 2nd year on the train and that was just too much. Being a tourist was suddenly not fun anymore. So I went home, moped a little, got over it, booked my train to Cambridge for tomorrow and got in touch with one of the musos that the jewellery lady had told me about. He said he would take me to an open mic night. He never did. All in all a big old fail of a day! But I will never forget St Pauls Cathedral or Christopher Wren and at least I still have yummy english lollies :)
So next time you hear from me I will be in either Cambridge or Dundee. Looking forward to getting out of London to somewhere smaller and more accomodating to the single traveller. I have had a fantastic time in London, especially fantastic for having met and stayed with Stacey. But I look forward to returning next time with a friend or two in tow.
Over and out!