Sunday, August 25, 2013

London 2013 Part 1

The Planning
I told myself that if I did not go off to grad school in September, that I would go somewhere in August and I set my sights on London. After I got confirmation that I was in fact, not going anywhere, I booked my ticket and hotel. I also booked tickets to two plays, a cruise on the Thames and the Dungeons. Everything was done in about a week.

The journey TO
People should smell themselves. There is no graceful way to say that I had to sit next to a man for the 10 hour flight who had the distinct stench of manure and I was not pleased about this at all. I got a few reprieves - when they disinfected the aircraft and when either of us had to go to the bathroom. I wasn't the only person who realised his smell - whenever he passed in the aisle, the other passengers would make the funny face. You know it. Other than the smell, it was an overnight flight and the seat could not be more uncomfortable so I got 2 hours of sleep at most. This was compounded by the man in front of me who had his seat inclined over me for the ENTIRE ride.

Day 1
I arrived on Wednesday 14th August around 9 a.m. in Gatwick airport. I took the Gatwick Express to Victoria station and then took the tube to Paddington station, where my hotel, The Hyde Park Radnor, was 3 minutes away on foot. It was seriously in the best location - a bit away from all the crazy city noises, close to lots of food and a station with connections to four different lines. When I arrived, it was too early to check-in, so I lodged my bags and went exploring. I walked up to Baker Street, where I visited 221b Baker Street, home of Sherlock and Watson. The guard outside was really nice to the hoards of people who posed for pictures. There were props for pictures and we were encouraged to touch everything which was awesome. I met a Russian girl, Olga, while waiting in the hour long line. She was very nice and funny and willing to do all the touristy things, no matter how embarrassing. This explains the only photos of me from this entire trip. We got split up somewhere as we were going up the stairs when she stopped to take pictures with the ladies in costume who worked in the museum.

I then went back to the hotel to check-in and put my stuff in the room. I booked a single room, which was on the 4th floor of this hotel, which thankfully had a lift. The room was not air conditioned, but seeing as the place is cool, an open window fixed any temperature issues. It was a small, comfortable room. I had enough space for my suitcase and all my other crap that I accumulated and dumped on the floor while I was there. I tried watching television one night, but the signal wasn't the best. I should mention that the wifi signal wasn't the best either, which is why I couldn't post anything while there.

Then I headed out for Oxford Street and dinner. I didn't do much, seeing as the lack of sleep was creeping up on me. I crept back to the hotel after 9 p.m. (shocked myself that I could find it without a map *gasp*)and was out like a light as soon as I hit my mattress.

Day 2
After breakfast, I headed out for the lower part of Westminster. I stopped off close to Buckingham Palace and braved the crowd to see the teeny tiny little guards (they were so far away) through the bars. The square nearby was equally filled with loads of people. I liked the fountain. There were these men all around it.

The first thing I loved from this area was the view. Since most of the modern-designed buildings (and the Eye) are on this side, there was almost always a decent shot. Unfortunately, the lighting was terrible due to heavy cloud cover. There was also the matter of the crowd...

I passed by St. James' Park for a quick stop before going closer to the Thames.

I stood in the 'card only' line for about 10 minutes and went in. No pictures were allowed in the main part of the abbey, so I have nothing to show for there. I did take some by the garden and then outside again.

I crossed the Westminster bridge and walked towards the London Tower.

I went across to King's Cross station to look for platform 9 3/4 but I could only find platforms 1 and 2 and no sign for the others. St. Pancras station, this huge red gorgeous structure was across the street so I checked it out. After that, my feet screamed for some attention so I headed back to Paddington.
I ate dinner in the San Marco Ristorante E Pizzeria on London Street. The service and food in that place was excellent. I sat next to a nice Japanese man who was in London for the day on business. He was relaxing before a 17-hour plane ride (insert wide eyed expression) back home. By the time I finished eating, it was close to 9 p.m.
As a side note, all my shoes from Trinidad were not appropriate for long day wear. The only plus for this one was that I was able to determine which new shoes would also lack mercy. I also learned these two days not we wear nice loose almost-billowy dresses when walking around in the windy streets of London. My panties showed at least three times... I hope I'm just paranoid about that.

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