Upon arrival at Heathrow Airport, I purchased a London Pass. It’s supposed to save me time and money, basically a sort of prepaid bulk-entry rate deal. After I saw the majority of places I wanted to see were on there, and more significantly, seeing their entry prices, this card seemed like a good idea.
I then headed to the Underground and got excited as I saw the train pull up. The subway cars here look really low and compact, but I think it’s mostly because the roof tapers in on the upper coeners. Looks kinda cool. Seems I arrived on a bit of a tricky weekend, since a few key lines are not operational this weekend. Tourist season is over, so maintenance season has begun, I suppose. Finally getting to the place I’m staying at near Battersea Park, I ran to a local pub for a square meal and a beer, washed up and went straight to bed.
Day One begins. I set off into the crisp,
cool cold morning air under beautiful partly cloudy skies. After scrutinizing the bus schedule (first on the wrong side of the street), I hop onto a red double decker and away! Victoria Station, end of bus route 44 – I step off and start walking with a vague notion of going to Westminster Abbey, turn a corner and what do you know, I’m at the gates of Buckingham Palace. And loads of tourists taking pictures. Time to move on. Alas, Westminster Abbey, and basically all the church places are not open Sundays. So I sit in on the services. Very regimented, but interesting to be a part of. Plus I got to hear the choir singing.
Writing my day this way is going to take forever, and I need sleep. Now for the blitz to be recorded as a blitz.
Buckingham Palace – veni vidi exeunt.
Westminster Abbey – found it by following sound of church bells. Quite a lovely sight in morning sun. Sunday service, sat in Alecicus Opecum chair in Quire, special service sung by Choir to commemorate the dedication of the Abbey 13th October 1269. Exited through the Nave and gates into a massive crowd trying to peer in and taking photos. Odd feeling.
Parliament Building – saw as I walked around Abbey. Its grandeur caught me by surprise. Turned to my left and saw
Big Ben – thought to myself “gee, these Brits sure know how to build their buildings large.”
Churchill War Museum – In the underground war rooms used during Battle of Britain/Blitz and WWII. Many rooms left just as they were at the end of the war in 1945.
The Fox and Anchor – went looking for a pub to have a Sunday roast. found it. Beef roast with potatos, pudding and veggies. Ale out of a metal stein. Talked to some Germans who wondered what the pudding was.
Tower of London (attempted) – crucial Underground line not running = lengthy detour resulting in me trying to get there on foot from the wrong side of the river. Arrived too close to closing time for it to be worth using my entry pass. Need bathroom, nearly gave up and went on grass 5-6 times. Finally let in to paid toilet by nice guard.
Bicycle – got a Barclays 24-hour usage key, rented bicycle in attempt to make it across London Bridge for last exhibition of day. Could not find entrance and struggled with riding on the wrong side of road. Did get to ride back and forth London Bridge twice, though. Gave up and headed towards St. Pauls, where I docked the bicycle.
Millennium Bridge – stumbled across while wandering small alleys near river. All metal and futuristic looking. And hey, there’s the Tate Modern! I should try to go to that.
Tate Modern (Closing Time already) – gg
South Bank – wandering westward along riverside promenade. Man in top hat playing flaming tuba. Nearly everything interesting is closed. Apparently that’s how Sundays are here. Bookstore! Stop to read. (Retrospect: mistake, should have secured a meal before kitchens close)
Jubilee Bridge – back up to North Side of Thames. All dark now. Cold. Hungry. Need bathroom.
Embankment Station area – food places don’t look so great. Hurry on.
Charing Cross Station area – restaurants all closed. Mostly dark and empty of pedestrians. Pubs open, but kitchens closed.
Trafalgar Square – quiet and darkish, but not empty enough to use the fountain as toilet.
Leicester Square – bright lights and people again. Lots of theaters. Finally a restaurant that is still open.
Fiore Cafe – apparently a bit of a tourist trap, but service was fast and food decent and available. Pizza with shrooms, olives, artichokes etc. EMPTY BLADDER.
Homeward – it’s past 11pm, need to get back before Underground stops. Many seem to share idea = third rush hour. Line closures make life difficult. Takes nearly 1 hour to go 4 stations and take a short bus ride. Still feel a deep sense of satisfaction walking up the dark and sleepy road for making it back to where I started the day.