London - Part 1
Apologies for the minor delay in posting. I've been smashing out 20,000+ steps a day trying to get from attraction to attraction in London to make sure I miss absolutely nothing.
Let's start back on the plane into London. It was a dilemma and a half. Firstly, my 8pm flight was cancelled. This was changed to a 10pm flight. Said flight was subsequently delayed close to an hour because everyone on the plane was struggling to sit down. I mean that in the nicest way but my frustration was steadily rising as the time trickled by.
It started with a father and son changing seats so they could sit together as their original seats were separated. Fair enough. Except this created a trickle effect of people moving seats to the point where all the way at the back of the plane people were left standing trying to figure out a seating solution. Flight attendants were notified and thus ensued a 45 min+ struggle of movement up and down the plane trying to get everyone seated.
To make matters worse this is an overnight flight, London is a decent amount of time ahead of New York meaning we'd left in the early hours of the morning, London time. I had just settled down to sleep when the cabin lights were ramped back up for Dinner. Who the hell has dinner at midnight?!
Anyway, I digress.
I did arrive in London, albeit sleep deprived. After arrival I navigated the tube system to the eastern suburb of Romford where I've been staying for the past few nights with a couchsurfer.
Romford is somewhere I honestly never thought I'd be but it's nice enough and easy enough to navigate.
On the afternoon of my first day I was taken on a tour of London's famous landmarks including Big Ben, Westminster, Trafalgar Square, the London Eye and Buckingham Palace. After the mini tour we (me and my host) went to a pub in Angel and watched a free comedy event. I crashed pretty hard that night (needed my beauty rest).
Day 1 started with a bang. I navigated my way successfully into the city and over to King's Cross Station. I then joined up with my Harry Potter tour to commence a very thrilling three hours of my life. We wandered the streets while our guide broke down scenes are showed us various places they had been filmed. We saw the inspiration behind Diagon Alley and where Knockturn Alley was filmed. We also saw some buildings near Scotland Yard which had served as useful props.
I had a wonderful time. I loved how my guide would show us a scene on her iPad and then point behind her and say "see?" it just made everything so clear. We finished up the tour in Borough Market and I got a world famous sausage roll that was the size of my fist. Very good!
At the end of the tour I headed out along the Thames with no particular destination in mind. I just knew I had an afternoon to explore. I ended up in front of the Shakespeare Globe Theatre.
I decided to join a tour in the spur of the moment so I headed inside. Alas, I was informed the tours were finished for the day but they were doing a matinee showing of 'Much Ado About Nothing' and I was welcome to snag a ticket.
So I did.
I grabbed a 5 pound standing ticket and headed inside. Being a solo traveller does have its perks at times. I walked straight through the crowd to the front row and plopped my bag down. Space taken.
A 6ft 6ish man was standing in front of me with his children (I was confused too!) so I politely asked if I could stand in front of him during the show with his children so I could see and he kindly obliged.
The show was fantastic! In a good/bad turn of events, depending on how you look at it, I was standing right by the steps leading up to the stage and this show was very active. Actors were moving up and down the steps constantly or shouting from the crowd. I was having to leap out of the way on more than one occasion and one time I was shouldered bumped by an actor sneaking onto the stage for his next scene. I suppose I got to get up close and personal though!
After the show I headed to find a nice little Italian restaurant near the West End and had a quick dinner. I then walked a few streets along and attended the 7:30p showing of Agatha Christie's 'The Mouse Trap'. I hadn't been planning on attending a West End show given I just left Broadway but when my Harry Potter tour guide talked about this show and how its the longest running show ever, I was intrigued. Plus, I can't turn down Agatha!
The show was brilliant. The theatre was beautiful and the Scottish man beside me was hilarious, I think, I could barely understand him. But his theories on who the killer could be kept me entertained during the intermission.
Day 2 started with a two hour adventure out to the edge of the East of London to Hampton Court Palace. Designed by Henry VIII and his second wife Anne Boleyn. The palace is incredible! Photos simply do not do it justice but I'll share what I can with you as a snippet of the things I saw.
How funny is this for example, a woman remembered solely for rejecting a Princes' advances:
I particularly loved the multiple staircases and the grandeur of the painted ceilings. Everything just screamed deluxe indulgence. I listed to a talk on Anne Boleyn in the Great Hall and learnt that previously there had been H & A symbols littering everything that had to be removed following her death. Troubling stuff.
There was a man who walked past me while I was eating who quietly exclaimed to no one in particular "you know what, I like this palace." It was as if he was touring to see if he should purchase or not and had made a decision that it'd do.
I particularly enjoyed the jousting tournament which took place in the gardens in hour of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee. Which I haven't actually talked about yet but may be the biggest deal to the brits I've seen. They're losing it over the Queen this weekend, wearing union jack's on every inch of their body and singing god save the Queen in the streets.
It also means everything is stupid busy at the moment but I'm dealing with it like an adult, which involves sighing at slow walkers and waiting in lots of lines.
After my morning exploring I travelled back into the city and set off to do some more exploring. I found Abbey Lane, home of the Beatles, and took a basic bitch photo on the crosswalk. It's an actual working crosswalk by the way, which means interrupting traffic to stand there like a dope.
After Abbey Lane I caught two buses over to Notting Hill to see some of the sets from the film including the Travel Bookstore and the Big Blue Door. I did love the little thrill I got seeing these sets up close and realising that I was that close to where actors had been before me.
In the evening I joined a 'Jack the Ripper' tour and learnt about what had previously been called the 'Whitechapel Killer' because of this chapel in the area:
My guide was super knowledgeable and I particularly loved the detail he told us about each of the victims lives leading up to their deaths. He even dropped in his favourite suspect and why at the end.
Overall, another long but fantastic day.
More to come!
Till next time,