For the most part I threw out my travel plan on London when I got here. I was never really happy with my London research. Thankfully London is full of things to do and what I came up with as I went was much better (patching things in production D: ). Also, compared to Iceland, London is incredibly affordable.
England loves their monarchy. I’ve had a crash history lesson on who killed who and why this week.
I spent all day Sunday at the Tower of London. I arrived after some light The Underground navigation and crossing London Bridge and joined a Yeoman tour. The yeoman was a great story teller and made the history of London tower entertaining and memorable. After the tour I saw the crown jewels. They’re stored in a giant walk through vault that we had to enter to view them. We weren’t allowed to take pictures, but they were very shiny.
Then I went to see the white tower, which was the original tower of London. More than once I noticed connections between the stories told and the Game of Thrones or Wheel of Time.
That night I took the Underground across town to eat at a British restaurant I had looked up. It was called MotherMash, and I had Cheesy mashed potatoes with sausage and onion gravy. It was the best. I went back a few times… also sticky toffee pudding.
Monday I found out I was near ground zero of some Americans exercising their right to free speech and peaceful protest. Facebook was furious. It was the NFL game in London.
I went to see the millennium bridge and Trafalgar square.
It turns out the British National Gallery was at Trafalgar square as well, so I stopped in. The highlights were some Monet paintings and a Michelangelo/Leonardo/ Raphael exhibit.
On the way home I passed Buckingham palace. I also went to go see the new Kingsman movie.
Tuesday I took a tour of the Parliament building and learned about some of the traditions they have. Sadly no pictures, but they showed us where the House of Lords and House of Commons debate and explained how the Parliament functioned. I was pleased the tour guide asked if I was a local.
Then I went on a Jack the Ripper tour and learned about his murderous rampage and toured the East end. Aside from the murder stories, the biggest take away was how much London has developed and changed in the last 100 years.
Wednesday I went to Stonehenge and Bath. Stone henge was interesting. They don’t know what it was used for. Bath is a small city west of London that had a few interesting things to see. Most noticeably all the buildings were the same color.
Thursday I went to see Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, School of Rock. It wasn’t quite as good as the movie but it was still good. The kids in the musical actually played the instruments in the musical, and at the end the pit orchestra left their seats to watch the kids performance.
After dinner I went to see the London Eye, and walked by parliament again before heading home.
In high school part of my job was to run a Giant Ferris Wheel… I could totally operate the London Eye. I’m trying not to get thrown out though.
Friday I took a train down to Paris. Paris is one of the places I’ve been to before. Last time was 17 years ago with my friends Bruce, Meryl, and Kate, among others. Back then they used the Frank instead of the euro, and you had to get those before you left because atms might not work with American cards. Things are way easier now.
The train experience was almost as eventful as the first one. The train there was fine though. I went to see the Cathedral of Notre dame, had some tasty street food, went on a river cruise, and went to the top of the Eiffel tower. The Eiffel tower took longer than expected with a lot of waiting in line. It had way more security than I remember it having back in 2000 which was sad to see. The whole thing was fenced off this time. Afterward I ate dinner and returned to the train station.
That’s when I found out “a signaling issue in the euro-tunnel” was causing “massive delays”. It turns out that after over two hours of standing around, not knowing if I’d be stuck in Paris without luggage, I won the train lottery. They cancelled all the trains scheduled to go from Paris to London before and after my train but not mine.
Saturday I went to see Wembley stratum. Then while looking for lunch in a completely different part of the city i stumbled upon a NFL block party. Dan Marino was there and the Lombardi trophy was there. There was a huge line to see it. Thankfully I know a place back home where I can see six of them. Dan Marino likes to speak there as well.
I’ve posted the rest of my London pictures here: London.