I came up with the London travel plan a couple of weeks ago, when I realized, that I have read quite a few novels set in London (either historical or contemporary), but actually had no idea of the city anymore. I’ve been there on a class trip in 1992 and I remember a lot of the trip, but not much of the city. This had to change and I think with this trip I managed to get a good overall impression, I’ve got some sort of idea where different landmarks are located and just got a feeling of the city. So I can proudly say: “Mission accomplished!”
I wanted to write a rather short post about the trip in a “Been there, done that” sort of way. But I’m incapable of keeping it short. I’m a rambler I know. At least I try to not do this too meticulous… And I have to split this into four different posts, otherwise it’s going to be much too long. Every entry will be too long anyway and although they are more or less written, I probably only will put up the first (two). Sorting, uploading and tagging the photos took too much time already…
I flew to London via Heathrow Terminal 5 and at least now I know that getting off at Terminal 5 is much more comfortable than switching flights there :-). When the plane rolled to the gate and passed all the Air Canada planes on the runway I got a bit sentimental though. And my really tight schedule for Friday was already in danger of being screwed up, when it took ages to claim the luggage and I got pretty antsy on the tube to Piccadilly Circus.
I had to get off there to collect my London Pass at the Visitor Centre (the London Pass office closes at 04:30 PM, which would have been too late for my schedule). The first thing I (re-)learned then was, that the London Underground really is under ground unlike the subway trains in German cities, which run rather directly under the surface. In London it can take up to five minutes until you reach daylight and that all added to my nervousness. And of course the temperature did as well, it was freaking hot, I had my suitcase and my backpack and my jacket and I was so sweaty so fast. Ick!
I continued to hurry to my hotel and just had time to carry my suitcase to my room (on the 3rd floor *sigh*) before I hurried off to Regent’s Park immediately. Thank God the performance at the Open Air Theatre started a few minutes late, so I got there in time and all was fine. I could finally rest my feet and eat some of the snacks I bought at the tube station, because I didn’t have the chance to get some lunch in between.
It was the children’s version of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, which meant there were a lot of kids in the audience, but also a helpful interactive prologue which basically gave a summary of the play. The play itself was a bit shortened as well I guess, but it was a great experience nonetheless and I’m determined to go to the theatre more often in Germany in the future. It can be such a worthwhile experience. I really regretted to not have put on some sun screen by the way, as the sun was burning. No rain clouds visible. And they haven’t been for the rest of the four days except a tiny little shower on Sunday night. Forecasts suck!
After the play I walked through the Regent Park and Marylebone to a pretty crowded Oxford Street. I’m not much of a shopping girl, but was tempted to a small shopping spree at HMV. 3 DVDs from a vast collection for a sum of £ 20. I could have bought 4-5 but didn’t find a 6th, so it only was “3:10 to Yuma”, “Rendition” and “Eastern Promises” (as a first part of Hai_dis birthday present, which is not a surprise present anymore but I had to make sure she didn’t already got it elsewhere *g*) And I finally manage to get some lunch / early dinner at Pizza Hut, which offered a pretty good deal, fast service and some funny ad for their lunch deal (“Because office gossip won’t spread itself”).
This first “get to know London again” walk continued further via Charing Cross Road and a detour to Amato on Old Compton Road where I had some delicious chocolate cake dessert. I then continued via Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square and Whitehall to Big Ben and the House of Parliament.
I booked a ticket for the London Eye online in advance and thought I would get some fast track entrance, as I booked for a specific flight. But as the queues weren’t too long I just had to get in the queue, which was fine as well. It is quite the experience and the view on the city is spectacular.
I strolled some more along the Themse and tried to find the IMAX with the huge Dark Knight billboard which I saw from up above.. I did find it, but every screening on the weekend was sold out, which made me a bit anxious that the early / late evening screenings in other cinemas in the city could be sold out as well. I just had to wait and see.
Around 10 PM I got back to the hotel and finally managed to inspect the room, which was really tiny. And the bath even more, I guess that’s what a trailer bathroom looks like :-). But it was usable, so it was ok as I just was there to sleep. On the first night I slept rather badly though, because the mattress dipped to the side and I probably unconsciously feared to fall out of bed in the middle of the night. And even with an open window it was just too freaking hot. A usual July night in the city, I guess…