11 May 2009


Mkay, I am bored as it seems, and as such I will use English for this blog entry. A motto could be „Everybody knows English, and if they don’t, they ought to". An excuse for my Romanian readers could be the fact that it is about London (not a very good excuse though because the entries about Rome should have been in Italian). A motive could be curiosity – I suspect I will be limited by (my) English. Anyway, without further ado, I give you... London!

The first of three days spent in London almost a month ago started very early. Having slept only two hours, my mood could have done with some improvements while waiting to board the airplane. Fortunately we boarded the plane among the first and we settled on the very front row. There, if „something” should happen you probably wouldn’t even realize it, but at least you have adequate leg room. Not having to lick my own knees enabled me to sleep through the journey to London. Actually the journey to Luton, which is one of London’s airports, the one so far to the North, it’s in Scotland. The weather was indeed very Scottish – low clouds and drizzle (note that my representation of Scottish weather may not reflect reality, it just felt Scottish).

In Luton, after passing customs and walking officially on British soil, we met with the first, let’s say, oddity. In the bathroom, on the sink there are separate fossets for hot and cold water. Scalding and freezing that is. The only way to combine it would be in the sink which for a public bathroom I find unacceptable. Actually I find it unacceptable anywhere else also. It fits into the category “What were they thinking? Were they thinking (at all)?”. I also don’t know how Jeremy Clarkson has the nerve to mock anything or anyone, coming form the country of separate fossets and all.

But I digress. We took the shuttle bus to Victoria Station and then the Underground to London Bridge Station, near our hostel. There we checked in, left some luggage and most importantly, met with our (now) British liaisons, Emi and Anca. They offered to show us around the city and they started by going to the nearby Borough Market to have breakfast. I had an „award winning” hamburger (that’s what it was written on the stand) with egg and bacon and then an „ultra chocolate brownie”, the both of which kept me going up until evening. The others had some variations of the same hamburgers (with sausages) and some banana cake if I’m not mistaking. It seems we were lucky because usually the market is not that lively.

Near the ultra chocolate brownie stand…

From there, we went to the first point of interest – for me at least. Half of the group (we were 8 in total) spent about 2 hours roaming around the warship HMS Belfast which is moored between London Bridge and Tower Bridge. I will probably detail further these two hours in a later entry.

After finishing with the Belfast, we started towards Tower Bridge to catch up with the others. Fortunately, while we were wandering through the bowels of the ship the coulds dispersed and the weather had been upgraded to “just fine”.
The walkway along the Thames and the “Leaning Tower of Pizzas”.

The Tower Bridge

Mind that child! They say, but I don’t see any child waiting in queue.

We crossed the bridge and wandered a bit around in St. Katherine’s Docks – a posh area where you can park your yacht, if you have one.

After St. Katherine’s docks, we went to the Monument. Along the way, a classic London cab.

The Monument is a freestanding column whose height (61 meters) equals the distance from its base to the place where the Great Fire of London started in 1666. As it seems, it is the tallest freestanding stone column in the world and you can climb to the top of it – 311 spiral steps for which you receive a diploma.

The view from the top

A picture taken from the opposite side of the river, the top of the Monument can be seen where the brown building meets the blue one.

Still on top of the Monument…

Details of London’s skyline, of which I will complain later.

From the Monument we went on to St. Paul’s Cathedral. On the way, goofing around with some reflections.

Yay, double deckers!

Some of the newer double deckers are Volvo which I find a little disappointing.

At St. Paul’s we made a longer break, directly proportional to the feet ache I was experiencing.

Curiously enough (at least from my past experience with churches and cathedrals) they charge an entrance fee here. Having seen the line on the floor of St. Peter’s Basilica that marked the length of St. Paul’s, I would say that suffices.
The façade of St. Paul’s

From there, we went to Millenium Bridge, which we crossed in order to get to Tate Modern. While crossing it, I stopped for a panorama. Again London’s skyline, which, I am sorry to say, seems to be one of the ugliest I have ever seen. As far as I know, the new buildings must adhere to some sort of Urban Planning limiting height for example. There I see what are almost skyscrapers near 4 storey buildings. Ugly skyscrapers I might add (form that point of view, I think Warsaw has the upper hand). I was also going to pick on that “Torre Agbar” surrogate but “The Gherkin” opened one year and a half earlier than the similar building in Barcelona. It’s still ugly. Just remember that this is a subjective opinion, I am not an architect nor an aesthetician.

On the other bank of the Thames opposite St. Paul’s lies Tate Modern, an art gallery occupying a disused power station.
The Turbine Hall

From Tate we went slowly towards London Eye, along the bank of the Thames.
HMS President, on the other side.

When we reached London Eye, we found the queue to be unacceptably long and we also had to eat. With two excuses in mind, we let Emi guide us to a pub he knew, again, on the other side of the Thames.
London Eye, seen from the bridge.

The pub was right next to the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.

I had fish and chips, of course after making sure there were no bones in the fish. The fish was pretty generic, the batter was what gave it its taste.

During out late lunch/early dinner the sun had time to set...

...and so we proceeded to cross another time the river, in order to catch a ride on London Eye. Catch is the appropriate terminology here because we were on the next to last capsule. The price is high (17 euros, errr, I mean pounds…oh, but now it’s the same, ha ha) but I can almost say it is worth it.

That’s it for the pictures from the first day. After London Eye we walked around a bit more to Downing St., Trafalgar Square and to Picadilly Circus, none of which were memorable. Either that or my memory was affected by the horrible pain in my feet. And it would only get worse the next day…

1 comment:

Gogu said...

Ok... I just want to say that the Mini RULES BIG TIME...

Nice photos (really nice)....

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