Thursday, January 24, 2008

Day 39 - London - 8th Jan 2008

So after a particularly bad night for both of us we didn't get out of the hotel till 1:30pm. We popped into Mark's & Spencers down the road which is like the brit version of david jones except with actually quite a good food hall. But today they had refrigeration problems so half the food wasn't even available, Megan got her soda and we managed to find the nearest park, Finsbury Circus to bum at for a bit. It's a bit weird when a circus is actually just denotes a round piece of land. Finsbury Circus is an actual park with a bowling green in the middle but Piccadilly Circus is a glorified roundabout at the intersection of 3 roads or something.

Anyhoo, we set off for downtown and saw the London Stock Exchange and all that, we got to the Monument to the great fire of London and saw it being restored which is disappointing. I guess that's one of the issues with traveling in winter everything is under renovations or closed. The other problem with traveling in winter is that you have to stop every 2 hours and eat. Your body just burns through so much food. So I got myself a sub of the day for 1.99 pounds at subway, Mmmm meatball sammy.

We headed for the Tower Bridge and on the way also bypassed the Tower of London and saw an ice rink which I squealed at. But of course we also squealed at Tower Bridge, and after 6 years since I was last in this city I finally walked across it.

The weather was still windy and cloudy but relatively dry. The southbank walk was nice and we passed the Globe Theatre and had a wander through the Tate Modern, which has as its most recent installation a gigantic crack down the middle of it's exhibition floor called amusingly the turbine hall. I love modern art. Afterwards we trotted along the newish millennium bridge towards St Paul's cathedral. I was thoroughly disappointed that they fixed the wobble of the bridge.

A attempt to make it to Leicester square on the tube was thwarted by "passenger activity", aka the tube's version of saying someone jumped the tracks I guess. So the Piccadilly line was all but shut down and we ended up walking from Holborn through Coventry Garden. We had dinner at the West End Kitchen which I found using some dubious directions like off a treasure map. I also discovered that Gammon steak is some piece of salty ham.

In our bid to find chinatown we ended up walking around in a circle through Piccadilly circus and Soho, the red light district. In fact it was only about 1 street away from where we were but we walked in the opposite direction. London is funny, even it's red light district is more quaint then seedy. Chinatown itself was small and spans about 2 streets. Not incredibly exciting.

We tubed it to Tower Hill for the Ceremony of Keys at the Tower of London. Whilst waiting we were watching people ice skate and this girl fell 4 times in succession the last of which was pretty hard. I couldn't stop laughing. I know it's bad but it was hella funny and the skate marshals couldn't really skate themselves and one of them just looked at her and shook his head. The ceremony of the keys was very interesting, something that has happened non-stop for about 600 years or so. It's basically a bunch of soldiers locking up the Tower of London in a very formal fashion. Possibly fantastic if it wasn't for the blizzard winds descending upon London at that very minute.

Going down the tube stairs on the way back to the hotel I managed to stack it. I guess it was karma for laughing at the girl but at least my stack was very graceful in comparison. We got back and all I craved was a hot cup of Tang. If you're mainland Chinese you'd understand. It seems that the UK doesn't have Tang, nor do any of the Hongkie Asian supermarkets. Major disappointment.

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