Saturday, 15 August 2015

London calling!

Friday started at the ungodly hour of 4am for a 6.30am flight to London! Despite issues with shuttle buses making me late, at 6.30am I was indeed sitting on my plane as it closed the doors and headed for the runway. Leaving Italy was the easy part, though. Getting into the UK at the other end of the flight proved harder. The immigration officer didn't seem to understand the purpose of 'travel', and his brain was having trouble following the logic of 'I've come to your country because I want to see your country'. I wound up giving him a tour of all the stamps in my passport before I could convince him that I was in the UK legitimately (and thereby getting another stamp in my passport!)

After withdrawing some pounds sterling to get me started and transporting myself and my luggage to the city centre, I found my way to the hostel and checked in. After a long argument with the reception guy over Marmite vs. Vegemite, I headed for the nearest Underground station to get myself set up with an Oyster travel pass (aka functional myki ^^) and made my way to the Tower of London. I had a makeshift picnic on the steps out front with sandwiches and juice from the supermarket,  and then I vetoed going inside in favour of Thames-hopping. I crossed Tower Bridge twice, going both ways, then walked west along the north bank and went south over London Bridge, stopped in at Tate Modern Gallery to admire the view of London from the top floor, and then went north again over Blackfriars Bridge to get to the Underground station, before finally heading home, quite tired.

Today started a bit late, but with a rather pleasant task - I carried my suitcase around the corner to a courier shop to FINALLY be rid of it! Yay! No more lugging too much luggage! From there I jumped on the Underground and took the District line all the way to Edgware Road, and then changed for one stop to get to Baker Street. You guessed it - the Sherlock Holmes museum! I queued for a little over an hour at that time of day, befriending a Russian guy in the queue next to me. Once we got inside, the cramped lower floors were a re-creation of Holmes and Watson's rooms at Baker Street, while the upper floors housed models of his more famous cases. I was in the museum for well over an hour, despite its small size, because I wound up befriending all the staff - after the number of tourists on a 'duty visit' to the Holmes museum, it was a joy to them to have a true fan there.

It was mid- to late afternoon by the time I left, so I hopped on the nearest red London double-decker headed towards Hyde Park and hoped for the best. I certainly got a surprise when I saw the opulence of the houses around me and realised yes - I'm going down Park Lane! (To be fair, all of London's a Monopoly board.) After a little bit of zigzagging I found both a supermarket and an unoccupied corner of Hyde Park and sat down for a late-afternoon picnic. Though it's more sculpted than the parks we're used to, it certainly fulfils all the wishes of its patrons, with deckchairs for lounging around and paddle or rowboats for floating on the Serpentine.

Eventually I decided it was getting late, so I headed back towards Kensington underground station. I was changing hostels for the rest of my time in London, so I went back to Earl's Court for my bags (now handsfree - yay!) and trekked my way to the new hostel. It's a bit further afield than I'd expected, but with a bus to Waterloo every 10 minutes directly out front, I'm sure I'll survive :)

Earl's Court, London Underground

The Tower of London (*not a real tower)
Tower Bridge!

Me + Tower Bridge!

Walking over Tower Bridge!

Me on Tower Bridge!

Me under Tower Bridge!

No idea who they were, but love the uniforms!

London Bridge!

Marylebone, Baker Street and Lord's

The Sherlock Holmes museum!

The bobby! (Not Lestrade)


Professor Moriarty

The Hound of the Baskervilles

Mr Jabez Wilson - Red-Headed League

"It was the band! The speckled band!"

The Man with the Twisted Lip

The dinner tabke

Holmes' violin and chemistry corner

Double decker bus!

Land in Park Lane!

Picnic in Hyde Park

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