Our first visit to London, Exciting! We got up at a reasonable hour and headed off to the train station for our 10am train. We didn’t have to catch an early train, as it is supposedly very busy in the morning, with all the commuters. We had to carry our bags around for two of the three days we were going to be there, so we had packed very small bags, with minimal stuff, so we wouldn’t have to lug the stuff around.
We hopped off the train at Victoria Station, and out into London. Almost got run over by a bus within a block, as I was staring simultaneously at the other red double decker buses, and the old stone buildings that were nestled amongst the newer, more modern ones.
A few blocks walk took us to Westminster Cathedral. Not the really big one, but still pretty big! We wandered around, checked out all the small chapels dedicated to different saints, and marveled at the sheer amount of pretty stone that was used in the building.
After that, we walked down to Westminster Abbey, which we didn’t go in to, as the line was out to the road, and halfway down the block. We did admire the outside. Walked down past the Houses of Parliament, and the House of Commons. Such a fancy building. We wandered through a park, and took in our first view of the Thames. A brownish, fast flowing river.
We walked back up the road, and past Big Ben, who chimed 1pm for us. Headed over the bridge to South Bank. There were so, so many other tourists there with us.
We wandered past the London Eye, with a conscious decision not to go on it, like the hundreds of people lined up, waiting. It was near Easter, so there were carrots in the trees, and bunnies all around.
We took more subway, via Waterloo Station, with it’s pretty exterior, and ended up in Leicester Square (hey, these places are named just like in Monopoly!), where we sat for a few moments. There were some very cool, probably super old, knobbly trees, in amongst the rush of people and bustle of city.
After our lunch in the park, we wandered an indirect way to Trafalgar Square. It was quite weird walking through near deserted streets for a few blocks, to come right smack into the middle of tourist central, hundreds of people, as we entered Trafalgar Square. We were greeted firstly by a big, blue cock, who stood out the most, on the fourth pedestal, that is reserved for changing art installments.
Trafalgar square was pretty, if you ignored all the people. Some lions, a couple of fountains, and surrounded by buildings. We had a quick look in the National Gallery, which was free. One of the paintings I saw was of Lady Jane Grey. She was Queen of England for just 9 days until she was removed from the throne, and sent to the Tower of London to be executed. I think she was only 16.
After the gallery, we subwayed to the Covent Garden Markets, which have been around for quite a while. It is quite an interesting place, back in the 1600’s was a developing area around a square, with an open air fruit and veg market. Over time it fell into disrepute, and for a while was a red light district, as taverns, brothels etc opened, and artists and poorer people moved in. They built the roof cover in the 1800’s, and was more organised after that. It has been various things, but is now more of a tourist destination, with cafes, shops, and a crafty market area. We ate at the Pie Shop, and at Creme de la Crepe, where I had an amazing, fantastic apple crumble crepe. Yum. Nearby was Punch and Judy Pub, which has been around since 1787, and is thought to be named after the puppet show that used to take place at the market.
Lastly we headed to King’s Cross Station, to see the infamous Platform 9 and 3/4 (or the representation of). There was a very big line to get a picture taken there, which I didn’t want to stand in, so I have a picture of it, just not with me in it. Maybe one day we will go back when there are no people. There was a cute little shop where you could buy scarves, cups, wands etc.
We stayed with one of Dale’s friends from back in NZ, Jerome and Amy.