So I’m sort of behind in my blogging, but I’ve been out until decently late in the evening and have not had time to sit down and write. Takes me around an hour to create a post, especially if they have photos, so it’s been difficult to find the time.
August 22: I visited the Buckingham Palace, which was a lot more grand than Kensington Palace. Queen Elizabeth II lives here (but she is away for the summer, hence why it is open for visitors right now), and it was just really grand and posh.
We had to buy our tickets 2 days in advance, we had to go through airport-esque security, scanning bags in those plastic bins and going through metal detectors and such, and we weren’t allowed to take any photos inside. I personally thought it was a ton of hassle, but I guess I can’t go to London and not go to Buckingham Palace.
As I didn’t have any photos of the inside, I can only describe it as over-the-top and lavish. Yes, it was a sight to behold, each room decorated with priceless art, gold, red velvet, jewels, and beautiful architecture. But it was to the point that every room began to look the same. I honestly can’t imagine living in that palace, it’s just too much. Still, definitely a must-see in London.
Afterwards, we found yet more Asian food, this time Chinese, in a bustling place not far from the Palace and from Victoria Station:
It looks better than it tasted. I think I’ll stick to non-Asian foods from now on in London. It’s just not the same as home. Although that Korean food I had the other day was amazing.
We headed over to the Natural History Museum, which was actually more interesting than the British Museum. It talked a lot of about how the Earth came to be, its natural processes and minerals, and was basically Geography 12 all over again but in a more interesting and interactive manner.
Is that not the coolest escalator you’ve ever seen? Definitely the best part of this museum.
After the museum, we wanted to head back to the hotel, but upon arriving at the underground station:
Yeah… there’s no way we’d be able to get home. Rush hour in London makes rush hour in Vancouver seem tame. People flooded the station as far as the eye could see. So we went to eat dinner instead.
We went to Pret A Manger, which is this cafe chain in London that I’d been dying to try ever since coming across the name in Sophie Kinsella’s books when I was younger. It was (most unfortunately) too late to have coffee, so we had some sparking juice and a chicken and pasta salad instead.
The next day, we visited Big Ben tower and the London Parliament buildings, aka the Palace of Westminster. Again, airport-like security and no photos inside, so I don’t have photos of the inside. But the place used to be a palace, so I think that kind of gives you an idea of its grandiose architecture and design. I noticed that the way that the government works here is very similar to Canada’s. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and I actually managed to pay attention the whole time.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t tour the inside of Big Ben, as it is only open to residents of the Westminster area. Not even residents of London, just Westminster. But admiring it from the outside is just as great. It looks beautiful in photos.
Afterwards, we walked over the Westminster Bridge overlooking the River Thames, and honestly that is probably the highlight of my vacation thus far. I got to eat lunch right next to the River and it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. It looked like the opening scene of a movie, or a photo on a postcard, or something… and I couldn’t believe that I got to see it with my own eyes. I was blown away. Such breathtaking views.
Afterwards, we briefly visited the Westminster Abbey, the famous cathedral. Fun fact: Will and Kate got married here!
Later that night, my family and I tried Jamie Oliver, an Italian restaurant that was apparently big in London (according to my friend). However, we were very disappointed by the quality of the food.
My pasta was very watered down, plain, and bland, even after sprinkling on parmesan and pepper. And the portions were tiny for their price- it looks decent here, but we were still hungry after eating our entrees.
I believe that this was a “Strawberry refresher” of some sort- but it was terrible. It was expensive, sour, and comprised mostly of ice. It was rather pricey for a non-alcoholic beverage as well.
More to come later! It’s almost midnight here and I must get to bed. May not have the chance to blog until I get home- tomorrow is my last full day here!
Observation #5: The transit system here is so efficient, I love it. There is even 24-hour transit in Central London, with some buses coming every half hour in the middle of the night. What I would do to have 24-hour transit in Vancouver.
Observation #6: The tube is really, really hot. Both in the trains and in the stations. May be due to the sheer amount of people in the stations/trains (see photo above), but I sweat up a storm every time I enter an underground station.
Observation #7: Unlike Vancouver, there is a plastic box around bus operators (for safety), and you are not allowed to speak to them when the bus is in motion. Buses in central London are all double-decker (I love it). I also noticed that there are no homeless people on any transit systems, which there is a lot of in Vancouver.