a community serious about adventuring
Friday September, 17th, was crisp, sunny and unplanned, as per usual. We bought an Oyster card (a £19 transport card that allows you unlimited use of tubes and trains) and hopped on a train heading for Paddington Station, London. There was no where to sit as a pair so we decided to stand in the middle car (the exit and toilet section of all trains). The door of the train has a window with no child-fitted limitations, so we pulled down the windows and watch Reading rush by. Our animal instincts begged us to stick our heads and tongues out the window, but the lightening fast bullet-trains coming in the opposite direction may have turned us both into Ichabod Cranes. It was very humbling to think of the skytrain system in Vancouver at that moment. We laughed. Sorry skytrain, but you’ve definitely got some UK competition.
Off the train, heads and all, and into the underground station, the tendency is to put your metro ticket away for safe keeping, but in England, and most of Europe, you need this card for both entering and exting train and tube stations. It’s a pain, but really cool to see an advanced transportation system. London’s Underground is the oldest and second largest metro station in the world.
We walked into London’s colourfully decorated Chinatown, but our visit was shortlived realising we would soon be seeing the real Chinatown’s, in China. We visited Buckingham Place which was regal and packed with tourists taunting the motionless guards. Green Park, which sits next to the palace is conveniently very green, and sprinkled with lawn chairs that look very appealing but come with a £1.50 charge for an hour of sitting. Don’t worry, grass sitting can be done right next to these chairs, free. Covent Garden, is an open court market, always featuring authentically English street performers (very comparable to Granville Street’s regulars, but haven’t seen any English Spandy Andy’s meandering the streets yet). We were lucky enough to catch “The Tom Show” and his really unattractive, but magical, maneurvering through a stringless tennis racket.
Off to Tower Hill, we saw famous Tower Bridge, this is not the same London Bridge that Fergie has humped across, but another famous London bridge overhanging the River Thames. We were able to catch a glimpse of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre before heading to Waterloo for “a ride in the sky” on the London Eye. The London Eye was once the largest ferris wheel in the world, but has now been surpassed by the Singapore Flyer (42 stories high). The ride is 30 mins full of terrific photo ops and lots of self reminders to “keep your head up” for those who have a fear of heights (Worgan Milliams).
Completely nackered, we headed into posh Hyde Park to meet our friend Stirling at The Coal Hole pub. Catching up over pints of London Pride, we get the down low on one of London’s newest hotels, the Savoy. Opening at 10am on October 10th, 2010, The Savoy will be hoity-toity British hotelling. From tailed suit coats and white gloves at high tea, The Savoy’s most expensive suite costs £10,000 per night. A Chinese business man has been rumoured to have rented it out (that’s him and his staff) for the entire first month of operation.
After a round of English Jagger, we staggered off to Mr. Griffiths’ flat where we feasted on wine, cheese and good conversation. Another pub stop and an English Italian meal later (the restaurant name escapes me and remains somewhere at the bottom of my pint of Strongbow) we caught the late “milk stop” train home (a train that makes all the stops) and found our first unbroken sleep. After many sleepless nights, we had found the cure to our painful plane lag. Pints, wine, vodka, repeat.
Scotland tomorrow for some haggis and whiskey.
Ps. A Subway on a British map is not actually that, it’s a walkway that let’s you walk under the street instead of crossing it.