On Monday, 2 October 2006 a not-so-little boy called Andrew finished a 46 day tour with Contiki and collapsed on his hotel bed and wondered, “What now?”. As had become habit, he went downstairs for a drink, and this is where this story begins.
I grabbed myself a beer and ordered a burger and chips from the bar (The London Pub do a fairly good burger) then headed outside to say goodbye to the guys from my tour. Most of them were planning to hang around for a few days, but some had flights out in the morning so it was a fairly early night.
I chatted to Bianca for a while, then Andrew and Bri came down and we had a few drinks before everyone decided it was time to stop pretending we weren’t tired and went to bed.
The following morning I met up with Laura, Heath and Leesa from the other Contiki tour and we headed out London sightseeing. We started with a jump on, jump off style bus tour of the main London tourist spots (funnily enough that’s all we did on that bus tour, jumped on, jumped off, then never jumped on again). We saw St Paul’s, Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey and the London Eye.
We got off the bus at Westminster for a look around. It was conveniently closed. To fill in time we took some photos of Big Ben, played in a phone box (more photos), then went to investigate tickets for the London Eye.
After a bit of a wander along the river’s edge we boarded a ferry heading upstream, when it decided to promptly rain on us all.
Many people have warned me, “Always carry an umbrella when in London.” This, I find funny though, as everyone sells umbrellas in London so you’re never more than a couple of steps away from one when it starts to rain. Additionally, they only last you one trip after which they blow inside out, or tear apart and are best disposed of in the nearest bin. So where does one find himself an umbrella that is small enough to “always carry” and strong enough to always hold together?
But I digress. After it rained we headed to a tube station: closed of course. So we headed to another. Then we headed back for drinks and dinner. If it doesn’t sound like we packed much in that day, that is correct, we didn’t. But we did all catch up a lot of much needed sleep before heading out. Put it this way, we had a large English breakfast at around 1:00, and that was the start of the day!
The following day was beautiful, clear and sunny and we headed straight for the London Eye. And what a perfect day for it. The Eye was a great thing to do early in a London tourist agenda. The views were amazing and it was a good opportunity to get your bearings. The ride went for around 30 minutes and got to a height of over 100 metres after about 15 minutes. It was great fun.
After the Eye we headed for Buckingham Palace for the Changing of the Guard. We didn’t see much of it, arriving later than most of the crowd, but there’ll be plenty of opportunities to go again I’m sure. Then it was off to Harrods.
I’ve never been into such a glitzy department store. I thought I was going to be kicked out for being under-dressed. We headed to the Krispy Kreme store inside the food court and each had one of Heath’s favourite doughnuts before jumping in the lift to explore the other levels. The doors opened at level 3 and in shon the golden glow of Christmas! Yes, Harrods have an entire Christmas decoration section fully set up with trees, lights, decorations, the works! We had to get out for a look (all the Bellbird gals will have to see this one day, you’ll absolutely love it)!
We spent a bit longer in Harrods before wandering through Hyde Park bound for Madame Tussauds. Leesa left us there to wander separately. Madame Tussauds was a lot better than I had expected. I had thought it would just be a few wax statues, but it was a whole interactive experience lasting a couple of hours. The statues themselves were amazing, some of them very real. It was creepy at times to look at them and not quiet know if they were people or figurines.
When we finished with the exhibition we headed for Leicester Square to look for show tickets then headed down to the National Gallery where there was a Manet to Picasso exhibition. This was really good, and I’m looking forward to seeing Monet’s house and garden when back in Paris! We lost Heath for a while so Laura and I sat out the front having a chat and watching the sun go down over Oxford Circus. When Heath reappeared we wandered to Piccadilly Circus and watched the lights just after sunset, very London!!!
As Bianca was heading off in the next few days I went to meet up with her at The Goose for dinner, where we had a chat and she gave me my ticket to Bath before she headed home and I headed to Heath and Laura’s room for a while before going back to the hostel.