Taking in London’s sights on foot

Well, it seems that for all these years I thought the London bridge was that famous twin towered attraction, but it was Tower Bridge I was thinking of! The song confused me. Turns out the term applies to many bridges, and the medieval London bridge from the song was torn down 180 years ago, rebuilt, and destroyed yet again to make way for the current one.

Tower bridge, with some great clouds
Tower bridge, with some great clouds

I brought Cindy here, excited to show her the attraction, but this one wasn’t very interesting. Functional, to handle high traffic. At least it offered a great view of nearby Tower Bridge, the impressive one, and it’s twin tower pylons like two slender castles.  We walked the banks of the Thames toward it, a great way to enjoy views of the two towers without the crowds.

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Peace out y’all!

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Why London is even more charming in the winter

I arrived on day one and went directly to the pub.

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That’s actually just half true. It was a hotel (with an attached bar), and although I was hoping to stay, the bartender explained inbetween pouring pints that the rooms were full. I walked to another hostel, a long walk through a jumble of black taxis, suits and bow ties, double decker buses and red phone booths (though the fantasy of the phone booth is somewhat marred by the sex hotline stickers inside). I laughed to myself – I couldn’t turn the corner without coming face-to-face with a London cliché. And that was just the start!

The London red bus. There are so many, they begin to block your photos instead of starring in them
The London red bus. There are so many, they begin to block your photos instead of starring in them

Piccadilly Circus was where I found my hostel. Ah, Piccadilly Circus, one of my favourite place names ever – it’s just so silly and fun, I imagined it might be full of jugglers on unicycles, or bubble-blowing Beatles cartoons, or giant bears dressed as royal guards – wait, they actually have those? Oh. Cool! It’s actually more of a confusing intersection surrounded by billboards, like a small Times Square where roads and traffic islands overlap like a Tangram puzzle gone awry. Read more

When a budget airline ruins a holiday

I needed to leave Europe, fast. My visa was almost up, and I wanted to stay until New Years. What a good excuse to go to London for a while!

Saturday. Cindy and I arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport in time for our 10am flight to London with EasyJet. Cindy had never been, and was looking forward to long shopping streets and fish and chips. I was looking forward to bumping into Karl Pilkington in a cafe, seeing Jeremy Clarkson hoon past in a Mercedes, or spot David Attenborough admiring a hedgehog. Disappointment came straight away when we looked at the departures board; the plane was delayed indefinately, with an estimated departure of 1pm. At the information counter next to us, an irate French woman spat venom and complained loudly at the employees, and a pair of Chinese tourists behind us scratched their heads in confusion.

Cindy asked an EasyJet employee what was happening, but we couldn’t get a straight answer, nor would they give us a refund unless the flight was 5 hours late, minimum. But, we could change the destination without charge. To ANYWHERE! While we had lunch to pass the time, the plane was further delayed to 2pm. That’s it! A golden ticket to somewhere else – ANYWHERE else! We looked at each other with shining Cheshire Cat grins as we realised we essentially had open tickets to wherever we wanted!

Copenhagen was there! I couldn’t even find Copenhagen on a map, but I suddenly had to go there! But it was already boarding. The Madrid flight was full, and so too was the Venice flight. The London flight was now delayed to 3pm. 5 hours late was getting ridiculous, and the departure time kept getting pushed back, so we took the refund, and went home, disappointed. We looked back one final time, our sad, 10am flight still blinking red, delayed, delayed, delayed.

One week later…

We took Eurostar tickets, the high speed train that skates through the Chunnel in 2 hours or so. No problem. I arrived in London a few days earlier, eagerly awaiting Cindy’s in a few hours…