Thursday, November 18, 2010

London, baby!

We landed in London on Monday night a bit later than planned so we rushed to catch our easybus to the city center and made it with a few minutes to spare. We got into the city past 23:00 which meant by the time we'd walked to our hotel from the bus stop, checked into our hotel, and dropped off our bags in our room, it was really late and all bars had closed, which was unfortunate because we really wanted a drink! I, for one, really needed a drink because our hotel room looked like a murderer rapist's living quarters. Minimalist furniture, cracked paint on the walls, and an old fashioned sink in the corner = creepy!
free English breakfast
We only had one full day in London and I wanted to make the most of it so I mapped out our route early in the morning, got some free hotel breakfast, and we headed out. Our hotel was located within a block of King's Cross Saint Pancras Station so we decided to start our journey there. After snapping a few photos of the British Library (while standing at the entrance to the Underground), we headed to the spot that Harry Potter made infamous: Platform 9-3/4!

headed to Hogwarts!
Afterwards, we grabbed some day tube passes (£5.60 per person) and hopped on the tube towards Covent Garden. We walked around the market and did some browsing and then walked down towards Trafalgar Square. After snapping the photos we wanted, we hopped on the tube towards Parliament (we could have walked but it was really rainy and windy!) to visit Big Ben and Westminster Abbey.
Covent Garden Market (balls!)
Trafalgar Square
Westminster Abbey

Big Ben

London Eye from
Westminster Bridge























Drinks!
Buckingham Palace
Then we were back on the tube to see Buckingham Palace. We'd missed the changing of the guards (which happens at 11) but that was okay because it gets way crowded there for that (even when the weather is crappy). After hopping off the tube, we stopped by a bar before heading to the Palace.
Westminster Cathedral
The drinks we had made us wanna pee REALLY bad so we rushed to find some toilets. We ended up walking all the way to Victoria Station (which is a few blocks from the Palace) and payed 30p to use the toilets. It worked out for us though because we got to visit Westminster Cathedral (which I think doesn't get the attention it deserves because it's overshadowed by Westminster Abbey).

After photos, we got right back on the tube and headed towards one of my favorite spots, the Tower of London! I love it because it has such history and I love the story of Anne Boleyn. Of course we took some photos with the dressed up beefeater as well as at the famous Tower Bridge (which is often mistaken for London Bridge... London Bridge is dinky and unimpressive).
Tower Bridge

Tower of London


Beefeater & me :)

Beefeater & John











Wagamama!

There was a noodle shop (Wagamama) right by the Tower, so we stopped by for some lunch. I was happy to get a taste of some "Asian" food because I hadn't had any in a few days! We shared some wings, Baby Boy got yakisoba, and I got miso ramen. Everything was yummy. The spoon I had to use was stupid though. It was a huge wooden ladle type thing. I felt silly using it.

St. Paul's Cathedral 
And of course, after the touristy stuff, we were right back on the tube, headed to more sights. Our next stop was Saint Paul's Cathedral, Millenium Bridge, as well as a little peek at the Globe Theater. While on the bridge, CPBB's camera battery died!
Millenium Bridge (and a
tiny Globe Theater in the background)
Fish Bone
I had really wanted to go to the Orangery for tea (in the Kensington Palace Gardens). It was 16:00 by the time we'd finished at the Millenium Bridge so we ran to the tube station and tried to get to the park by 17:00 (which was when the Orangery closed). There were some tube delays on the Central Line (red line) however, so we ended up getting there at exactly 17:00 and the place had already closed! It was too bad because they serve good tea, but the park was really scary and pitch black dark so I was okay with just heading back to the hotel before supper time. We went to Fish Bone for dinner, one of my favorite fish & chips places in the UK. They serve really generous portions for reasonable prices and they're located right by Regent's Park so on nice days, you can take your food and eat it outside (they also have seating outside if you need a chair and table in order to eat your food). The batter is really light and airy and it's not too greasy. The chips aren't the best, but they're not gross. They have homemade tartar sauce (which is really yummy) and we got a side of pickled gherkin and onion which were yummy too. I love my fish & chips liberally doused with malt vinegar and lemon.

After dinner, we went to a bar called The Green Man, right across from the Great Portland Street Tube Station. There was plenty of seating and the prices were decent. We slammed a few drinks before heading back to the hotel to get a bit of sleep before having to catch our 3:30 easybus to the airport.

Turns out that the free included breakfast was the only good thing about our hotel. When we got back, Baby Boy went to go potty while I went to the room. Note that the bathrooms were shared so there was a separate toilet room and shower for our floor (which had about 4 other rooms). There was no sink in the toilet room so you had to walk all the way back down the hallway and use the sink in the bedroom to wash your hands. There must have been zillions of fecal matter germs crawling all over the walls of the hotel. Anyway, Baby Boy came charging into the room after his peepee time, and he was all freaked out because, as it turned out, there was poop on the toilet flush handle!! AHHH!!!! So even though we were creeped out, I decided I wanted to shower so I went to the shower room and Baby Boy followed me (for safety reasons) and we discovered a poop smear on the shower handles and a little pooplet on the floor of the shower! EWW!!!!! My theory is that someone was showering, all of a sudden pooped themselves, tried to pick up the poop with their hands and ran it down the hallway to the toilet, and dumped some in and flushed. Since there was no sink to wash their hands, they ended up leaving poop smears all over the place. Poor guy/girl! Don't you feel bad? I do not. That's just gross. Needless to say, I'm going to have to take a visit to tripadvisor and vocalize my opinion about this place.

Anyway, after the poop incident, we got a few hours of sleep before waking up to catch our bus to the airport. We took a taxi to the bus stop (as it was almost a mile away) and the guy charged us £9.50!! Can you believe it?! I had been forewarned about taking minicabs in London, but wow, I didn't know it would cost us almost ten quid for a 4 minute drive.

Next up: Amsterdam!

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