Day 1 – London Calling

Well I finally landed in London. What a long long long trip that was. Last time I did this it was in segments separated by a few weeks. It took me 31 hours to get from Melbourne to here and thats not counting the traveling to and from airports and sitting around waiting for planes.

The flight with Air Asia X was great though and I would definitely fly with them again. The plane on the KL to London leg was more comfortable and more roomy than the trip plane from Melbourne. I sat next to a very chatty lady who had broke her toe and kept wanting to show me how swollen her foot was. I felt bad as I had nothing to show her in return.

I only made the flight to London by the skin of my nose. I missed the train back to the airport by a fraction of a second and had to wait another 30 min for the next one. While waiting I decided to check my itinerary to see what time the flight was supposed to leave. I was shocked to see it was leaving half an hour before I thought it was going to. I was sure it had said 3:30pm and not 3pm. It was a very stressful ride back to the airport with lots of swearing and bargaining with anyone I thought might be listening. When I finally got off the train to get on the shuttle bus (still 20min from the terminal) I thought there was no way I was going to make it even if the flight was leaving at 3:30pm as I first thought. After getting stopped at every red light and being confused as to why the driver was happy to take corners on two wheels but when it came to a straight line he had a case of the go slows the bus finally arrived at the terminal where I pushed past an old manly lady ran to the baggage store, grabbed my bag, and proceeded to run to the international check in desk. All this while my heavy jeans started to fall down. I had to stop and hitch as I’m sure there was some crack and the last thing I wanted was to end up in a Malaysian prison for indecent exposure. Anyway I made it to the check in desk just as they were announcing the final call and turning the light off. I then rushed through security, customs, and finally the gate. Relief is not a word I could use to express how I was feeling.

Anyway I made it into London safe and sound and made it to my hostel at around 1:15am. I pretty much walked through customs. At Stansted they have lines for UK/EU passport holders and a line for everyone else. Needless to say this was pretty good for me as most of the new arrivals were from the former. It wasn’t all roses though as my bag was about the last to come out….

I took a Terravision bus to Victoria station and walked about 10 min to the hostel. Its actually in a pretty good spot and within walking distance to places like Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and the London Eye.

Which brings me to what I did today. I walked. A lot. But it was awesome. I wandered around to Buckingham Palace just to take some photos and conveniently found myself in place for the start of the changing of the guard. What started as a pretty ordinary affair soon turned into a spectacle that included marching bands, horses, and even the Navy. Then when you think its over and everyone starts to walk away they come back! I think the Queen must like to mix it up a little as they were playing all sorts of modern songs and even most of the score to the Phantom of the Opera.

After I was finally able to get away from that I made my way down from the palace to Trafalgar Square. I can’t believe I never ventured in this part of town last time I was here. This area of the city is filled with cool buildings and great spaces. I ventured in the National Gallery for a look, and to notch up a points on my culturalness. It was nice. I felt cultured. I also felt very sorry for Jesus.

Next I made my way down to 10 Downing St. I’d always thought it strange that the residence of the British Prime Minister was so easily accessible. What they don’t show you on TV is the big hulking gates and masses of guards out front of it. No ones getting in there.

Next stop was a walk past Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and the Houses of Parliament. All as I remember them and just as impressive as ever. I didn’t worry about venturing in. I had other places to go. I made my way along the river and took in the sites of the London Eye and then once I’d crossed the Thames, the view of the Parliament, Big Ben, and Westminster in the background.

I’ve made great use of the free wifi around the place and haven’t had to pay for using the internet yet. I sat down at the nearest McDonald’s and booked my day trip to Windsor Castle, Bath, & Stonehenge for tomorrow and then headed back over Westminster Bridge for more of a wander.

I ended up at the Tate Gallery. This gallery demonstrates that artists from the 15th-18th centuries actually had something other than biblical inspiration to paint from. Although my favourite pieces here were ironically of biblical inspiration. John Martin’s triptych was simply frickin awesome!

It did help me to realise that I am among those that don’t class contemporary/modern art as art. Anything I can do just as easily ain’t art as they say. I walked into one of the rooms where one of the canvas’ was entirely blue. A big blue square on the wall and that’s art? That’s decoration I’m afraid. I did walk past some vertical panels that would look good in the garden though.

Anyway by the time I was done with all that I was ready for home and a hard night of trying to find a flight into Europe. I have the day trip tomorrow and will no doubt be continuing my snap happy addiction.

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