Arriving in London and Day 2 of exploring

Arriving in London and Day 2 of exploring

My flight to London was in the early afternoon. We got there in plenty of time, about 2 hours and 15 min before the flight. Everywhere else you can just check in and be done with it, but not in Bulgaria. The check in people were on their positions, but we were left waiting until the 2 hour mark and while they were scratching their heads and doing nothing.

At the check in counter I was asked for the first time how far along I am and if I have a doctor’s note for my pregnancy. Thankfully I had one quickly drawn by her before I left, so I dug it out of its dusty unused before place. I wonder if they will ask for it from now on. At least they didnt make a point of my slightly overweight luggage. I think I am a bit paranoid on this issue now.

I grabbed some coffee and browsed the Internet for awhile. When I got to the gate, the plane was waiting for us.

The flight is short, about 3 hours, but after we were all sat in position the captain announced that we have been delayed until “half past the next hour”, which in plain English meant, a whole hour!

Arriving in London, we were told that security requested we hold our passports on the way out of the plane. Its starting, I thought, the whole security madness that turns all of us, innocent passengers into instant suspects and being treated like potential criminals. I hate that.

Then at passport control I wondered with which passport to enter the country. I decided to use the Aussie one, since we are buddies and all. Again, for those of you that have watched any of the Border Security shows and seen how they question suspect people, that is what I had to go through – Where are you staying? Is it a hotel? What will you be seeing? What exactly? Why are you here on tourism? Where do you live?… I miss the smiling and welcoming people from my previous arrivals.

Grabbed a 3 day tube ticket from the outlet (I got an off peek one, which can be used after 9:30am and is half price – 20 pounds) and popped on the line that will take me to the hotel. It got jam packed in no time. There had been some delays with it in the last hours and now people were coming out of everywhere trying to get on. The trip was quite long, I think it took way over an hour. When my stop was approaching I wondered if I will be able to get off. The place was person to person and I had to drag not only my bulky body, but backpack, huge luggage and poster tube through that to get out. I started approaching the exit 2 stops before. At my stop, a knight in shining armor grabbed my luggage and dragged it for me out the door. Oh, the relief! I thanked him profusely before he was swiped back into the bursting at the seems train.

Found my hotel and after checking in, I had to drag my luggage up to the second floor as there was no elevator. Settled in and went out to have a quick look around the neighborhood and to hunt for some dinner.

As far as food was concerned, there was choices, but the prices seemed out of this world. I was starting to already get concerned with them, as even the cheap places had higher than comforting numbers attached to them.

I saw a nice looking burger joint and decided to try it out.

The food was nice and tasty, still, 10.50 pounds (more than US$20 and AU$21) is high any way you look at it. It was not a restaurant, just a fast food place.

The next day started early. I had to make a plan, get acquainted with my map and get stuffed on my free, included in the room, breakfast.

I set off. First a quick walk through the West End, the theater area.  Leicester Square, which are buzzing places even in the morning.

London is beautiful. The lined up houses with fresh flower pots, perfectly taken care of; the colors, the history and nobility of the city can be felt without an effort.

The details of everything are preserved and taken care of – street lamps, engravings, iron gates.

Cars are clean and definitely not an issue around the city. They have some strict rules of driving and parking in the center and the effects can be felt pleasantly. After Sofia, this felt so refreshing and made exploring the place on foot a pleasure.

These arrow guides were across the city, but in my opinion they are good only to give you a confirmation you are on the right track. I dont think they are very good to be used as main directions.

Then I reached Trafalgar Square.

A beautiful enormous place with lots of people enjoying it. The top picture shows of Nelson’s Column and the bottom is the other side of the square, or the National Gallery, which was opening in awhile, but not while I was there.

From here you can see the gates to the road that takes you to the Buckingham Palace. I headed that way. Oups, I havent uploaded that picture…

After the gates, the road that takes you to the palace is long and wide and goes through St James Park. It is called The Mall.

The are around the palace itself is full of people. There is an Elizabeth II memorial statue in front, if I am not mistaken, and piles of people are sitting on its stairs. People are peering through the golden gates, not sure for what.

The Queen must have been in residence as the flag is raised. I cannot confirm, I didnt get to see her ;)
The building itself is impressive and huge.

Then I went through the fancy royal shop.

Next was some more walking to the Tate Gallery.

Sorry, I havent put that picture up either. The Tate was interesting and most importantly free. I didnt encounter any entry fee less than $20, so free admission has been greatly appreciated and worth mentioning.

Then I made my way to the Palace of Westminster, aka Houses of Parliament. An incredible building even from a far.  I approached it from from the south and through a park, which was occupied by numerous people having their lunch on the grass or sitting on benches looking over the Thames.

And of course The Clock Tower, which houses Big Ben, which is the largest of five bells and strikes every hour.

Near by is Westminster Abbey, where all coronations of kings and queens have happened for centuries.

Exiting the Abbey you can see the London Eye in the distance.

Then I grabbed the tube to the London Tower. This are was packed with people! I dont know if everyone just gets out later or its just a very popular place, but you can barely walk.

Through the Tower you can see the controversial Bullet building. I actually liked it.

Also known as, Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress. It is situated on the North bank of the Thames and is huge, as you can see.

A short walk up the bank for the river is the Tower Bridge.

I went through it and started walking down the South Bank.

Made my way to Borough Market, a mouth watering place with all kinds of goodies and smells.
I would say its an upmarket kind of place, from the selection that they had on display.

I grabbed a punnet with various baklava pieces and then a venison burger which I went off to enjoy on the grass of the Southwark Cathedral, as many seem to do.

Then more pleasant walk through the bank.

Until I reached the Tate Modern and watched part of an installation by some students. They left their installation to balance on the railing of the Thames.

By this time I was getting quite tired. I had been out for 8 hours and more. Dragged myself to the Waterloo Station and grabbed the tube to the hotel.

A very enjoyable day in which I managed to squeeze in a bunch of stuff, but my favorite part of all this is not so much looking at the attractions, as much as walking through the city and this is a lovely city to browse through.

The place is really expensive, the day was windy and a bit chilly for a summer one, but the rest compensates for it.

Now I need to catch a plane to New York. I hope my laptop will survive me sorting through the next day in London before I start my exploration of the Big Apple.

Chat to you soon.