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[personal profile] firebreathnchkn
So, as you may have heard, Camilla-Anna and I went to London. It was an amazing amount of fun. I am going to report day by day, since that is how I remember it.

Friday:

We got to the airport. Getting through security was a lot easier then either of us dared hope. So then we sat for three hours since we had scheduled a lot of spare time, just in case. But it was better than being late.

Then we got on the plane, and sat. The plane taxis about half-way there. Okay, it taxied a lot. It was cloudy and at night the whole way over, so we really didn’t see anything until we arrived, on…

Saturday:

We arrive at the London-Heathrow. Oh my. It is a very large airport and we were about 95% of the way to being zombies. We actually managed to walk almost as far as if we had just walked straight to London from Boston, but we did find the bus. (Travel hint: get a map of the airport you are going to beforehand and find out where you will need to go.)

The bus ride was extremely surreal. Everything was swapped left-to-right. I swear my brain was so tired that it almost decided that something was wrong with my eyes and reversed the image for me, based on where the cars were. I told Camilla-Anna that if I suddenly lose the ability to read that is why.

We arrive at the Bed and Breakfast at about ten local time. Almost no sleep. Punchy.

We have to wait until two to get our rooms. Oh. Ugh.

So we wander. We were about three blocks south of Buckingham Palace so there was a lot to see actually and I even remember some of it.

We had lunch and went to something called the Royal Mews. It had nothing to do with cats, instead it was filled with horse equipment, horse drawn carriages that were gold-plated, and even a few horses.

Finally we get in to the B&B and took a nap. Then we had awesome Indian food and SLEPT.

Well, okay, we discovered that voltage converters die. The fancy-ass Brookstone one I got didn’t last three hours. What you want is to make sure everything you bring can handle 120V and 240V, which almost everything does these days, and then get the $10 widget that changes the shape of the plug and nothing else. The owners of the B&B loaned us one, and we get another at a local electronics store.

Sunday:

Sunday morning was much better. We got up and discovered the English Breakfast, which meant scrambled eggs, toast, a mutant form of bacon, tea, a grilled tomato (which I still don’t quite understand), and some random other thing from mushrooms to baked beans. It was okay, but got old after a week.

Then we got a two-day pass on a topless double-decker bus for touring London. I took a lot of pictures of buildings as they went by. Some amazing architecture. We also started to notice a lot of scaffolding. More on this later.

So we were driven around and got to see a lot of the city this way. London’s city hall is very ugly.

Monday:

Monday we went to the tower of London. Wow. All things medieval. Siege engines, castles, moats, and lot of arm and armor. I highly recommend this if you have any interest in history or things shiny. There was a lot of shiny in London.

The cafe was pretty good, something we found at every museum cafe. They also all serve beer.

Tuesday:

Tuesday we saw Stonehenge and Salisbury Cathedral. To get there we signed up with a tour guide who took care of getting train tickets and a bus to get us there. Very nice.

First we did Salisbury Cathedral. Beautiful. Huge. Amazing. Really worth the time to get there.

We saw one of the Magna Cartas there. Amazing calligraphy. The woman who was the tour guide for the room it is kept in was so impressed we knew about calligraphy she let us hog it for a while.

Then we went to Stonehenge. Stonehenge is cool, but is only really fun for about an hour. You can’t go into the ring, or frolic naked while throwing flowers at people. This is partially because the wind would freeze you and blow the flowers away; then the sheep would mock you.

The tour guide was a one-man folk process, so be warned.

Wednesday:

Wednesday we saw Westminster Abbey followed by the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Westminster Abbey is also a very impressive cathedral. There is an amazing amount of history, and people, buried there. In one room were a collection of helmets with various heraldic going-ons on top. I thought one helmet had a bear playing the bagpipes, sadly it turns out I was correct.

The Victoria and Albert Museum is a very impressive art museum. We mostly stayed in areas we enjoy which meant some Asian, but mostly medieval European art.

Thursday:

The British Museum is huge. It took almost two days to hit the areas we wanted to see.

Sadly, the first day was cut short by someone stealing Camilla-Anna’s wallet out of her purse. In the mummy display. It is a free museum and there are both crowds and lots of distracting things. So be careful.

On the way back two middle-aged woman got in a slap fight on the stairs coming out of the underground. That was different.

Friday:

Day two of the British Museum went much better, starting with Camilla-Anna getting her wallet back, minus the cash, but with everything else. That improved everyone’s mood.

With more care, we took in some amazing Egyptian art, including a lot of cat-themed art. Yay! There was also a ton of artifacts from other times and places in history and the Sutton Hoo display. This is a collection of sixth and seventh century artifacts.

Many, many of these artifacts were very shiny. I guess gold and colored glass keep well.

We had lunch at the posh cafe here. When you order, they add or take away your silverware based on what you will need. The food was also good.

For dinner we ate at an even posher Italian place. You didn’t get a server, instead there was a flock of them with some sort of hive-mind that would swoop in and bring or take away stuff.

Saturday:

Our last day was spent at the Museum of Science. This had lot of steam-era technology that was really cool, and in some cases still working. They’d fire up this huge engine that used to power a whole factory of looms. It was fun to see all the little kids with their mouths open watching it go.

I also saw one of the original Atwood’s machines. This made me very happy.

Their wi-fi was the fastest I have ever seen.

Sunday:

Our last day went very smoothly. We got up, took the bus to the airport, got there in plenty of time, and got on our plane. Sadly, there was a lot of headwind, so the flight took a while.

Overall:

What did I learn? What did I enjoy?

Well, British people, at least in London, are very polite but still pretty warm and friendly. They will actually move if you say, “Excuse me.” The trains, buses, and the underground are crowded but nice, clean, and very fast. Get what they call an Oyster Card so you can just zip through the paying process.

The food was all around excellent, except for one lame sandwich shop which was full of fail. All the museum cafes were actually very good. The pub food was good, at least the fish and chips were. Oh, and Guinness beer is a very different beast over there. Try it.

We had pub food, cafe food, a lot of Indian food and Italian food, and one great Thai place. All good. Not cheap though. Around $30 or so in US dollars per person.

Let the professionals drive. Take the underground (“Mind the gap.”) or a bus, or a taxi. Really. If the left-hand driving doesn’t get you, the rotaries will, or some other lunatic. Don’t cross except at cross walks when they tell you to. It is pretty easy to do this, but don’t try to zip across. Even the natives won’t.

Wi-fi is the same over there. Bring your smart phones or tablets. You can stay in touch and look at maps and stuff to know where to go.

It seems like half of London is covered in scaffolding, from modern buildings to fountains and statues, to even parts of the Tower of London. They are cleaning all the coal pollution off the buildings, and making sure everything is ready for the Olympics next year. We got a little punchy about how much scaffolding there was and took a lot of pictures of just scaffolding. Really.

All in all, it was one of the greatest, most fun weeks I have ever had. Pictures will appear soon.

Date: 2011-10-19 02:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aishabintjamil.livejournal.com
You know, move this a tiny bit out along the silly axis, and you could do very amusing travel blogs. I'm envisioning a visitor's guide to local attractions in a sort of Terry Pratchettesque style... No need to limit yourself to far away places.

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