Published: February 17th 2012February 16th 2012
Up a little earlier this morning and we headed straight to the tube to get on the city cruise that would take us from Big Ben down towards Greenwich. One of the best things about London is their tube system in that you don't have to worry about missing trains or planning well in advance as they run almost every minute or two on the main lines, so you just get there when you are ready and you will get one straight away.
We were on the cruise and we got to see all the main landmarks from a different perspective instead of seeing them from the road on the bus. The trip was made even more enjoyable from the tour guide who was brilliant, he knew everything about anything and some of the stories that he told were very good, it's not as common to tip over here compared to America but everybody was giving him something as they left.
As the trip went on, some of his stories involved other nations and he would call out to see if there was anyone from that country on the boat. One story was talking about convicts being sent to Botany Bay and we happened to be the only two Australians on the boat, he simply said to us "Welcome Home". The trip lasted about an hour and one of the interesting things I saw along the way was a pub that is still standing and functioning since it was built in 1520, amazing.
We arrived at Greenwich which is the home of Greenwich Mean Time and there is a place in one of their buildings where you can stand and you are standing in two different hemispheres as the equator line runs straight through. We hadn't planned to see that so once we found out, we didn't have enough time to go there.
Greenwich is like a nice country town, people are friendly and they had this market that runs daily that had a wide range of food and plenty of antiques for sale in the stalls. After lunch we took the tube back instead of the cruise to save some time.
Our first stop was Oxford Street which is probably the main shopping district, like New York they had all of the main expensive shops and they were mixed with all the common stores like our Myers and David Jones. We picked up a few things along the way and then we were off again to Notting Hill.
I've never been ashamed to admit I like that movie and so I was happy to go and have a look. Lauren had been there years ago with the girls and wanted to go again so she showed me around. Basically, I thought Notting Hill was a little bit like Brunswick in Melbourne, quite trendy but also still with a bit of crap. There are some nice areas and some run down ones. They have a few housing strips where every house is painted a different colour, Lauren loved this and said she would love to live there however when I asked her what colour she would pick her answer was white! Their main shopping street is the same, some pawn shops and then some boutiques, all mixed in together. Lauren did remember a cupcake store that they went to last time and it was still there so we got a few for the trip back.
Back on the tube and off to Harrods for you guessed it, more shopping. Like Macy's in New York, I don't think we would have seen more than 1/4 and we were there for about 45 minutes. It was huge and wherever you looked, there were new rooms with more stuff. We managed to pick up a few things from the gift shop and then Lauren went to the tea room and had some tea. As I mentioned with the tipping, it's similar to Australia however the service here is a lot worse. Probably the Harrods tea room was the worst service we had so far, they just didn't care. The funny thing was when we got the bill, at the bottom they had already factored in a compolsory 12.5% service fee. There was a feedback form there which I was going to give them some free advice, but I bit my tongue and we were back on the road.
Back to the hotel and had an hour or two to kill before heading out to dinner in the main part of town with our friends Rick and Mahla. Rick works close by and usually doesn't finish until after 7pm so we met them there. They had picked this really popular restaurant/bar that was absolutely packed. I picture it to be something like Fog that the girls go to back home, however guys like me generally aren't allowed into places like that because I'm not cool enough so I don't actually know what it looks like! Anyway, the food and the atmosphere were great and we really enjoyed catching up with those guys who we haven't seen for 12 months. We were also chuffed with their wedding present as it definitely wasn't expected and a nice surprise!
It was another busy day and tomorrow will be the same with Wimbledon, Lord's, Madam Tussaud's and the Lion King. They are all spaced out so plenty of trains again and lots to see and do.