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Published: April 29th 2015
Tuesday 28 April
Last full day in London on Friday and Heather and Zachary headed off to go to the Princess Diana Memorial Playground. Heather was also keen to take Zachary to the Natural History Museum but Zachary surprisingly wasn’t keen – he is usually very keen to see dinosaurs. However he is tired and his cold hasn’t helped so that was all good. It didn’t start too well when he face-planted and split open his lip. He has also put a bit of a hole in one hand and it has become a bit infected. But he got over it and was there for ages.
Meanwhile I headed back to Trafalgar Square and then walked down Whitehall, hoping to be able to go for a stroll down Downing St. However, pedestrian access is limited and the gates were closed when I went past. I had no desire to wait an unspecified time so I settled for looking at all the other government buildings and then back down towards St James’s where I spotted the Supreme Court / Privy Council was located. They had a free exhibition about the court’s history and some background on landmark cases which I quite enjoyed reading about. Then another failed attempt at Downing St before going to the National Gallery at Trafalgar Square. I didn’t spend an enormous amount of time there but made sure I saw the Rembrandts, Vermeers, and the Turners especially.
Next stop was Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre to try and secure some tickets for that night’s showing of "The Merchant of Venice". There were no standing tickets left but I got a decent seat for £22. Then off to Lord’s Cricket Ground, planning to do the 2pm tour. Much to my surprise there was a match on – a local T20 match – which meant that tours were not running. However, I did get to watch the game so at least I can say I’ve seen a cricket match at the home of cricket. I also visited the museum which was not as good as it should have been. I then went to Abbey Road to see the famous zebra crossing. The best bit was watching tourists trying to get onto the crossing and have a photo taken while not getting run over!
I had a couple of hours to kill so decided to head to Hyde Park and have a walk around. This place is absolutely huge! I saw Speakers Corner, the Serpentine, the Isis statue (named after the Goddess), and the Diana Memorial Fountain.
Back to the Globe and just had time for a quick bite before the play which I enjoyed immensely. I was familiar with the story but had never seen it performed before. Back at 11:15 – and I never got to a pub!
I must be starting to blend in – 3 people asked me for directions today and remarkably I knew the answer all 3 times. And good news on the money front – my Euros have been refunded.
Wednesday 29 April
Cold, wet, and miserable weather – the real London has shown itself today! I had to make a quick trip into town to organise some train travel in Switzerland while Heather packed. Then we walked, in the rain, to the Underground Station. Belsize Park is one of a number of stations you access by lift. We have enjoyed the announcements as we get in and out of the lift as they are made by a recording of someone who either IS the Queen, or is doing a damn fine impersonation of her.
Made the connection to Victoria Station to catch the train to Gatwick. Victoria Station is very impressive but we had no time to linger. I had pre-bought tickets for the “Gatwick Express” only to find it wasn’t running today and we had to get a non-express train. Could have saved ourselves a few pounds and bought them on the day. Anyway we got there no problem and, as we had spent bugger all money in London and we knew we would be late getting to our accommodation we treated ourselves to a big meal at Garfunkel’s Restaurant at the airport. Changed my leftover pounds to Euros and off we went. Loved London and will be back for an extended stay at some point.
Short flight over to Rome
on a Boer War era Boeing 737. These really are the Toyota Corollas of the sky. The got the “Leonardo Express” into the Central Station (Roma Termini). It is an express because it doesn’t stop at any stations, not because of the speed it actually moves … Then managed to decipher the timetable at Termini to find the train we needed to Zagarolo, the station near our Hostel, and we were picked up from there. On neither train did anyone ask to see our tickets. I don’t know if people actually bother to pay.
The main thing we noticed about Rome coming into the city and then out to Zagarolo was the extraordinary proliferation of graffiti – South Auckland multiplied by 100. It is everywhere! Much of the housing is apartments and most of them didn’t look too flash. The hostel seems very nice. We have a huge room with a balcony and our own bathroom. It has a bar, restaurant, courtyard, and kitchen. A bit noisy as I write this at 9:30pm but hopefully it will quieten down a bit.
Sorry, no photos this time. We hope to go to the Vatican tomorrow and I’ll post some then. Friday is a holiday here (May Day) but main attractions will still be open.
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