The journey begins: Londontown!

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November 10th 2010
Published: November 15th 2010
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Pleasant greetings to you all from deep in the heart of London - what a gigantic city! Having come from Whistler, a town of about 10,000 - London feels like I'm on one of Earth's moons it's so large.

My journey here was long but surprisingly I'm still awake aside from the couple times I did one of those head-whip things while sitting on the Tube. The flight to Houston was packed but luckily I had an aisle seat and slept most of the way. I had about 40 minutes connection before the London flight started to board but it gave me enough time to wash my face and breathe some non-recycled air before boarding the Boeing 777. Can I say that my flight to London was the BEST flight I've ever had in all my travels!? First of all, the flight was pretty empty which allowed me to take over the other two seats beside me and immediately use the extra 2 pillows and 2 blankets to pad the armrest that I was leaning against at the window seat. I feel bad for anyone that paid for a first class ticket because the only difference between my seats and their one seat is theirs was made of leather, they had a duvet blanket (but with my 4 blankets it was just as thick as their one), and probably had some nuts and alcohol, which both gives you extra gas so I'm not jealous about that.

I stretched out like a princess the whole flight and watched Sex and the City 2 (not very good btw), Grown-Ups (pretty funny), and almost all of Toy Story 3 (super cute). You can tell the intellectual level of movie lowered (slightly) as the flight continued. haha! The last comment I have about the flight is how tasty my vegetarian meal was! Yes, I just said that airplane food was good. First time ever. Usually they try to be fancy and mix something horrible - always a soggy red pepper, some kind of grain, and raisins. Sometimes they replace the pepper with eggplant. bleh! This time around I got Indian food that was really good - some sort of dal, spiced rice, and a masala. Accompanied by a flattened bread roll and a vegan chocolate chip cookie. I love how they advertise a "Five-Course meal"...with their appetizer being a bag of pretzels! =)

So arrived in Heathrow with a bit of a delay but got my bag right away from baggage claim. Then I oogled at the Underground poster for a few minutes looking at my routes and transfers, bought my ticket, and squeezed onto a pretty busy train. I didn't realise how out of town Heathrow was but finally made it to Westminster station with no problem. I walked outside and looked up - first thing I see is Big Ben! Hello there Big Ben! I waved and kept walking because all I wanted was to put my bag down, shower, and brush my teeth. There's time to see the clock later (pun intended).

I circled a couple streets and got a bit lost but found my friend Deb's flat. Felt like a completely different person after a shower and brushed teeth. After that, I immediately went out to explore London. I really had no clue where I was going. Even with Rick Steve's book and a map, I got incredibly lost and circled Piccadilly Circus several times trying to orient myself in the direction I wanted to be in. It didn't help that there was a huge riot with 50,000 students parading the streets regarding the government's decision to cut higher education funding by 40% (not math or sciences though) and increase tuition by 3x. It was cool to see so many young people be so organised and passionate about something with huge banners, puppets, costumes and megaphones.

I decided to walk most of the day knowing that I'd be tired but could maybe visualize the city better versus if I took the underground tube. Saw all sorts of buildings, crossed all sorts of bridges over the Thames - saw the London Tower which looks spectacular!

Around Piccadilly, I saw a Twinnings tea shop and had to see what that was all about. Pretty swanky. They had 2 limited edition teas so I thought I'd buy them for 15 pence and when I went to the counter the guy said I could just have them! Hopefully I didn't look poor. haha.

I also went into the Tate Modern Art Museum and got to see some gorgeous paintings and sculptors by several artists including: Matisse, Picasso, Monet, Salvador Dali, and Kandinsky. I putted around the other side of the Thames there for a bit and saw two markets that seemed to have shut down for the day but I'll try to return there and check it out. I always prefer the local spots like markets over cathedrals and buildings even though those are pretty and historically important of course.

Now I'm back home sitting in my friend's beautiful flat he's letting me stay in that is literally a 3 minute walk from Westminster Abbey. Since I can't remember the last time I slept, I'm calling it a night and lounging. London can wait for me tomorrow. Deb might finish work around 9 and then I'm supposed to meet him at a canary wharf or something so we'll see.

Until tomorrow, "mind the gap!"


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