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Published: November 2nd 2007
Question: If all you had was six hours in London, where would you go and what would you do?
The bus from Cardiff deposited us in London a little after 6 pm. Rawle, a friend of Dawn and Tyrone and a Guyanese national working and studying in England, had agreed to put us up for the night. From the Coach Station we followed Rawle's direction and rode the Green Line from the Victoria Underground to Turham Green. Rawle met us at the station, took us to his place and prepared a fast and tasty bachelor's chowmein
. We had never met Rawle before but he made us feel at home and we chatted way into the night.
The next day, we checked out of 'Chez Rawle' around 10:30, paid for and stored our backpacks at London Victoria and set out to see the city. The clock was ticking. Five hours remaining. The search for quintessential London was on! We went to Camden Town. Known for its unique style (or lack thereof), the town supposedly housed the city's 'freaks'. But as it turned out we may have been way too early as the streets were devoid of the usual mohawk-wearing, black
leather-sporting, spikes-accessorizing, tatooed up members of British society. The streets and markets did make for interesting browsing though and we splurged a little time on Camden.
On the way back we visited the auspicious Buckingham Palace with its grand fountain, statues, usual crush of tourists and stone-faced guards. A walk thru squirrel-filled gardens with 'Princess Diana' emblems on the pathway and then an inspection of guards on horses was pleasant but it was not London.
Three hours to go. We tried Brixton. Brixton had a 'Caribbean feel'. Reggae blasted from outdoors speakers, the market had Caribbean produce, the accents were Jamaican, Guyanese, Antiguan and then some and the people were more boisterous, aggressive and happy. Brixton was more Caribbean than British and so we moved on.
Ninety minutes to go! We were walking now. Over a few roadways, thru an alley, cross another road and to the muddy-brown Thames. And sitting on its bank was a giant ferris wheel which seemed to dominate the skyline. The London Eye cost a hefty 45 pounds a person but there was still a long, twisting line for tickets.We eyed the glass bubble nervously as the big wheel started propelling us
skyward. It looked sturdy. The London skyline appeared more and more impressive with each passing minute and soon we were way above everything. Parliament and Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, London Financial Centre, Natwest building and the egg-shaped "Gherkin" buildings were all clearly visible. For miles in every direction, we could survey London. We had found it!!! Now, this was London and this was the way to see London in one shot!
We came, we saw, we left. Subway! Backpacks! Subway! Airport Shuttle! Gatwick was busy. Our flight, the one that would take us out of Europe, was checking in...
Remember Lasse? Our hardcore, backpacking German 'amigo' from the Dominican Republic (see 'Motorbike Heaven')? Well, we caught up with him. He spent quite some time after we left the DR exploring and then he went to Puerto Rico. There, someone stole his backpack and hammock (basically everything he had). Lasse made himself a bed with 'jungle' materials and stayed for another week or so then he caught a flight back home to Germany. Lasse's jungle bed experience has made him realize just how little he could actually survive
on and he is now earning money to restart his journeys. We wish him well!!
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