After landing in London from Jordan all I wanted to do was sleep. Thankfully the hotel I had booked before leaving Canada was close to the airport and it didn't take us long to get there. They let us check in early and we very gratefully made our way to the room and stayed in this little refuge for the rest of the day. Of course it was snowing there too, so going out again was not an appealing idea to two weary travellers. We saved our exploration of London for the next day.
Flights from Canada to Egypt or back from Jordan to Canada go through either the UK or Europe. There is nothing completely direct. Since I had to stop, I decided to spend some time there as well. I didn't have any sort of plan as to where I would go or what I would do once I landed but Europe is pretty easy to get around. I thought about going up to Scotland and Ireland, so I booked my flights through London. My mom decided to come to Egypt and Jordan with me at the last minute, so she wasn't able to take enough time from work to continue with me through this part of my trip. She did spend three days in London with me though and as she had never been there it was quite exciting!
For me even though the UK isn't home I have been to London a couple of times and it felt good to be someplace familiar again! I struggled with the temperature change, but shouldn't complain as it would have been more of a shock to go back to the -20 that it was in Saskatchewan at the time. I didn't have a map of London or even a tube map at first, but I took a guess at what stop we needed to get to the national gallery and we ended up near the British Museum. Well, that worked for us! There are lots of little area maps along the sidewalks so we found our way easily enough. I only went to the British Museum the first time I was in London....almost ten years ago. I remember thinking that the Egyptian exhibit was really awesome and fascinating, but this time I felt a little differently about it. This time it felt very fragmented to me, as if everything was just a random bit of here and there and nothing came together to tell a complete story. I suppose in a sense that's what museums are. They preserve fragments and pieces of things that come from all areas of the world. I didn't like it. I felt like the items on the walls and the statues in the hall should have been left where they belonged. In Egypt. I'm not sure why I've had this shift in thinking towards museums, but emotion is not always logical. Preservation and study are important and that is the main function of any museum. I should not be so critical.
The museum was crowded and neither my mom nor I like crowds so we didn't linger too long over any one exhibit. We gave a brief look over most things and then carried on back into the city. This time I picked the right station for Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery. Every time I go to London I come here. 'Mars and Venus' by Botticelli is at the gallery and a visit to London isn't complete until I've gone to see it. For some reason it captivates me. Mom wanted to see the Monet pieces so eventually we found them...for some reason I felt so turned around in there this time. The crowds in this part of the gallery were insane and we had to squeeze our way through people to get close enough to see anything. Standing back to get a more distant perspective was out of the question as there were just too many people in the way. That was disappointing because she was so excited to see it. There is not much opportunity to see famous artwork in a rural town so this was a big deal for her.
When we tired of paintings and crowds we left the gallery to find some sort of demonstration going on in the square. I didn't get the whole idea of the protest because half of it was french. I gathered it had something to do with gay marriage in France and England. Isn't gay marriage already legal in these countries? I guess I assume that since it is in Canada that all European countries would be just as liberal about it. I still don't know the situation there, but I was going to check it out. I did hear that there was a protest going on in Paris at the same time, but couldn't make out much else of what was being said.
After this we took a walk...a very long and cold walk! We thought we might do some shopping, but really didn't end up looking at much. I guess we just weren't in the mood. We walked from Trafalgar square to Picadilly Circus, then down Regent street to Oxford Circus and down Oxford street to Hyde Park where we decided we were tired of the cold and the wet snow so we hopped on the tube back to our hotel for supper and a relaxing evening in a warm room. As a side note, if you stay near the airport it takes about an hour to get from there to centre of town. That was fine for us as we wanted to be close to the airport and didn't want to navigate through the city with all of our luggage. It was easier that way. Well for my mom anyway as she flew out of Heathrow again and I had to go clear across to London City airport...but that's later.
Our second day in London we walked to the Tower and Tower Bridge. We didn't tour inside the tower, but we walked around it and felt satisfied with that. We then headed to Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. There were a lot of tourists in this area! After the complete lack of tourists in Egypt and Jordan it was pretty irritating to jostle our way through the hordes of them in London. And the weather was so crappy too, so why were so many people out?
The lines were too long at Westminster Abbey for us to bother with going inside, so instead we grabbed lunch at the only place we could see to sit down to eat, the Red Lion. It was a tiny restaurant, but the food was very good and we sat right next to another mother and daughter travelling together who were from the states. The girl was only 15 and the mom was trying to get her interested in cultural things so she encouraged me to tell her some stories of my travels. It was fun talking to them and made lunch a happy affair.
I wasn't sure where to take mom next. There is a lot to see in London, but it was cold and we were really just exhausted from our 18 day tour. We walked to Buckingham palace and watched the guards march around, then walked through Hyde park before calling it a day and heading back to the hotel again. We spent the evening repacking and sorting our bags as the next day we parted ways. Mom would go home, and I booked a flight to Amsterdam. I sent a few things with her to lighten my pack (since I had to buy an sweater or two!) and the next day we were off and running again.
I literally have 0 pictures of this part of the trip as her camera was stolen, mine broke and we didn't have anyone else to take them for us anymore. Thankfully as human beings we are endowed with memory!
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