Friday, September 17, 2010

London wrap-up

This is a catch up post, seeing as I haven't really given any text alongside the images in my previous posts. If you're looking for the 'nice' photos check the previous blog entries at

Tuesday 7 September

Arrived in London ever so slightly short on sleep at 7:30am, decided to stick it out as long as possible. I stayed up by exploring Putney (where I am staying) a bit - lots of little side streets with rows of (attractive) house upon house. It all has the quaint factor, but still a bit too snug for my liking. Worth the trade off for decent public transport though, perhaps.

Crossed the Thames to a park near Putney bridge with an old church and some flower gardens, nothing spectacular but it was nice a cool walk along the Thames and the air seemed fresh. There was a little cafe alongside the church that the pidgeons seemed to like.

Another suburb opposite Putney was fairly similar, but a bit more upper class (the houses looked the same, but there were flasher cars). On one street almost every single house was being worked on, gutted etc - an up and coming suburb it seems.

Alongside the nice houses were a few giant buildings with quite classical and attractive architecture with their own private gardens, not sure what they were, but plonked right in the middle of it all, where I imagine at some point was a park/square, was a block of awful old council flats which was horribly out of place but typically English.

Then home for a nap.

Wednesday 8 September

Got my Osyter card/weekly pass sorted which makes getting around much easier, then headed in to the British Museum. I can't say I have any deep interest in most history - my main reason for visiting was the roof in the main atrium of the building.

Beside that it did have some interesting exhibits including lots of Egyptian, Iranian, Chinese, Japanese, India (who seemed to be obsessed with breasts) and a lot else that I can't remember.

My favourite part though was the lovely old ladies manning the 'touch' exhibits - little booths where you can walk up and touch a bunch of old stuff (not the ladies) such as, my favourite, 2500 year old Greek silver coins, old Japanese oblong coins with string holes, a bizarre Nigerian currency made of case iron, kind of a very long T shape with a lump at the botton, and strings of sea shells. Other booths I found had old pottery, functional brass things, personal religious knicknacks and a 150,000 year old cutting tool (which was a bit small for my hand).

The reading room itself was just a random collection of books, notes and specimens, with one in particular catching my eye - a Hoopoe.

Also, don't sit on anything, even if it looks safe to - alarms WILL go off. Apparently.

Outside the museum is the Kew Garden, who's current theme was 'Southern Africa'

Then headed out through Soho down towards Piccadilly Circus (I think, I was just meandering). Soho wasn't as nice as I expected - I was expected weird alternative-ness but just found pretension and wankery. Maybe it was just me, but I came out with a generally negative feeling on the whole place which was a tad disappointing as that was one place I was looking forward to seeing the most.

Anyway, Piccadilly Circus. As you would expect it to be.

Continued meandering, ended up on The Mall towards Admiralty Arch.

And then onto Trafalgar Square which was crowded, so I left. Headed back towards the British Museum via Camden and saw this on the way:

And then this (Umbrella and walking stick maker and a comic book store next door to each other)

After museum-ing it up some more I went home for more sleeps.

But not before I went to Spur in at the Southside Mall in Wandsworth Town Center (15 minute walk from Putney). Yum.

Thursday 9 September

After realising that London wasn't actually particularly very interesting on its own, I resolved to see the rest of the Museums, which was great really. First up: The Natural History Museum, which had Dinosaurs. Need I say more? It's like whoever wrote the books I read as a child just wandered around this museum and converted it into book form. Specific examples:

Anyway, the rest was less impressive, though I enjoyed seeing the Dodos and the very faded Thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger), but not so much the dismembered birds and cabinet of possibly hundreds of stuffed hummingbirds. The geological history part was... flashy with its escalator leading up 3 or 4 stories into a giant globe, but still dull - not much to be done about that I suppose.

The building itself though was absolutely beautiful, inside and out. I've posted heaps previously so won't bother with any more here.

Oh also, do you remember Ida'?

Also the Mammoths were cool.

Friday 10 September

More museums today.

Science Museum: horribly disappointing (and poorly laid out). Expecting too much perhaps, or maybe I'm just getting too old to enjoy this sort of thing.

Here is a photo of a photo of my eye:

Albert Memorial outside the Royal Albert Hall

Hyde park

Serpentine Gallery. Wanky.

Paddington. Boring. Couldnt find Paddington Bear (Sorry Anya). Will bring a map next time. had BK though, so that is a plus I guess?

Went home to drop my bag off (Out for dinner tonight)

Then to Victoria and Alfred (or Albert?) Gallery. This was a cool place with too much to describe, but highlights were the wrought iron, Beatrix Potter and photography exhibits, along with the awesome and massive copies of plaster cast columns, doorways etc etc.

Friday night was Brick Lane for a drink at a cool local bar which played really awesome jazzy...stuff, then a curry after being harassed by thousands of very enthusiastic Indian men trying to give us a deal. It was pretty good and we negotiated some free poppadoms. Also quite spicy, but mine was relatively mild. That will teach me to steal food from other people's plates.

Saturday 11 September - Sunday 12 September

Lyon! The previous photos pretty much tell you what it's like. Very pretty, very quaint, very old, very french. Delicious pastries, cheap bike hire, compact city. Very very pretty. Ate so much bread.

The city itself is flanked by a plateau on two sides, the eastern bit contains the basilica (Flash interior of the church posted previously) and the roman auditorium ruins. Getting up was up a beautiful street with views over the whole city - half way up the church bells started ringing and it was quite marvelous. On the northern side was a hill that led up to another suburb really, but the way up was through a interesting area with tons of graffiti and odd stores.

At the top was an amazing view (huge pity about the horrible mid day light. Did I also mention that it was hot and I was wearing jeans?) and a huge market and a random procession. No idea why.

Dinner on Saturday was a three course meal, a lovely salad, pork things with a delicious potato side and then an apple tart and chocolate brownie (shared). The apple tart was amazing, kind of like a sweet pizza base with dried apple slices on it with some sort of glazing. I would like to try make it myself next year!

Lyon also has a really lovely big park to the north - inside it is a free (non-creepy) Zoo! Nearby was a huge slab of ice which, in the heat, was amazing.

Anyway, all worth seeing, and so easy to see with tons of hotels right in the middle of it (Though, if you don't mind riding bikes you can get a hotel anywhere really).

Monday 13 September
Monday morning I arrived back in London. Technically Sunday night, but didnt actually get home and to bed till 2am. I slept in late and took the day off to try and recover (keeping in mind that I am still horribly jet-lagged)

Tuesday 14 September
Battersea <3. For obvious reasons to anyone who know anything about Music *cough*. After that was The Millenium Bridge which was pretty cool and St Paul's cathedral and Patternoster square for lunch. Back across the bridge I went to the Tate Modern gallery which contained generally large piles of excrement. We're all entitled opinions are we not? Next stop Tower bridge... or... well, I can see it from here.. I'll just go home and sleep some more.

Wednesday 152 September

Buckingham Palace. Full of people. I don't see the attraction - there are much better sights in London that boring old Buckingham Palace. I feel that it's only famous now because it's famous, or at least that is why people go there. It's the Paris Hilton of London attractions. Do you really think you're going to see the Queen? Really?

Anyway. Westminster Abby is a beautiful building, but like St Paul's expect me to pay to see the inside of it. For what reason I do not know, and for better or worse I will never know how they look inside. I'm not cheap, I'd just rather have the (at least) three meals that entry to each would have cost me.

Westminster Palace was lovely looking, and I enjoyed the security guards with MP5 semi automatic rifles. Not sure if that was normal levels of security or if it was Pope related.

Finally, back to Trafalgar square and the National Gallery. There was a weird robot in the square, no idea what it was there to do.

The gallery was good, not interested in the mostly dull portraits or the excessive amount of religious iconography, but there were some beautiful landscapes and I managed to find the lady in the red dress that I remembered seeing when I was there in 2000. I get the feeling art and history are not really my interests, as hard as I try to pretend that I am civilised.

Thursday 16 September
Sat on my arse all day, taking it easy, packing and writing this!

Where to from here? Finish packing tonight, then eggs and bacon on English Muffins (don't worry mum, also broccoli).

I have a 9:55am flight from Heathrow tomorrow morning to LAX. There I have about 9 hours to kill. I'm still undecided what to do, but if I can find a power point I will spend most of the day watching movies/tv shows on my laptop or reading my long book (which is amazing - Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand). If I am able to check my luggage in early I will take a half hour walk to in-n-out burger just near the airport for lunch, and then im guessing McDonalds or whatever else is cheap in Terminal 1 for dinner once I've checked in and waiting. Then it is on to Charlotte North Carolina where I have just enough time to change flights and then finally to San Jose. I don't know how many hours it will take and I don't want to. I will have two days at my Hostel in San Jose before I meet up with Raleigh, one of which will be spent sleeping and the other exploring a bit. A bit over seeing cities to be honest. Anyway, we head to Field Base at Turribala early on the 21st. After that I have no idea, but I will get in touch as soon as is possible - I'm sure I can sneak 2 minutes on the internet.

I will be online at the Hostel in San Jose on the late afternoon of their 18th, which I guess makes it morning-lunch in NZ (They are GMT -6 hours), putting them 6 hours ahead on the previous day, aka 18 hours behind)

Until then!