My Grand Tour left London early on sunday morning (I had to be there at 5:45am!) which meant I had to stay at least one night in London, so I decided to make it two and have a day in the city before I left.
This was my first time to travel to the city by myself, and it was a little intimidating, though it helped having been there just a week earlier with Jeremy and Ed. I caught the train down in the morning after a nervous start (do I take the sleeping bag? do I not? does it weigh too much? am I taking too much?) I finally said goodbye to Fran in her little shop, gave her the keys to the flat and trundled to the train station. While my suitcase had wheels, it looked fit to bursting, and by the end of my 10min walk I was dearly hoping the Contiki Bus would drop us at the door of our hotels.
(On reflection I think my journey was a little Harry Potterish?, setting off unsure on an adventure to new and exciting places) Once I arrived and had dropped my stuff at the hostel I was staying at, I decided to visit Kings Cross, to see if I could see the famous platform 9 and 3/4. But... like most things in Europe, it was covered in scaffolding. Still, you could catch a glimpse of where it might be...
It was a fabulous day in London and I mostly hung out around Trafalgar Square until it was dark, visiting the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery nearby.
I found dinner in a nice Italian place, where I had possibly the best hot chocolate ever (ironic now I think about, after the actual Italian hot chocolate I had in Rome was thick and syrupy and strange), and then went to a west-end show, the satire 'Yes Prime Minister.'
It was very dry and I'm not sure I got all the British political jokes but it was enjoyable. I was able to get half-price seats because I booked it the same day.
Squeezed onto the tube home, I realised that even though London is huge, once it is broken down in the people next to you, it becomes human sized. The girl changing music on her iPod, the man sharing a cryptic crossword clue with a friend, the gentleman who "didn't miss the tube at all."
The next day I got up early (thanks to the man in the bunk above me playing a fuge on his nose through the night. Such tallent...) and visited New Zealand House to vote before I left for the continent. Afterwards I had the bewildering choice of what to see first! I ended up at St. Pauls and walked through the tent city that formed part of the Occupy movement. There were lots of media there too, giving their sage commentary on the matter.
I then made my way over the Thames on the Millenium Bridge towards the Tate Modern, wondering at London's past, buried in the murky water below.
The Tate was spectacular, with a current exhibition featuring a huge projection of film negatives, that had been treated in a very colourful way. Inside the cavernous Turbine Hall, the images drew your attention like the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
My sister came down at about lunch time and we walked through the christmas markets on the South Bank, until we caught a tube to the Victoria and Albert Museum where we met Ed! There was an exhibition on China, which contained the coolest looking tea pots. They looked like something out of Studio Ghibli, where they might start to slither and walk at any moment.
This one with three legs was actually super old too! over 1500 years!
After dinner in Soho, where we had yum Hipster Vegan Vegetables, Fran caught the train home and Ed and I walked around in a vague sightseeing search for a Pub, and then I went to bed, ready for my big adventure the following morning...