Friday, May 14, 2010

LONDON! Here we come

Our flight took us from Sydney through Hong Kong, Munich and on to London. On arrival at Heathrow the sun was brilliant although it was very cold outside. The roadsides out of the airport were covered in bright golden daffodils - Spring! They were beautiful!

Good Friday dawned cold, wet, windy and miserable! Some might say 'typical London' however we did venture out to our church service and we were so glad we did. Staying with friends was great - and we were blessed on both counts.

Easter Saturday we got 'rugged up' and got the train into London town, arriving at Charing Cross station. Walked (it seemed forever) to get to the London Eye. Passed 10 Dowling Street on the way and had our photo taken next to the horse guardsman on duty - stoic as ever. The wind was cutting as we walked across the Westminster Bridge after passing Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. It felt exciting just being there. So many people - tourists - doing exactly as we were doing! Tour bus touts everywhere trying to persuade people to buy their tickets.

Queues for miles - for tickets to go on the 'Eye' - for getting on to the 'Eye' and for getting food in the precinct. Security was tight - random frisk searches of people before entering the 'pod' and on exiting after the ride was over, employees rushed in with brooms and mirrors on long poles and carried out thorough inspections of the pod before the next lot of people got in.

What a view! We got into 'our' pod after 11am and by then the rain had eased - the keen wind helped to make the view a little clearer. Now I don't like heights - planes are OK but high buildings? No sir! I was so surprised then to find that on the London Eye for me at least, there was absolutely no sensation of movement or indeed height. Even though, through the clear floor, one could see down to the ground to the people looking like tiny ants, I still didn't get that awful feeling of being up high. I knew I was, but didn't get the sensation of it. Was great! Fabulous landmarks like Buckingham Palace, Houses of Parliament, all the memorable bridges across the River Thames, Whitehall Court, St Pauls Cathedral were all seen clearly from above. Even as far as Hyde Park and Wembley Stadium and some quite new and modern looking buildings such as the Tower 42 and the 'egg' shaped Swiss RE Headquarters were easily identifiable.

After lunching at the Golden Arches which was located almost right under the Eye, we walked again to the tube station and planning to have a wander around Covent Garden Markets, hopped on the underground tube train to take us there. On exiting the tube station at Covent Gardens, we noticed a tiny shop 'booth' selling half price theatre tickets. Now DH has always wanted to see the stage show of 'Les Miserable' and after enquiring whether there were seats available at the matinee show that day, we rushed around to the Queens theatre and purchased two of the last 5 available. We were in! It was kind of exciting to think we were going to a show in London's West End. While wandering around the streets there waiting until we could get into the theatre, I was thinking about the image one gets about some of these old places. I had always imagined the West End to be something very special (and to many I'm sure it is) however my impression was that of it being rather dowdy and untidy. I guess at night with the many lights twinkling it would become a different atmosphere altogether but for me, on that afternoon, I just didn't get the feeling of 'special-ness' I had always imagined it to be.

The show by comparison was wonderful and although the story was rather depressing in it's own way, we did enjoy it.

After it was over, we were able to wend our way back through the tubes to Charing Cross station again and eventually back to where were were staying. And even if we were chilled through, it was still a thoroughly enjoyable day. We were looking forward to the next day - Easter Sunday - going back again.