Friday (high productivity day):
Early EasyJet flight from Malpensa to Gatwick, Southern Rail train to Victoria, lock the luggage at Victoria station (for 6.50 GBP each), buy Oyster cards. Walk to Buckingham Palace, watch a parade with beautiful horses and guards with ridiculous hats. On to Westminster Cathedral, which was quite nice, we even watched a bit of the (catholic) mass. London is full of beautiful old buildings next to glass skyscrapers, which makes for an interesting contrast. On to Westminster Abbey, refused to pay the 9 GBP to enter a church. On to the Houses of Parliament (without the Guy Fawkes masks, though). The wooden fence of a construction site across from Parliament is allegedly painted with «anti-climb paint», whatever that may be. Rest our legs a little in the Victoria Tower Gardens, which was actually just a small park. Across of Big Ben some hunger strikers in tents who are protesting the UK’s involvement in Iraq. Pass in front of Downing Street, waited a bit in case Gordon Brown came in or out, then went to a pub to try fish and chips (nothing special) and ale (nothing special either). Next to us sat 6 Italians, from Tuscany: a young couple and their parents… Buy a couple of «mind the gap» t-shirts for me and on to Trafalgar Square, photos under the Nelson Column, enter the National Gallery, really nice exhibition. All the (state) museums in London have free entrance, 7 days a week, which I think is just splendid. I want take this opportunity to thank the British taxpayers for this! Meet my friend Anastasia, walk to Waterloo station, have a vanilla latte and chat. The London Eye was closed for restoration works. Meet her friend Maria No 1, take the bus to Victoria, pick up our luggage, take another bus to the pub «10 Bells», which was packed, so we had a beer at another pub and took the tube home (had to change twice due to «engineering work»). Note for next time: pee before leaving the pub! Take Chinese and Turkish take-away from her neighborhood (Newham) and eat at home.
Saturday (relaxation day):
Wake up late, shower, have breaky, take off with Anastasia for Notting Hill. Walk the Portobello Road, lunch (paella), buy a funny present for Marta from an Octopus store, then by bus to Piccadilly to meet Maria No 2. Walk to China Town, then Covent Garden, watch some live lyric singers (like Piazza Navona), enter some toy shops, buy a row of lamps for my inside stairway, then dinner (mexican). Walk to an underground bar near Leicester Square which was quite full, so instead we went to another pub, which was celebrating Australia day (one week in advance). Bus home.
Sunday (average productivity day):
Chiara went to the mass, I woke up later, shower, tube (alone) to South Kensington, Science Museum (free entrance). Quite nice, interesting exhibits about Watt’s steam engines. Lunch at the museum’s canteen. On to Hyde Park, the «Speakers’ Corner» (I was ecstatic!), tube to British Museum (free entrance). See the Egyptian exhibits, the Rosetta Stone, then the Greek Marbles (tried to steal our marbles and bring them back, to no avail), then they kicked us out while going for the Chinese jades. Coffee at Starbucks, meet Anastasia & Maria No 1 at Leicester, dinner at Union Hamburger (overpriced, no fries), then tried Pimm’s in a bar at Piccadilly. Tube home, icecream and strawberry cheesecake.
Monday (high productivity & stingy day):
Wake up early, take Anastasia to work, leave our bags there, try English Breakfast. Yummy! Tube to Tower Bridge, then refused to pay 16 GBP to see the Tower of London. On to St. Paul’s Cathedral, where we refused to pay 10 GBP to enter. Smoothie at «Apostrophe», which is a Greek word! Cross the Millenium Bridge to Tate Modern, watch a couple of ridiculous exhibitions, leave. Shakespeare’s Globe, refuse to pay 9 GBP, so we have a long lunch at a Pizza Express nearby (London is full of Pizza Express and Bella Italia). Tube to Green Park, walk to Harrods, which is a big expensive shopping mall with many Rolls Royces waiting outside. Tube back to Canary Wharf, meet Anastasia with our bags, tube to Victoria (realize that the English will read a paper in the tube, no matter how packed, and if they can’t, they will read the next guy’s paper!), Gatwick Express because we’re late and we’re worried we’re not gonna make the 40′ check-in deadline. Make it on time, then discover that the flight has a 1:30 hour delay. Sit and write this blog post.
All in all it was a very nice trip. We didn’t get to see everything on the list (left for the next time: Greenwich, Tate Britain, Madame Tissaud’s, more of National Galleries and British Museum), but it was my first real sightseeing visit to London, I got to see my friend Anastasia and laugh a lot, and it was a quite relaxing weekend. Till next time.
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