Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Last Days in London - For One

Surprisingly the noise we can hear in this apartment did not keep us awake. We set off towards Madam Tussauds and made it just before they opened and so we were right up the front of the queue. We had been in Hollywood the previous year and had been impressed and thought we should go again as this one has been on the site in London for over 100 years and is the original Madam Tussauds.

It did not disappoint and was much bigger that the one in LA. It has  a couple of additional  features including a  4 D movie, a ride in a miniature taxi car through the History of London and a "experience" resembling the horrors of the Tower of London  called "Scream". That I did.....I was absolutely terrified as we made our way through winding dark tunnels with scary loud noises and live costumed actors coming to life from the darkness. The sole purpose was to scare the living daylights out of you and have you thinking a change of clothing might be necessary any time soon. My heart rate was through the roof and even though I knew it wasn't for real it didn't make it any less scary.

We wandered up Oxford Street up to Marble Arch and the top end of Hyde Park as Sunday is "Speakers Corner” day. There were a fair few there speaking their minds with the crowds heckling at every opportunity.....it was quite a sight. Not far from there we saw one of the new statues called Jelly Baby Family, however it was on the other side of a busy street and we returned later in the day to take a photograph- cute now but I am not sure what it will be like in 20 years from now and doesn't really rate with some of the infamous ones you see in the likes of Trafalgar Square.

We decided we should take the opportunity to see a show in London and thought that a matinee would be best. Big crowds were at the half-price ticket stands and tickets were selling fast. We ended up at a show at the Lyric Theatre seeing "Thriller" a Michael Jackson tribute. Our seats (the cheapest available and still expensive in our terms) were in the balcony...a very long way up as well as being incredibly steep but we had a good view and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. There were a huge variety of shows on but unfortunately not many on a Sunday but we were satisfied and well entertained. We were told anything on at the West End had to be good to stay there and this show has been going for 2 years- the theatre was packed.

We then wandered through Trafalgar Square and Covent Gardens that were teaming with people. Street performers were in full swing and there were crowds of people being entertained on every corner. The restaurants, cafes and bars are full of people everywhere- drinking and eating- the choices are never ending. 

We attempted to have a pub meal tonight as it was Brent’s last night but we could not find one that did not involve a long wait for both a table and food. We opted for small dish of paella at Convent Gardens   where a performing orchestral band played in a huge courtyard, a lamb Chawarma in Charring Cross Road and shared a huge ice cream sundae in Leicester Square.
Brent's flight leaves at 10 pm so we had a full day to see some of the last sights in this wonderful, lively bustling city. There is just so much to do. We took a tube down to parliament buildings and  renewed our acquaintance with Ben. We walked in the grounds of Westminster Abbey where there were queues of people willing to pay the 16 Pounds to see the interior (extra for guided tours). Having seen a good portion of it along with the millions of others when Will and Cath walked up the aisle we gave it a miss with no disrespect to this stately towering building intended.

 We opted for a visit to the British Natural History Museum which is in a massive old building in the Museum district. There are more museums than you can shake a stick at, the most unusual one we saw (the sign for it anyway) was the Canal Museum not far from Linda and James place. On reaching the BNH Museum there was loads of people there and a sign on the queue barriers indicating from that point there would be a 30 min wait. Brent had heard a staff member on a walkie talkie and had overheard that it was a 15 min wait. We have learnt that you can blame literally everything on "Bank Holiday Weekend" (it’s true, from the traffic to the queues to the poor service to the underground stoppages to just about everything!) and had put this down to all the visitors in town.  We decided it must be worth waiting for (mistake number 1) and joined the end of the line. It’s a bit like you don't know what’s round the next corner and one and a half hours later we entered the museum (mistake number 2) with what seemed 10,000 young children half of them in pushchairs. Most were incredibly fractious (parents and children) and in the middle of melt downs (parents and children) all at the end of their tethers (parents and children) having just waited for an hour and a half. We put this all down to both Bank Holiday Weekend and the Dinosaurs exhibition that was on. Mistake number 3 was entering the dinosaur’s exhibition. Half way through that we looked at each other and decided that our interest might lie in the Science museum just up the road and we left natural history for the man mad variety and headed off and out of there. Interestingly the Science Museum had no queues although plenty of people were there. Brent was in his element here and I left him to his own devices while I did some interesting people watching from one of the 5 cafes within the museum. The diet of those who I thought were British (you could tell mostly from what they were eating) is generally not healthy by any stretch of the imagination and I am surprised more are not overweight. I suspect though that medical issues will involve conditions bought about by overuse of alcohol and cigarettes. How judgmental of me!

From here we moved on through Hyde Park again as the parks and gardens smack in the middle of London really are a beautiful part of the city. We found ourselves back beside the beautiful princess Diana memorial fountain and both of us were once again compelled to paddle in its waters like many others.
Its Ok he didn't fall!

 We took a black London Taxi back to Harrods for a last browse through this London iconic store. Prices are outrageous here but it did not seem to deter the many people shopping. We headed back to meet Linda and James at St Pancras Station and Hotel to have a farewell drink. The station is in a recently refurbished building that took several years to get into the pristine and luxurious state it is in now. It is where the Eurostar leaves from (the first leg of my tour) and we sat outside overlooking the platforms while I sipped on a Victorian cocktail called Cosmopolitan Daisy and for Brent a local beer from Camden. Exquisite!
It was a lovely way to end our stay together in London and Brent is sad to leave but is looking forward to a proper washing machine and a decent shower.Not to mention some fresh fruit and vegetables as these seem to play a very small part in the diet of the English.

I am looking forward to having a couple of rest days and catching up with some washing....repacking the bag etc. We have been on the go for 3 weeks and I am well aware that the tour is going to be full on as well. I confirmed my reservation yesterday and was told I need to be at the departure hotel by 6.45am...rather early. I decided to go out to Heathrow with Brent to say goodbye.  I am fortunate that Hilary is going to pick me up from there. A least I do not have to worry about being in the right place at the right time.

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