After touching down at 7am after a killer 30 hour journey, we could finally say we made it to the other side of the world, London. For me, I’ve never ventured further than south-east Asia so 24 hours on a plane for a boy with little patience was an accomplishment. Never the less, stepping onto foreign soil after a long flight felt like victory, and a stiff neck.
We arrived at Danis apartment(our friend from NZ) in Hammersmith, West London. The fact we were staying directly over the Thames River made it that much sweeter. If I had it my way, I would be doing bombs off the deck into the river, but unfortunately I suck at bombs and the water looks so polluted I wouldn’t make it out alive. All in all, an incredible place to shack up for the next 3 days as we start our European summer.
Our plan was to stay awake for the whole day to kick the jet lag in the ass. Let me tell you, this is much easier said than done. The body was tired and lethargic but the brain was wide awake like the end of a 3 day bender. Nothing a bit of coffee and some food can’t fix. Lucky for us, Danielle took the day off work to be our tour guide. If it wasn’t for her, we would still be reading the map in the tube station 3 days later.
Subway life – Were not talking Jared and his foot long sub here, this is the real deal. Underground trains running to every part of the city. Unlike NZ, driving on the road is expensive in London, so only the rich and famous can afford it, meaning the rest of the population, take to the underground. You literally feel like a salmon squished into a polystyrene box which moves at serious speed. Being new to London and the subway, it was damn cool to experience. Soon enough you realise everyones expression on the subway is the same, straight-faced, no character. Did you know that one ride on the underground is like smoking two cigarettes? So apparently three days into London and I’m a pack a day smoker… sorry mum.
Buckingham Palace – Our first stop off the subway from Hammersmith was Green Park. (I suggest you use the ‘City Mapper’ app to get around). We popped up above ground into a warm sunny day in London and walked through Green Park towards Lizzies house. People everywhere enjoying the sun and summer days. As we approached the Palace, we could see the Union Jack flying high up on the flag pole which, if you didn’t know, meant the queen was most likely sitting in her favourite chair sipping on tea looking at all the peasants outside worshipping her…including us. The amount of people surrounding the Palace was almost uncomfortable. We fit right in with our flash camera and shitty poses. The most amazing thing I could see was the amount of gold they used to decorate statues and the surrounding gates. Lets just say the Royal Family aren’t afraid to hide their wealth. With the amazing buildings surrounding the Palace, also owned by the Royal Family, it was easy to see where the Queen spent her loose pennies. We managed to dodge some few thousand like-minded people and capture some snaps of the old ladies house and then head off down ‘The Mall’ road towards Trafalgar Square.
Trafalgar Square – As we approached Trafalgar Square by foot, the famous red, roofless, hop on–hop off buses started to show face. Every man and his camera filled the seats so we decided to flag that idea and keep going by foot. Trafalgar Square is what you could imagine, a squarish, kind of octagon area filled made up of steps and some crazy big old buildings. If you haven’t cottoned on yet, London is basically old architecture, lots of people and some dam good public transport.
Big Ben clock and the Eye of London – Walk south from Trafalgar square. On your way you’ll pass Downing street (parliament) and probably hear all the whispers and shit talk about the brexit move. Hang a left at the next big intersection. By now its about lunch time and just to double-check, I look up at the famous Big Ben clock to check the time. Seen from a number of spots around the city this amazing piece of architecture is part of the Elizabeth tower built in 1844, jeeeez, I should be the tour guide… then head east on the bridge and you will see the London Eye. This is a big ass ferris wheel down on the water, another tourist attraction which is worth checking out. While on the bridge walking east we saw this weird donkey puppet thing. He scared the shit out of Leah which was funny, but took no notice of my donkey noises as I walked past.. what an ass.
Lunch at The Slug – being on a budget means finding a cheap option for food. Not reverting to the rubbish bin just yet, we found this cool place called The Slug. Mains are half price on Monday, so if you find yourself stuck with Monday blues looking for a cheap and decent feed, check it out. Theres a few scattered around london.
Dinner in China Town – Another two ciggies down and we found ourselves in china town for dinner with Dani and her partner Logan. Comparing these steamed buns to the hawker rolls from Madam woo, Logan was set on going to Pho and Bun for dinner. I’m gonna admit now this was not a let down. I’ll happily take advice on asian cuisine from him any day. Get the Pork steamed bun and some asian greens, noodles with duck or if your game, the pho and bun challenge. A steam bun packed with different meats which stands over 200mm tall.
Camden Markets – The next day we hit the Camden Markets, North London. If you’ve ever been to Thailand this is basically an english version. Cheap shit everywhere you look, dodgy stall owners trying to sell you everything and anything and dam good stall food. Walk down the main street through Camden, check out every little side alley with stalls and you’ll get the full experience.
Oxford Street – If you don’t know what the english flag looks like, take a trip down through Oxford. The union jack is at every corner reminding you that the Queen rules the streets. By this point I felt as though I was playing a game of Monopoly, we could just follow the board around passing go, collecting $200. Hundreds of people flock the streets to shop and spend all their money in the flashy shops. For us, 60 mins of mayhem was enough. ‘Get in get out, quit fucking about’ and that was that.
Being a kiwi in London it’s not hard to find a familiar face to catch up and have a beer with. It’s a huge city in scale but with the help of public transport you can easily meet people not so far away. By the end of our few days in london we didn’t cover nearly as much as whats on offer in this crazy city but we got a fair idea.. there’s only so much touristy shit to handle in a few days, minimal money spent and we were happy. Lucky for us we had our mates from NZ to show us around. This is the first stop on our European summer, the adventure has only just begun. Thanks London, well see your fine ass soon.
Bryn | free & addicted
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