20.05.2015 - 20.05.2015 10 °C
We arrived at Heathrow at about 6.30 am. Bill found the trip to be only 10% as bad as he had expected. He did not find it a bad experience at all.
It was a partly overcast day – so London looked very nice. After getting through UK Border procedures and Customs we had to find a train. I knew there were 3 trains – Heathrow Express (expensive), Heathrow Connect (reasonable) and the Tube (cheap). I wanted Heathrow Connect, so went to the Railway Counter and was served by a bored employee who told me that I had to somewhere else to buy a Heathrow Connect ticket. Meanwhile Andrew brought a Tube ticket – so we decided to go via the Tube. This stops all stations. There were not many on at the start but as it got towards London it was packed! We sat with our suitcases and bags taking up valuable space. Bill had his case in front of a seat between him and Andrew. An Islamic lady came and stood before Bill’s case staring at this obstruction. Thankfully Bill caught on and moved his case and she squeezed in between Bill and Andrew. The lesson is that it is best not to take the Tube from Heathrow in peak hour. We then had to change trains and lug our baggage up stairs etc. to get to a higher platform. All the trains were jammed packed and we wondered how we would get on with our luggage. But we managed. Bill was quite stressed about the whole procedure. However when we got out about 200 meters from our accommodation, he was agreeably surprised. At one stage he was proposing we walk about 2 kilometres rather than squeeze unto another tube with the likelihood that it would be the wrong one and leave us stranded even more. So we had a great taste of London life on the Tube!
The B & B is basic but has all we need. We left our baggage in the B & B and proceeded to see the sights of London. We walked through Hyde Park (only about 50 meters away). It is beautifully green and all the deciduous trees are in full leaf. There is a natural look to it all with the grass giving an uncut appearance. We walked through Hyde Park to Wellington’s Arch and then into Green Park. It was also very green and lush. This brought us out to Buckingham Palace. The Queen must be in residence as her flag was flying. We walked through St James Park and then through Horse Guard. The usual crowd stood around the two guards many getting taking photos of friends standing beside the horses. I must say that the horses are very placid. The streets were very crowded with tourists, school groups etc. London has a great vibe! We walked past Downing Street and on to Westminster Abby and Parliament House. We sat in St Margaret’s (the church beside Westminster Abby) - very calming and restful. We then went to Trafalgar Square. On the way we stopped at The Clarence (a Pub with an aged appearance) for an early lunch. We were sat by the window to the street. This was quite strategic for the Pub owners, as it draws other people in for a meal. One group came by and stood and looked at us sitting beside the window and de3cided to come in – we should have got a spotters fee. Bill had a chicken burger and Andrew and I had beef and ale pie with potato mash and vegies. It was a delicious meal – added to that there was the view out on the road – crowds of people and the red buses and taxis etc. One man walked past and looked in then then gave us the finger!! I don’t know why!!! It was almost quite funny.
Trafalgar Square looked great. The sun was shining and there crowds of people. It has a great sense of occasion! I could sit there for hours. There were a lot of groups of students from different countries. One group I know was from France, as they walked past a boy bumped into me and apologised so nicely in French. I find that French children speak French so beautifully. I felt for the teachers as they herded the children around. It must be so stressful.
We went into the National Art Gallery. We walked through the area with paintings from the 15th and 16th century. It is quite amazing. I saw so many which I remembered from Sandra’s art books. I did not realise the London Gallery would hold so many of these old works – many of them by continental painters. I saw one famous self portrait of a man and his wife and I said to Bill as we walked in “that painting is very famous” – the guard on duty smiled at me and said “priceless”. It is true there is no monetary value you can put on these old works of art. Sandra would, or should I say will, enjoy the gallery so much.
We then got a coffee at “Pret – a – Manger” and sat outside beside Trafalgar Square watching all the activity. We then got the Tube back to the B & B. Bill feels claustrophobic in the Tube Trains when they are in the tunnels. This is because the tunnels are only a little bigger than the trains. At the station near our B & B (Queensway) there was only open lift operating – so you could either wait or take the steps – 123 steps winding up from the underground to the street. Quite a climb!
We moved into our room. Definitely not 5 Star – but adequate and not too bad size-wise. We are not walking on top on one another. I found out that the B & B (called 72QT) is a Latvian Guest House – a lot of the signs are in Latvian. This makes it quite interesting. I felt very tired and had a sleep. Andrew and Bill went out to go bike riding. They picked up bikes in Hyde Park and went riding for about 2 hours. They went to the Thames at Battersea Park. They really enjoyed the experience and it only cost them GPB 2! They found the traffic very chaotic. The bike riders are very aggressive and weave in and out of traffic and are very vocal towards the traffic. Some were riding in suits! Here is an angle Sandra can push to motivate David to go on an overseas trip – he would enjoy the bike riding in London.
I when I woke up, I went for a bit of a wander around the streets. I passed the Uruguayan Embassy – isn’t that where Julian Assange is staying?
Andrew and Bill got back at about 6.30 pm. They were both very tired. I went to the ding room to write up my first blog. When I came back at 8.30 pm both Andrew and Bill were asleep. I went out for a walk. It was still day light. I walked up to a very interesting eating are just up the street. It was very crowded and had all sorts of restaurants. I wandered around and eventually bought some sandwiches from “Pret – a Manger”. I came back and ate the sandwiches in the dining room and the turned in for the night.