...to visit the Queen
03.03.2012 - 09.03.2012 3 °C
I have never really felt the effects of “hitting a wall.” Today I did. It wasn’t just any kind of 3:30itis. I kind of felt like what I imagine marathon runners feel as they stagger across the finishing line. I wanted to go on (there’s so much to see!!) but my feet just wouldn’t let me. I have clocked up some serious kilometers in the last three days and blisters are forming on top of blisters. If it wasn’t so bloody cold I would have curled up under a tree in Kensington Gardens for a power nap.
It was 4 degrees today… then add the wind chill factor. Brrr! It makes me shiver just thinking about it.
Needless to say, my thermal underwear, scarf and beanie have not been removed since I got here. It’s hard to believe that just last week I was wearing swimwear at the beach.
Anyway, the second leg of the Etihad flight was much better. A fresh faced crew and a delightfully upbeat ‘good morning!’ as we boarded made all the difference. I sat next to Warrick, a chap from NZ who also wasn’t very chatty. That suited me – I am not much of a morning person as most of you know.
When we got to London the captain’s GPS seemed be malfunctioning
– as we were stuck in a holding pattern for an extra half hour. This is definitely something that you don’t want to hear after already being on a plane for the last 22 hours... although what’s another 30mins eh? I guess it gave me extra time to again, try and put my boots on. I hadn’t removed my socks for the entire time so hadn’t really checked out the cankle situation, all I knew was that it was bad.
A two hour wait at the UK border didn’t really seem that long to begin with but as I slowly crept up the line it was a mixed experience of a zombie-like ‘need sleep’ and a kid-in-a-candy-shop “ OMFG I am in LONDON!”
A little bit of anxiety poked its head up when I couldn’t find my travel pack (courtesy of the long wait in customs) but I found it, organized an oyster card and navigated my way on the tube to Hotel Earls Court easily enough.
As expected the hotel was small and dodgy – but it had a clean bed and shower and that is all I ask. It was on a main road so it was very noisy when I first arrived but as the night progressed it became quieter – until a police or ambulance rocketed past with their sirens on. If their patients aren’t deaf when they pick them up they certainly will be afterwards.
Nevertheless it was also close to the Tube and at the end of the street there was a TESCO (Coles/woolies equivalent). This was handy for a sandwich dinner... or was that breakfast? It also really didn’t matter about the noise because as soon as my head hit the pillow I was out like a light.
I didn’t really feel the effects of jetlag for too long as I slept from about 9pm London time all the way through til morning, got up and my body had magically reset itself.
But SO UNLIKE the cold, wet and rain experienced at Bondi… and NOT AT ALL like the cold, rain and WIND experienced the following day. BRRR! I do thank Leonie wholeheartedly for lending me her warm, wind proof, rainproof jacket. It has been a lifesaver.
National Gallery – snooze worthy. Ok so shoot me. I just don't see the appeal of looking at old paintings of Jesus.
I also stumbled across M&M world. Wow. I didn’t even know this existed. 4 LEVELS full of M&Ms merchandise. They even had ‘mix technicians’ where you can watch staff dressed in lab coats through a glass window putting different coloured M&Ms into souvenir bottles. Haha how Willy Wonka.
They also had a wall of every coloured M&M (chocolate and peanut) where you could mix and match your own take home packs at a hefty price.
At one point I also found the Picadilly markets which I made a beeline to because it was inside... and inside = warmth. There were some professional buskers all with string instruments and one with a flute. They were absolutely brilliant and filled the entire hall with a fantastic atmosphere. I found myself gravitating back to them several times to listen some more.
I’ve also been window shopping in Oxford and Regent streets. It’s kind of depressing actually because I am not buying anything, at least not until I have a place to live in longer than a week. I also went to check out Harrods. It was amazing to see all the designer clothes, fancy chocolates and sparkling crystal homewares, but I found it quite boring because a) when would I ever wear designer clothes and b)I am on a backpacker budget.
A highlight so far as been the Science Museum – I’m a nerd I know – but they had a great space and human body exhibit. I found out that I had a female brain (lucky!), that I am going to look pretty good as I age, and that I am ok at remembering facial features if I ever have to give a description to a police sketch artist.
They had this awesome earth exhibit that looked like a hologram. It was a big rotating ball that they projected images on from the telescopes and moon missions. They even had the weather patterns for the last 2 months and the flight paths of all the planes! It was really cool.
They also had a moon rock - and after watching Apollo 18 before I left home, I looked very closely to see if it was indeed a rock, and not a rock that grew legs and ate you from the inside. The sign said it was kept in a nitrogen filled chamber so it never comes into contact with the Earth's atmosphere (and so it won't eat you).
The other day I travelled by Tube to see Big Ben, which chimed as I was walking beneath it. Then I walked across West Minster Bridge to the London Eye. I didn't have a ride because it and was overcast and cloudy so I didn't think it was worth paying money to see just as much as I could at ground level. Maybe I'll go back on a sunny day.
It was a great show, but it was hard to adjust to a Simba with an English accent, and a female Rafiki shaman instead of a monkey. Pumba and Timon were hilarious as always. They also added some more songs in comparison to the movie, which fitted in with the story, but they just didn't fit with the running word-for-word script I had playing in my head. lol
Also, its amazing who you can run into halfway across the world.....
I caught up with Caitlin (my old Mackay housemate) yesterday and we went to check out Portobello Markets in Notting Hill and got photos in front of the Blue Door. My post- visit research reveals that it was not the real one that was in the Notting Hill movie... but its a blue door nonetheless! ha ha. We then followed bad google map directions to a pub where I had my first real English meal -Banagers and Mash with a glass of Pimms.
Today Friday 9 March - I have stayed in the hostel all day apart from going out for about half an hour to buy some food and a restock of tissues. I spent most of the morning horizontal with a head cold and it feels like my brain leaks every time I get up. haha hmm I guess it had to hit me sooner or later. Hears hoping my immune system fights quickly. :-)