Adventures of a Wanderess – Day 22

Distance travelled: 5 miles
Salmon sandwich trip tally: 16

Day Twenty-Two was my last full day in London and the last non-travel day of my trip so I decided last night that I would cram as much wandering into it as my energy level would allow. I was ready to face the outside world just before 10am so I headed to Paddington to catch the Circle Line to Westminster in order to catch the River Bus down to Greenwich; I visited the Royal Observatory there on my last trip, but the weather was so wet and windy that I didn’t spend much time exploring and since I travelled on the Underground, I spent quite a bit of time on the three lines to get there and back. So, I thought a trip down the Thames in the sunshine would be a nice change in mode of travel. Once I’d alighted at Greenwich Pier, I spent some time wandering through the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College/University of Greenwich, glimpsing the Royal Observatory atop its hill and knowing I wouldn’t be trekking up there again this trip.




Anticipating grabbing a quick bite at Costa, I was pleasantly surprised to come across a Bill’s just down the street so I decided that that would be where I enjoyed the last lunch of my trip (and I did). After a yummy meal, I checked in for tomorrow’s flight (*sniffle*) and then meandered through Greenwich Market to the Cutty Sark before heading back to Greenwich Pier to catch the next westbound boat. 





I had intended to to disembark at Westminster Pier and take the Tube to Sloane Square so I could visit Saint Columba’s Church on Pont Street and then walk through Hyde Park and back to Paddington, but time and waning energy meant adding Saint Columba’s to next trip’s list of things to visit. So after hopping off the boat at Westminster, I caught the Jubilee Line to Green Park, made my way to and through Hyde Park (where the bluebells were out), and grabbed a final Costa panini at Paddington Station before heading back to the flat to do some packing. 


There will be one final post for tomorrow since my journey isn’t quite over yet, but as always, my time here has flown by and I’m not ready to say farewell. But it’s been another wonderful trip.

More Busy Wanderings: Another Big British Adventure – Day 18

Day Eighteen was my last full day in London (sniffle) and since it was forecasted to rain for part of the day, I thought I would spend it visiting the British Museum as I hadn’t done so before. The sun was shining when I headed out the door around 9:30, catching the Bakerloo Line from Paddington to Oxford Circus and then the Central Line to Tottenham Court Road, getting to Bloomsbury a little after 10 am. Even though the museum had just opened for the day, being a holiday weekend, it was already crowded, but I slowly moved along with the herd, dropping £5 in the donation thing, entering the Great Court, buying a map (worth the £2 price), and slowly progressing into the Ancient Egypt section, where people were swarming around the Rosetta Stone. After a wait, made longer by people who either don’t know how to queue or don’t give a crap, I managed to grab a glimpse and a photo of it and moved on through to the sections on Ancient Greece and Rome and the Mausoleum at Halikarnassos.      

   The museum is almost overwhelming in the quantity and breadth of its artifacts and with the crowds, I knew I wouldn’t make it through everything or be able to take in everything I did see, so I decided to head for the upper floor and focus on the European rooms, ranging from Medieval Europe (AD 1050-1500) all the way to present. That section alone is big enough to make a person’s head spin, but I managed about an hour of wandering through the various exhibits before the crowds started to try my patience.     It was only 11:30-ish, but since I’d skipped breakfast (unless two Jaffa Cakes count as breakfast), I was a bit peckish, so I headed back downstairs to the café for a cup of tea and a bite to eat. Afterward, I browsed through the substantial gift shop, but didn’t find anything I can’t live without; there was something I was tempted to buy, but if the remorse of not doing so gets to be too much, the whole museum shop is conveniently available online.   My weather app indicated that the rain had moved through and I decided a walk along the Thames would be a nice way to spend this last afternoon in London, so I walked through Russell Square to the Tube station of the same name and caught the Circle Line to Blackfriars.   After taking a moment to check in for tomorrow’s flight, I headed out into the wind and sunshine, intending to walk along the Embankment to Westminster and then turning onto Birdcage Walk to catch the Tube at the St. James’s Park station. However, not three minutes later, the sunshine was gone and was replaced by very cold almost horizontal rain and even with my umbrella and two hoods, I was soaked by the time I ducked into Temple Station, the next one down the Embankment on the Circle Line. I got off at Westminster to dash into the Tesco next to the station, hoping the rain would have let up enough to walk a bit more, but no such luck.     I got back to Paddington and headed to the Pret a Manger in the station to grab something for dinner and by the time I’d done that, the sun was shining again. But, since my Toms, jeans, jacket, and scarf were all damp (my Toms were down right squishy), I decided to call it a day and head back to the flat, having spent the rest of the afternoon doing laundry and relaxing before I stress this evening over packing everything up. Like last time, I’m not ready to leave the UK, not at all, and I think I’ll leave another piece of my heart here. But this adventure isn’t quite over yet and I fly to New York tomorrow for a couple of days of Broadway awesomeness before heading home to California.

More Busy Wanderings: Another Big British Adventure – Day 16

I decided last night not to take that train/bus day trip out of London today, so I slept in a bit this morning, woke up to a sunny sky, and decided I would spend the day wandering around the city, seeing new areas and revisiting old ones. My first destination was Regent’s Park – somewhere I didn’t manage to make it to last time – and once I was ready to face the day, I headed to Paddington and caught the Bakerloo Line to Baker Street. After stopping into one of the four or so Pret a Manger eateries on Baker Street to grab a sort of picnic lunch, I headed north to Regent’s Park … which was swarming with people out enjoying the sunshine and fresh air. I grabbed a bench along the water, eating my lunch as the park’s resident waterfowl swam by and the pigeons swarmed hopefully around any small children with sandwiches.    

    
 Once lunch was finished, I crossed the bridge and walked further into the park, slowly wandering my way around the boating lake and back to Baker Street, where I headed south through Marylebone to Mayfair, past Grosvenor and Berkeley Squares, eventually reaching Piccadilly, an area I’m somewhat familiar with after my last visit.   

After stopping into Boots (again … I swear I always seem to need something from Boots!), I passed the Ritz and turned south into Green Park which was also teeming with people out enjoying the sunshine and daffodils.  
 I crossed The Mall (sort of passing Buckingham Palace) into St. James’s Park – filled with more people and daffodils, along with some rather friendly and entertaining squirrels – winding my way through the herds crossing the bridge spanning the lake and turning onto Birdcage Walk, slowly making my way past Parliament Square to Westminster Station to catch the Circle Line back to Paddington and the flat. So, not an action packed day, but a nice one with a fair bit of walking … and navigating crowds of people more touristy than myself.

     

Busy Wanderings: My Big British Adventure – Day 2

My second day in London began bright, but not too early.  We headed out the door around 11 am and took the Tube to Leicester Square to pick up our London Passes, which get us into lots of amazing London attractions.  Then, we headed for the London Eye, which isn’t one of those attractions, but Fast Pass tickets purchased in advance ensured that we wouldn’t have to wait in line for very long at all.  We tried our hand at changing trains on our way with great success, ending up at Westminster station in no time.  The Thames greeted us as we emerged from the Underground, the London Eye staring at us (see what I did there?) from across the water, and there above us rose the Houses of Parliament and the iconic clock tower.  We made our way across Westminster Bridge, just two more sheep in the herds of tourists on a sunny – and very warm – day, and boarded the Eye, taking in breathtaking and far-reaching views of London as our capsule slowly made its way around.  I know it’s a very touristy thing to do, but the views make it worth navigating the crowds.

 

Once our capsule returned us to land, we made our way back across Westminster Bridge and had lunch at a pub across from Parliament.  We even had lunchtime entertainment, courtesy of the woman at the bar who was already pissed…and it was only very early afternoon.  After lunch, we ventured across Parliament Square to Westminster Abbey (covered by our London Pass).  After a quick wander inside St. Margaret’s Church, we entered the Abbey and received our little audio-tour thingies.  Numbers on our map indicated specific points of interest and when the matching numbers are pressed, Jeremy Irons’ amazing voice fills you in with more info.  So many people are commemorated there, it’s really quite amazing.  Most of the inscriptions are in Latin…which, unfortunately for me, I dropped after three weeks back at university.  The entire Abbey was absolutely breathtaking, completely awe-inspiring, and Henry VII’s Lady Chapel was particularly stunning.  Poet’s Corner was very interesting to wander through, especially as a literature major, and the Abbey shop had lots of interesting and fun souvenirs.

 

After the Abbey, we met up with a friend of C’s who also happens to be in London as part of an extended stop in the UK…and her custom’s official was just as unfriendly – if not more so – than mine.  She and C set off to wander and explore while I headed back to the flat to rest my already aching feet, the price for tons of walking in relatively new shoes (I knew better, but…), and stayed in for the rest of the night.  Although it seemed that we almost instantly adjusted to the eight hour time difference – thanks to the advice to hit the ground running – I was still feeling the effects of the 32 hours I was awake the day before.