Sunday, May 9, 2010

Day 23/24: London's calling

5/4: en route to London
5/5: London to Paris.

Our just over 24 hours in London was amazing.

Tuesday was a travel day.
The electricity had come back on at 6 am and like we predicted, all the lights. Good morning! We slept in anyways then got our stuff together and checked out of the padilla guesthouse in Barcelona. We decided to head back to the boqueria market on las ramblas even though it was raining. We had well I had read about these pastries called xixos at pinoxto but they were all gone by the time we got there. We found something similar at another stand, grabbed some more fruit juices (so awesome) and headed to the airport.

After an hour train, then walking to what seemed to be the farthest away terminal possible, we boarded.

Very bumpy 2 hrs later, hi London! Easyjet really was simple.

Then on to a bus for 1.5hrs! However it was a great way to see some country. Look like drive backwards!

Screeched into Victoria station, got comletely lost, then finally found our street. Quaint.

It was about 7pm after we checked in to easyhotel Victoria ( we did it all - plane bus and hotel by the easy co. Really good value and true, easy). We decided to just walk around. Headed to buckingham palace and green park. Ecstatic to find these!

Then headed to Harrods. London shuts down early, they were closed by 8 but it was still cool to peek inside.

Only thing open that wasn't arm and a leg :(

Back to our hotel. Had to take pics in phone booth on our street.

The next morning we got up really really early, hauled on our backpacks and headed to the train station kings cross st pancras. Morning commute on the tube is CRAZY. It was worse than a sardine can and having backpacks didn't help.
Kings cross is massive and very extinsive but we quickly dropped our bkpks in storage and hit up the tube again.
We started at Westminster. We walked out onto the Thames and saw this.

Turned around and saw this towering above us. We were even in time to hear the bells.

Made our way up the thames and in to trafalger square. The national gallery is free so we popped in. I snagged a very inconspicuous shot of one of my faves.

Walked some more of to st pauls cathedral and grabbed some lunch. My fish and chips were all I thought it'd be. Yum!

We headed down the millenium bridge (just like in Harry potter) to the Tate modern. Again, free!!! Awesome collection. Especially loved the Warhol room.

We wanted to see the borough market but we got a little lost. Stumbled on this which was very neat. We had just past the touristy globe when we left Tate.

Our train to Paris was in a couple of hours so we decided we didn't have enough time to continue on to see the tower because we wanted enough time to do the British library. We got back on the tube and headed to kings cross again, walked across the street and we were there. This is my favorite museum/library hands down. Their main room is the treasures of the British library room and that had the best collection of books, documents, plays, and music. Stuff from the beattles, Lewis Carrol, shakespeare, the 3 codex, magma carta, etc. Everything was in its own case, temp regulated, sensored, and the room was even guarded. We spent about an hour in just this room which was probably the size of 2 living rooms. You had to be a card holder to get into the actual library with the rare books and absolutely no one was allowed into the kings stash which was a vault in the mid of it all with floors and floors of books.
Sneaked a shot of the codex.

We spent too much time at the library so we raced around the corner, got out bkpks, checked in, thru customs, then finally on the train. It would be hard to not guess where we were headed. Everyone was speaking French.
The train was heaven after a full day of walking. I reviewed some French podcasts as I watched England disappear and France begin. If it wasn't for the few minute Chunnel of darkness, I wouldn't have even known it happened.

Thanks eurostar, hi Paris.

I'm gonna be honest, I instantly missed London. Everyone spoke English and the city was colorful, clean, exciting, friendly, big but quaint, busy but slow paced. I enjoyed the parks everywhere and the fact that elephants statues were everywhere made it seem too coincidental. The food was great too.
My first impression of Paris. Dirty and scary. Perhaps because of the hour - 10 pm, I don't know. We hadn't experienced any sketchiness so far in our travels (even in Barcelona where I read it was the worst). On our metro home, we saw so much graffiti, beggars (on the metro), and rowdiness. Id like to say our metro experience has improved in paris but id like to add the smell of pee. But i learned you cant judge a city by its metro. Once off the metro, we got lost again and a few people (especially one man and his son ) helped us find our way. The area is very nice in the 16th arrondisemont and our neighbor is the former president of France so our street is 24/7 guarded by police. We dropped off our stuff in a very cute studio (complete w bathroom tv and kitchenette) all to our self, grabbed some groceries, and then passed out.

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