So how to spend an afternoon in London? There are a a million ways of doing this, where each one would be completely different from the previous one. There is so much to see! This is at least one of the ways you could do it, and how me and my Dad chose to approach it this weekend. Hope my description makes some sense, I tried to remember place names and stuff for future reference. To be honest, it was about time I went and saw London, as I have travelled through it so many times on my way home to Norway, but actually never seen it as the entire journey through the city is done underground. Also, when you’re studying in England, it’s a must to go and experience one of the most famous capitols in the world, at least once!
On Sunday morning, my Dad and I arrived at London Victoria Station at around 11 o’clock, and had planned to spend a couple of hours in this massive and exciting city before heading to campus in Norwich. After arriving at Victoria Station via the Gatwick express from Gatwick Airport, we immediately headed out into the crowded streets of London (luggage and all), and made our way towards Buckingham Palace. To start with London seems hugely overwhelming (even on a “quiet Sunday morning”). It’s noisy, busy and there are people absolutely everywhere. Walking in a straight line is near impossible, you have to twist and turn and walk in every direction apart from straight forward to progress in the sea of people. Bumping into a couple is inevitable. When you get passed the initial shock though, and learn to accept the bustling atmosphere of London you stop worrying about it and start looking around and seeing all the interesting things London has to offer. The first things to catch my attention was the classic red double decker buses, all the shop windows and all the flash cars driving around (including the Jaguar E type underneath).
After making our way through the masses of people we finally arrived at Buckingham Palace at quarter to twelve where we quickly realized we actually would be lucky enough to just catch the changing of the guards! Seeing the changing of the guards is a definite must if you go to London! It was so pompous and royal, and you appreciate witnessing a tradition that goes back hundreds of years! To be honest though, I thought it was a bit funny as well, as they look so hilarious with their fluffy hats. Haha.. What on earth are they all about.
Afterwards we had a quick stroll down the main road called the Mall (?), to see if we could catch a glimpse of Prince Charles and Camilla at their place in London; Clarence House. Haha, obviously we didn’t see them, but we did get a closer view of the guards standing in front of the gates before heading through Green Park towards Piccadilly.
Walking up Piccadilly was exciting! My dad knew a whole lot more about this area than me, and could point out all the interesting buildings and events for me too see. It’s nice having someone there who knows a bit about London so that you really truly experience the city, instead of being on your own and only seeing the surface of it all. He told me how him and mum used to come up here for a day when they were younger, to see the the exhibitions in Burlington House followed by afternoon tea at Fortnum and Mason. Cuties! I myself, caught a glimpse through a window of people having afternoon tea at perhaps one of the poshest places in London, namely the Ritz. The whole atmosphere looked like something from the 1920s. Perhaps somewhere Geeves and Wooster would hang out in the afternoon.
Underneath are picture of Burlington House where the Royal Academy of Arts, The Royal Society of Chemistry, The Royal Astronomical Society and the Linnean Society of London are. I seem to remember Dad telling me that this was the place Charles Darwin first presented his theory of the Origins of Species, together with Alfred Russell Wallace (who also independently conceived the idea of evolution through means of natural selection) at the Linnean Society. I think they might even have the very first copy of the book too! The last picture is a gold cafe in Burlington Arcade… Just… wow.. speechless..
Underneath are pictures of delicious treats from Fortnum and Mason! Wouldn’t mind coming back one day and trying a couple of those yummy things! Everything here was so fancy and posh!
General shots from Piccadilly. There were lots of bicycles everywhere that are part of a public bike hiring scheme in London set up by Mayor Boris Johnson. Really good idea, might want to try them next time!
Lastly we grabbed a taxi from Piccadilly as it was almost the same price as taking the tube, so we could see more of the surface of London. Our friendly taxi driver, with a propper “Landan accent” took a rout towards Liverpool Street Station that allowed us to drive through and see Trafalgar Square, and catch a glimpse of Big Ben and the London Eye from the Embankment. He was telling us all about the new building that have been built the last years and what nicknames they already have gained, which included the “Cheese grater” and “The Walkie-talkie”. Also some of the hilarious faults with their designs, like how “The Walkie Talkie’s” concave, glass design turned out to be a massive reflector which actually managed to melt a jaguar car.
At Liverpool Street Station we had a lovely Italian meal followed by a quick walk outside to look at all the lovely old buildings. I love how London is a chaotic mess of old and new, and how it somehow works. It’s definitely a city with great personality and history, friendly people and diversity.
The train to Norwich set off at 15.30, and I was sad to leave this amazing place! I saw a lot in only four hours, but boy, you could spend a lifetime here and still not have seen it all! I really want to come back soon! 😀