A sunny day in London town
Friday 17th October
Our London day trip started nice and early, in order to maximise the sites we could take in and minimise the rushing around. A 0615 wake up was a rude shock given the late starts we’ve had thus far this week. We took the taxi to the bus stop for our 0730 megabus.com journey into London. Half way through the trip, I realised the bus had free wifi, which made the rest of the 2 hour 40 minute bus ride breeze by. At this time of day, traffic wasn’t too bad until we got into the west end of London. The bonus for us was that London really turned the weather on for us, none of that stereotypical rainy, cold stuff.
We got into Victoria Coach Station and started our journey towards Buckingham Palace (in the wrong direction). We had a few things going against us, being dropped into the middle of an unfamiliar place with no point of reference, but after about ten minutes, we wheeled around and headed in the right direction.
Victoria Coach Station
After about 15 minutes, Buckingham Palace started coming into view. The gate is massive, like, “oh hell no, we don’t want you in here” massive. I get the feeling that a lot of the sites we visit for the rest of our trip are going to be packed with tourists.
And STAY OUT!
At Buckingham Palace
From Buckingham Palace, we strolled along St James Park (complete with ducks and rabid* squirrels) towards Big Ben. Now, I’m not saying Big Ben isn’t really that big, it’s just that with everything around it being really quite big, Big Ben was in proportion. It’d certainly look big in Adelaide, that’s for sure.
Squirrel in the wild
From here we took a leisurely walk along the Thames towards Tower Bridge, passing the London Eye and yet another Walkabout pub - they’re apparently a chain. The walk from Big Ben to the Tower Bridge was about 4.5km and unfortunately, Rhi’s hip started causing her some trouble part of the way there. We got as far as the London Bridge, which we decided would be the best place to take pictures from as getting any closer would have put us on the Tower Bridge.
After the Tower Bridge, we headed inland to find a cash machine and start making our journey back to the coach station for our return to Bristol. Turns out there are still more things to see in London, which I guess isn’t really unbelievable, given how large London is. We saw the Monument to the Great Fire of London and St Paul’s Cathedral. At this point, we sought the counsel of an information centre to find a Barclays Bank (before Rhi killed me), before jumping on the underground back to Victoria.
Monument to the Great Fire of London
St Paul's Cathedral
I know London has had a bit of a head start on us with their train system, but it is amazing. Trains run frequently, on time, and it is seriously easy to get anywhere, even if you do need a line change. Took us about 20 minutes to get back to Victoria Station, where we grabbed a bite to eat - McDonald’s, of course - and back to the coach station… two hours before our bus. Unfortunately, having a megabus booking meant we couldn’t change it to an earlier bus unless we wanted to pay for tickets again.
It's the little things
Victoria Station McDonald's
In hindsight, we probably could have booked an earlier bus. Better plan, don’t book the return bus until you’re ready to return. Best case scenario, you get on the earliest bus available, worst case, you have to wait for a couple of hours (there’s multiple services by multiple providers), so you might end up paying more but you’d get out eventually. I thought the traffic we experienced heading into Bristol on Tuesday was bad, Friday night rush hour was another thing entirely. It took us an hour to get through the West End and then a whole three minutes to hit another pocket of congestion on the M4. The pockets of congestion continued for the next hour, before we finally hit smooth sailing to Bristol, arriving about 40 minutes later than scheduled.
We made a quick trip to another cash machine - I hate carrying cash, but I also don’t want to be with too little as I don’t know how much things cost - then took a cab to the right part of St Werburgh’s (a couple of blocks from Pete and Laura’s place), which Rhi grumbled about, but I had it under control. We met another couple of Pete and Laura’s friends, enjoyed a few drinks, more of Pete’s delicious mac and cheese and good music, before retiring to pack and get ready for our departure from Britain.
All in all, a great time was had - we wish we could have stayed longer and can’t wait to be able to make the trip over again sometime!
* Squirrels may or may not have been rabid.Back home