Round the world - city #3: London
London was interesting on this trip as, unlike New York and Barcelona, I'd actually been there before (in this millenium, even), although I didn't remember too much of it. The main reason was to visit a friend who I know from Sydney but had been doing research in Southampton for many months, so my itenerary was: arrive very late at night, train to Waterloo (catching the Heathrow express was pretty nice, even at 11pm at night after a flight. thankfully, everyone speaking english helped, plus free Wifi on train!) then walk to my hotel and finally check in at 1am.
I managed to find a fairly reasonably priced place called the Mad Hatter, which felt very British-y including the pub downstairs (always busy, a good sign) and tea everywhere in my room. The type of place I was pretty sure noone would bother trying to steal my stuff, a welcome change given the events in Barcelona.
Early morning checkout the next day, then carrying a backpack of stuff back to Waterloo (for I'd be back at the Hatter in two nights) for another train all the way south to Southampton. Tip which I learnt on this trip: Southampton only has one h. The Ampton is south, I guess...
Sadly I didn't get any pictures from the train, but I was (expectedly) impressed as always at how green everywhere in England seems to be most of the time. Growing up in Australia, I kind of expect that if you travel long enough, you get to desert or at least brown outback, whereas this trip was habitable greenery after habitable greenery. Above is some of the aforementioned greenery, this time from Romsey, a small town my friend (hey Jen!) had been visiting as part of her research. In particular, this is part of the Romsey memorial park, just off The Meads (in fact, here), near other impressively British sounding roads like Brewery Lane, Portersbridge Street and Landsdowne Gardens. Not a hugely busy location, but english town suburbia does strike me as a relaxing and scenic, family-friendly place.
The next day was my train return back to London and the Mad Hatter, arriving late and ambling up north to the Thames before finally finding a nearby pub which was still serving foods (many seemed to stop serving before dinner, unfortunately) - pretty single-foreigner-friendly with a good view of the neighbouring bridge (Blackfriar's, which conveniently is nicely lit at night) and they even brought me the wrong pie at first, so replaced it and gave me a free Guinness, in british glass sizes too so I was glad it was in walking distance...
The next day I had much of the time free to walk up north of the bridge and do the standard touristy stuff - including taking the photo of the cheeky roadsign above, located just opposite the Savoy which I'd watch being furnished on the english apprentice the night before (sadly, streetview doesn't have the decoration yet...).
I hadn't planned anything, so as with the latter part of Barcenlona, just meandered around where interesting stuff seemed to be - Buckingham Palace (below, in the wedding fever aftermath), Hyde park, Picadilly Circus, Saville Row, the Royal Academy of Arts (which is the source of Leibnitz and the red phone booths in my album) plus, as you can see above, the Eye and Parliament to round out my trip. My return was then about 20hr of premium economy, of which I was awake for about 3, so nothing there to report (other than iced-coffee in Singapore airport was nice...).
All in all, England was the least novel, but therefore also the most comfortable. Having lived in Sydney, if I was told tomorrow that I had to move to London, I wouldn't be worried - in fact, the subway and soccer-crazy culture, and convenient day trips are probably good upgrades, though the balanced by the huge population (both packed in the city and spreading out) and all that it entails.
Thanks again to Jen and her two housemates who were my host in Southampton, and for you readers who waited all this time for the conclusion!
P.S: apologies for the very long delay. You seen, I've been on 4 trips since then (California for 2 weeks, skiing at Perisher for one, hiking south of Wollongong for one weekend and a few days during one week up north of Sydney for work) and involved in launching a few projects - plus more to come! But never fear, I'll have another post because of the current work, and hopefully before then, one more revisit of Barcelona.