I have three individual posts about London for this week, so if you don't like to read about traveling...either brace yourself or just don't read. Maybe - just maybe - I'll try to intersperse them with other things, but I can't promise anything!
Since almost all of my traveling these days is business travel, any time that I have for sight-seeing is extremely limited. As a result, I've developed what I think could be most accurately called "walk-by tourism." In other words, I make a dent on the surface of the city, covering as many things as possible in the shortest amount of time. I did a similar thing back when I traveled to Norway in May. On this trip, I finished working on Thursday evening and then got dinner in a charming little pub called the Rose and Crown. Chaz said that it was a must-do on my trip, because he ate there any time he traveled to the same location.
On Friday, I woke up very early so that I could make my way into London. My flight wasn't until 7:15 that evening, so by the time I finally made it into the city at 10:30, I had approximately 5 or 5.5 hours until I needed to start making my way to the airport. Naturally, I decided to cram as many things as were humanly possible into those five hours, and I think I succeeded! In total, I walked almost exactly 5 miles. Here's the pictorial evidence:
Stop 1: Victoria and Albert Museum
This was the only stop where I actually spent a significant amount of time. It's a beautiful museum and it's free, which is always a plus! It's full of magnificent artwork, including sculptures, which are my favorite. This time they also had an exhibit about fashion through the ages, and they had examples of dresses from each decade starting in the 70s and going back to about 1750. After about an hour and a half, I started walking. First, I walked through Harrods, because when in London...
It was far too luxurious for my taste, so I stopped at H&M immediately after that. Who needs Prada when you can get a dress for $15?
I also passed one of these guys on the way:
After Harrods/H&M, I continued on to Buckingham Palace:
I made a special note to include the collection of mysterious royal music stands in the photo.
After that, I hopped on the tube and made my way to St. Paul's Cathedral. I had every intention of going inside to look around, but after entering the foyer and discovering that it cost £18, I decided to be satisfied with the view I could get from the line and then a perusal of the outside, which is also impressive.
Can you tell that I like that angle...?
At this point, it was 2:30 and I had covered all the things that I definitely wanted to get into my trip. But I still had an hour and a half, so I found a nearby map of London and plotted my continuing route: cross the Thames by way of the Millennium Bridge (you know...the one you see the dementors fly over in Harry Potter 5, 6, 7, or maybe 8), walk along the river and pass the Globe Theater, walk until finding the Tower Bridge (the big fancy one), and pass by the Tower of London. And so that's what I did, along with some additional things I stumbled across along the way:
After that, I bought myself a sweatshirt and headed back to the airport with rather sore feet.
1) It is entirely possible to see a lot of a city in five hours if you're willing to go quickly. Now I feel like if I go back, I can check out a couple of things in greater depth and not feel like I'll miss out on the other major attractions.
2) You don't have to spend a lot of money to get a good overview of London. My most expensive purchase (other than the sweatshirt...) was a £17.50 travelcard pass that let me go on any bus or tube for the entire day. That saved me a lot, since I took the train from all the way outside the city in the beginning of the day, between areas of the city in the middle of the day, and all the way back out to the airport at the end.
3) London has a lot of really cool stuff!
And there you have it.