I tend to forget how big London really is; 12 million people live in London and the sprawl of London has now gotten its own sprawl. I took the Eurostar train from Brussels in the morning, and once my train arrived in London, I set off to find my B&B. After some trouble finding the place, I left my luggage at the B&B and set off to explore.
I was fortunate to have found living quarters close to the centre of it all and after some short while of walking, I ran into Westminster Abbey. Despite the high tariffs for entry, I went inside and I was amazed by the grandeur of the abbey. It was a bit surreal to be standing near the tombs of Shakespeare, Newton, Darwin, and several others. I felt at peace in the abbey and felt that the money spent to see the inside was well spent.
After leaving, I walked to the Thames (where the main attractions are) and saw the Parliament buildings and the London Eye. I knew that the London Eye would provide a good view of the city, and allow my feet to rest, so I walked to the queue to buy tickets. I entered the queue and realized there was a 2 hour wait to get tickets. Fortunately, a man standing in line wanting a refund for a ticket asked me if I wanted to go on the Eye and buy the ticket from him. I was a bit skeptical buying the ticket initially, but he explained that he purchased the tickets online and that his wife was afraid of heights and didn’t fancy going to the top. I saw the online confirmation, and the distressed look on the mans face, so I decided to take him up on the offer… with the condition that he sell me the ticket for 10 pounds instead of the original price of 17 pounds. He agreed, and I got my ticket with little hassle.
It was high noon by that time and the sun was in full force. I decided riding on the Eye at the time was not a good idea, I instead walked to Leicester square and bought 1/2 price tickets for the evening showing of Les Miserables. After buying my ticket, and enjoying Leicester sqauare, I took the Tube to walked to Piccadilly Circus and enjoyed perusing the shops.
While I find the Brussels Metro system to be difficult to understand, the Tube in London is the easiest and most efficient way of getting around. I took the tube often in London as I had bought an unlimited 3 day pass and I wanted to get the most of it. London is also very big and walking from place to place is difficult.
It was still quite sunny outside, so I decided that I would walk by Buckingham Palace before riding on the London Eye. My favorite things in London are the parks. I walked through Green Park and arrived at the Palace and was a bit underwhelmed by the dullness of the palace. I spent all of about 10 minutes there to take a few photos and left. Not too much excitement or fuss to be made.
I then ventured off to the London eye and enjoyed the opportunity to give my tired feet a rest and see a great panoramic view of the city. After the ride, I walked along the Thames and got a feel for the city. The path along the Thames is full of interesting places; modern art museums, fish and chip pubs, cute shops, churches, numerous bridges, and a theater… the Shakespeare globe.
I was in awe and loved walking through the city and nearly lost track of the time. I hopped on the Tube from the London Bridge station and rode to Picadilly Circus to watch the play: Les Miserables.
The play was absolutely wonderful. I liked it so much, that I decided that I would see another the following day. After the play let out, I wandered a bit in the Soho district and when I was sufficiently tired, I took the Tube back to the Victoria station, walked back to the B&B and fell fast asleep. A great first day in London!