Thursday, June 30, 2011

When You're Tired of London, You're Tired of Life

There are places in the world more different than Reykjavik than London, but at the moment, it hardly feels like two places could be more different. I got my first London wake-up call when I went to watch the changing of the guard yesterday morning only to discover I was too frustrated with the crowds to stay until the end and escaped instead to Green Park to sit under a tree and read. Vowing to avoid all places touristy, I started ambling along only to break my vow when I stumbled on Westminster Abbey.

Traveling in London has given me a bit of a traveler's epiphany: I want to see a place for what it is, not what the postcards and travel books make it out to be. In London, that means accepting the fact that a million tourists are going to get in your attempted shots of Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey, so understand that is part of the package and photograph accordingly. It also helped me get through today, when a massive strike/demonstration meant the tour bus I was on got utterly off-track. I decided to hop off the tour bus and just walk, ending up seeing a side of London you don't see every day: the London filled with Police everywhere and the London street full of people picketing and marching for whatever justice they are demanding. The Julie that would have been eager to check sites off a tour list would have been frustrated at the inconvenience, but with this new travel paradigm (which I started to develop in China) of just wandering to see what you see, I must say I ended up enjoying the day.

Of course, it can't hurt that in two days in London, I haven't felt a drop of rain. (it was threatening while I was on my river cruise today, but I missed the rain ducking into a Starbucks for a reading break)

So the pictures I share of London are less focused on all the famous sites (though I did get a nice photo of the parliament buildings and Big Ben) and more on the things I found interesting along the way. Google images, I'm sure, will provide much better pictures of the famous buildings and parks, though sadly, they won't have my face in them. ;-)

A butler out walking dogs in Green Park near Buckingham Palace.

Tourists clamor to take pictures with the guards.

Possibly the most useful signage in all of London, "look right" reminds you which way the cars are coming from on this side of the pond so you don't inadvertently walk in front of one!

Police walk with the peaceful strikers.

A group of teenagers (I think? My age radar has been way off lately) also demonstrates. I find it kind of ironic seeing as how I think the strike was somehow related to pensions, but it's nice to see they are thinking of their future.

One of only two photos of famous sites I'll post, we saw the bridge go up on the Tower Bridge during our river cruise. The guide seemed to imply it was some sort of treat, but also said it happens 500 times a year... Don't know that I'd call that a rare occurrence.

And finally, the Parliament buildings and Big Ben.


Rochell Biggs said...

Hurray for me I was able to score an accommodation near luton airport! London here I come! I'm so excited I can barely sleep. I'm looking forward to seeing those beautiful views myself. Yay!

Elspeth Crompton said...

Well, I live in an apartment in central london which has a spectacular view of Thames and just a few walks from Buckingham and honestly, I never get tired of it. I felt so lucky on being able to enjoy the luxury of living in the city.