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11 April 2005

already gone

the weather in london was amazing today and i had a kicking day. started with a tour around the city courtesy of big bus tours. big bus tours runs three different bus routes around the city and riders can get off and back on at any of the stops for a full 24 hours after purchasing a ticket. i'd originally planned to hit either the tate modern or the national gallery today, but the weather was so nice i wanted to stay outside for most of the day... i kicked back in a seat on the open-air top deck of the doubledecker bus and took in the sites.

after one complete loop around the city which took about two hours i got off at the london bridge stop and decided to check out the 'london dungeon' attraction. i knew that to some extent this attraction was just a glorified haunted house, but i was hoping there would be some museum-like exhibits inside which would provide more information about the horrors of london's past (the torture and prisons, the bubonic plague of 1665, the great fire of 1666, jack the ripper, etc.). there were very few exhibits as it turned out and in retrospect i should have asked some more questions before buying the fairly expensive ticket. fun, but it really wasn't worth the ticket price.

a slight digression on prices and exchange rates: things are expensive in london. as of my first atm withdrawl last tuesday, 1 british pound = 1.86 us dollars... almost double. unfortunately, the price tags on most things in london could just as well be in us dollars. i've read that it's best to stop doubling all of the prices in your head to determine the cost of an item in usd and to just think of pounds as dollars while in the uk. i haven't been able to do that yet. the tower of london ticket was £14 ($26.04 us). the big bus tour ticket was £18 ($33.48 us). pricey. i've been really fortunate to have a place to stay while i'm here. sam's generosity has saved me a lot of money. thanks again sam! -the lodger

the big bus tour ticket included a one-way river cruise down the thames, so i made my way over to the tower of london pier. while we waited for the boat to depart, the captain announced that the tower bridge spans would be opening up to allow a ship into the 'pool of london', the expanse of the thames directly in front of the tower of london. the river cruise, like the bus tour, turned out to be relaxing and it was great to be outside while the weather was so nice.

back on land by the westminster bridge, i decided to take a walk through green park and up to buckingham palace. what a great day... i feel like i've been hitting so many of the tourist attractions that i haven't really had a chance to just relax and enjoy the day. i got some ice cream which tasted like... not really the ice cream i'm used to but more like... coolwhip, i suppose. yum. i really enjoyed my time in the park and resolved to insert more relaxation time in my days. while it's tough right now because there's so much to do and see in london, i think it will gradually become easier as the trip progresses.

i ended the day with a walking tour (also included with my big bus tour ticket). by the time i got back to the flat, my back was aching. my back has been holding up surprisingly well for the amount of walking i've been doing over the past week. i've only been carrying my small daypack however; i think things will change once i'm on the road with THE pack. i anticipate throwing out a few things before the trip is over... toothbrush container: already gone. all underwear: already gone. no, not really.

posted by paul on Mon 11 Apr 2005 at 22:19:00 est (-05:00)


The Dutch couple from the ghost/pub walk.

Hey Paul,

We ran into you during the end of day walk from the Big Bus. Too many pubs and too little proper ghost-stories remember?

So we ended up talking travel and music half an hour in a crowded warm pub, wasn't all that bad was it?

We'll be keeping track of you! We hope you'll like our quaint little country as much as London, just a summary of our hints and advice (limited and subjective though it may be) about your visit here:
Rent a bicycle in Amsterdam to get around cheap and easy and see it at leisure; don't skip a few hours in the Vondelpark looking at the mixed crowd that crawls the city daily. Visit Utrecht as well, at half an hour traindistance from A'dam: nice cobblestreets with shops, great (pub-) atmosphere, good city vibes. If you have more time: visit Maastricht way down south (2.5 hours from A'dam)for an old-fashioned, historic city, or Enkhuizen (where I grew up) about an hour north of Amsterdam, where you can see the heritage of peasant life from the train out there (it's a polder: used to be sea until we built a dike) and the town itself is lovely with a bay, outdoor-historic-museum and just good atmosphere and architecture.
So much for that.

Generally: we admire your guts and wish you glory at your recon of the world! Enjoy!

posted by Jenny on Sat 16 Apr 2005 at 07:26:19 est (-05:00)

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