England Part 6 : Big Ben, Harrods, and Coming Home!

September 7, 2014

This last England post has got all the feels. Amazement. Shock. Bemusement. Relief. And yes, a little anger. “Anger?” you ask. Yes, dear reader. Frustration and disbelief at how careless and thoughtless other people can be. It all started when we went to Abbey Road.

We walked there from the underground station and as we grew closer, I’m not going to lie, it seemed a little underwhelming. Then we stopped and tried to take a photo. Oh, foolhardy, innocent little travellers – don’t even try. I wish someone could have warned me for just how popular it was going to be – I probably should have guessed though. There was a constant stream of people walking across the famous crossing strip time and time again, trying to get it just right so their friend, who was standing in the middle of the street whilst double-decker buses zoomed past on either side, could snatch a photo of them doing an extremely exaggerated walk which was more akin to the Python’s silly walk than anything the Beatles ever did *inhales* So, yeah, I found it a tad frustrating and almost jumped for joy when I was able to take this photo. It’s the clearest shot with the best angle I could get with nothing impeding the crossing so I was quite the chuffed.

It should be made known that I have a small obsession with Big Ben. I have no idea where it came from but any time during our travels I knew I was close to the clock tower, I became determined to take the perfect shot. I reckon 20% of the photos I took on this trip are all different angles of Big Ben. I was just constantly amazed at how impressive he was – I never got sick of looking at him. This was my favourite shot. It may not be perfect but I really loved it and even framed it for some gifts once I got back home.

Now, I don’t consider myself to be a very “girly-girl” in that I don’t have a huge interest in anything stereotypically deemed “feminine”. I like style and fashion but I cannot be bothered following trends and I am so stingy I sometimes think op-shops are trying to rip me off. So I wasn’t hugely motivated to visit Harrods but we were nearby and thought why the heck not. Turns out there was a ONCE IN A LIFETIME SALE ON FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY…of 10%. But we thought we’d just have a look around and see what it’s like.

First of all. It’s not a store, it’s a frickin’ luxury palace with gold everywhere. I didn’t feel like I could touch anything. Not even the handrail on the escalators. Second of all. The prices. What is up with them?? These shoes were just, you know, the casual price of £1, 300.

That’s roughly $2, 200.

For shoes!

Things you put on your feet and walk around in. Probably only for “this season”, too.

Holy shitballs! My little cheapskate brain couldn’t process it properly so I think I responded by awkwardly laughing and backing away from the table.

What better way to recover from a mild shock to the system than visit a beautiful, quiet art gallery. The National Gallery has Monet’s Water Lilies on display, as well as Van Gogh’s Sunflowers (which I have a soft spot for from year 10 Art and Doctor Who). Obviously no photos were allowed inside but I bought some postcard versions of my favourite pieces and some awesome wrapping paper with the underground map on it – both of which I think will be lovely in photo frames.

This is presumably London’s version of the love lock bridge in Paris…I think you need to pick up your game, London. Just quietly. Anyway, this is the Millennium Bridge – the one featured in the sixth Harry Potter film – we sort of stumbled upon it, didn’t really plan on seeing it, but I was glad we did. I’m not really into architecture and engineering and such but I liked the way it twisted and bent. The way it framed St. Paul’s cathedral from one end was pretty awesome, too.

As it was the last day in old England-town, we thought we’d catch a river cruise up the Thames. It was a great way to see the popular sites like London Bridge (quite possibly the most underwhelming bridge I’ve seen. The original was apparently better.), Big Ben (more photos were taken), Westminster, and the London Eye.

The cruise was a wonderful way to cap off our last day. After an early dinner (where “chicken nuggets, chips, and beans” meant chicken nuggets, chips, and baked beans) we caught THE busiest bus back to Paddington Station where there was a Heathrow Express waiting for us.

On the flight home, I could only think of all the positive things from the trip – yes, people were annoying and inconsiderate at times, but that all melted away when I started thinking about how happy and excited I was that I had just explored a little bit of England, somewhere I’ve wanted to go for a long, long time. I was also pretty proud of myself for presenting at a conference (I didn’t blog about that because I figured it was fairly boring for anyone outside the area) and engaging in the awful, cringe-worthy behaviour that is networking. Here are some final thoughts I jotted down in my travel journal while I waited for my departing flight:

  • I’m surprisingly good at navigating the underground.
  • Some men (and women) are very pushy, in a physical moving-around-you-almost-through-you-as-if-you-don’t-exist sense.
  • I should have brought a backpack.
  • I think I need new feet.
  • Or maybe just new shoes. But not £1, 300 ones.
  • Seeing homeless people breaks my heart.
  • London is a beautiful, hectic city with a lot to see and offer.
  • I will be back!

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6 Comments
    1. Oh such a great post. Brought back lots of memories for me. I love London. My brother has lived there for the past eight years and I wish we could go back and spend some time with him and his wife. But it's just such a long way from Australia and costs so much to get there (especially as a family of five). I love Big Ben too. That is a great shot.

    1. That must be really hard being so far away from your brother, Deb. It certainly is a long and expensive flight, my bank account and I remember it well! It would be a lovely trip to take again one day though 🙂 Well worth it with all the rich history and things to see and do. I hope you and I can both make it back there some day in the future 🙂

    1. Thanks, Joan! I did, I had an absolutely wonderful time and I wish I was going back sometime soon. I'm glad you enjoyed the posts 🙂

    1. I just 'binge-read' (is that a thing?) your England posts in order…I feel like I've been on holiday with you. You're a great writer – and so funny! I lived in England in 2004/2005, in Bath where I worked at a book shop, and in Cambridge. Your blog has inspired me to write about that time at some point. Thanks! And once the travel bug bites there is no going back. Where will you go next? x

    1. Yes, it's a thing! I do it all the time! Thank you so much for your lovely words, Isabel – they are much appreciated!

      I had such an amazing time over in England – I would love to go back there or maybe even work there for awhile. Working in a book shop sounds perfect! You should definitely write about it – I for one would love to read it.

      I think Tasmania is probably going to the next trip or maybe New Zealand. Nowhere particularly far away but they're both gorgeous places that I'd love to visit sooner rather than later.

      Thank you again so much for your sweet comment! x

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