Way back in March Diana bought us a trip to London as a birthday gift for me. The idea was that we'd do a few days there when my 90-day tourist visa was up and then come back to Spain with a new 90-day visa. Unfortunately, we later learned that the way tourist visas work in the Schengen EU countries (which England is not a part of), I could only be in Spain 90 out of every 180 days. Damn. Anyway, we decided that we'd still go to London for the few days and that I'd fly back to the U.S. from there and she'd head back to Spain.
We arrived into London on Wednesday morning and visited all the tourist hotspots during our three-day speed visit. One of the things that I had always heard about was the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace. Umm...maybe because it was summertime or something but the place was a zoo and we couldn't see anything of the event. I got this one picture of actual guards in the plaza in front of the palace but I didn't get to see much else:
We bailed on the rest of the show and took a walk along the Thames river stopping by Westminster Abbey on the way. We didn't end up going in because the entry fee was something like $25 so we contented ourselves with some photos out front.
Can I just mention that I couldn't believe how expensive everything was? For example, the metro costs 4.40 Pounds (approximately $7 U.S.) for a pass that can be used all day after 9:30am. There's no cheaper single-ride option. I know part of the problem is that the U.S. dollar is almost worthless right now but, wow, was it expensive.
We eventually worked our way down to the Tate Modern Museum and hung out there for a couple of hours while one of London's rain storms passed by. I'm thinking that London's a little like Seattle in that when the sun actually does come out everyone says how beautiful the city is and how lucky they are to live there. In between those eight days per year though they stay inside and drink hot beverages.
Our next stop was a quick pass by Shakespeare's Old Globe Theater. The original was destroyed by fire but it was still cool to check out. Ironically enough, there's an exact copy in Balboa Park in San Diego so it seemed very familiar to me.
We walked all the way up to the famous Tower Bridge, which I guess many people confuse as the kid's nursery rhyme's London Bridge. The bridge is fantastic looking and there's an old castle off to one side.
Later we passed by the Royal Albert Hall, which is supposedly a great place to see live shows. One thing is that the name shouldn't be confused with a Prince Albert, which is something completely different.
Diana wanted to go check out the O2 Arena because of its textile construction. We took the metro up there and walked around inside and out. The structure was supposed to be temporary but they're now trying to keep it alive as a shopping and entertainment destination. The building's design is super cool, even for a non-architect like me.
London is nice to visit and it's probably the "easiest" place outside the U.S. I've ever gone to. I guess it helps that they speak an unusual form of English that's a little tough to understand but you can work your way through it and figure out what they're saying most of the time.