After Oxford, I spent a day in London. The friend I was staying with, Sheridan, had to work for the day so I took a bus into the city in the morning and would meet back with her in the evening. As I had been a tourist in London before, I decided to have a low-key day, meandering the streets and enjoying the warm air.
I walked from Victoria Station to Buckingham Palace and then continued along St. James's Park towards the river. The park was a lovely place to think, journal, and people watch. It was also full of many different species of birds, which were somewhat neat and somewhat gross. I followed the park to the British Parliamentary buildings which included the infamous Big Ben and beautiful Westminster Abbey.
After this I crossed the Thames and strolled along the South Bank passing The London Eye, National Theatre, and Tate Modern. Initially, I was planning on going in the Tate but it was now past 1 o'clock and I was well ready for lunch. I had my mind set on fish and chips but had yet to see any for a price I was willing to pay, so I continued across the Millennium Bridge to spot a pub with take away for half the price of anything in Southbank. I took it to the park surrounding St. Paul's Cathedral and enjoyed the view as I ate.
Next I was on a mission to find a Swatch store to pick up a replacement watch buckle for Sheridan. Google told me there was one in a mall nearby but after circling the building (and trying a few things on at TopShop) I discovered that it did not exist. I decided to rent a bicycle and bike to Liverpool Street Station, where I hoped google was correct with the location of another store. I had a bit of confusion getting the bike sorted out, but a nice man loaned me his phone to call the help number and we got it all sorted (quick shout out to the bicycle rental system in London which allows you to use bikes all day for just 2 pounds as long as your rides are less than 30 minutes each). I got a little bit lost biking, as I was focused more on keeping to the proper side of the street and not getting hit by a car than I was on keeping track of which cross-streets I was passing. Eventually I ditched the bike and found it much easier to orient myself on foot. Finally I located the shop and had the 2 pound clasp replaced.
Sheridan had suggested I check out the artsy Shoreditch area, so looking at a map I figured if I biked to Shoreditch Park I would find myself near the right place. It was a lovely bike but once I got there I realized that this was definitely not the trendy street she was suggesting. I cycled back to a main looking road I had crossed and found a hip coffee shop to use their wifi and sort out where I was. I ordered an over-priced cold pressed juice and felt like I was going against everything I believed in (or at least against my vow to never buy cold pressed juice because it's expensive). But when in London, right?
By this time it was getting close to the time I had told Sheridan and our friend Katherine that I would meet them for dinner near Kings Cross, so I grabbed another bike and followed Great Eastern Street (which turned to Commercial Street) southeast towards Aldgate East Underground which I would then take to Kings Cross. As I was cycling I noticed a lot of shops popping up so I stopped to wander a couple of them (including a market that was just closing) before hopping on the tube. I am just now looking on a proper map and seeing that the actual Shoreditch Neighbourhood was just north of the hipster juice and coffee bar place I had stopped at. I'm disappointed I missed it but this gives me another reason to go back, I suppose.
I met up with Katherine and Sheridan (she had driven in with my backpack after her day at work) for another of many Spanish reunions on this trip and we enjoyed catching up over vino and tapas. After dinner Sheridan and I took the underground to Piccadilly where we had tickets to see The Book of Mormon and afterwords I took a commuter train up to Katherine's place to spend the night (more like a few hours) before flying to Zurich early in the morning.
The Book of Mormon was incredible. I adore musicals, and was so glad I didn't leave London without a night at the theatre. The talent in this cast was amazing and the audience was laughing the whole way through. If you've heard any reviews, you'll know that the dialogue in the show is very crude, but it also brings attention to some important themes including the purpose and effectiveness of American missionaries working in foreign cultures as well as the horrific reality of FGM. If you can handle course language, lewd content, and a little bit of blasphemy then don't hesitate to catch this show.
Here are some photographs from my day in London.