Friday, July 15, 2011

London: Nerdster's Paradise

Ah London, one of my favourite cities. After another 4am start to get the bus to Pamplona, another bus to airport in Bilbao, a flight to Stanstead and 2 more train rides and a bit of a walk to get to my hostel I pretty much immediately fell asleep as soon as I saw a real bed so the first day was relatively uneventful. The hostel was literally a 2 minute walk to Hyde Park and right around the corner from the Royal Albert Hall so once I did manage to wake myself up a bit went exploring to see how far away everything else is. Turns out that Piccadilly circus and all the awesomeness that lies in that area was a handy 45ish minute walk so yay for saving money on tube tickets :D Strolled around Piccadilly for a bit and tried to suss out tickets for Les Mis but sadly it’s sold out the whole time I’m here so grabbed some food and a shady spot in Hyde Park for a picnic dinner and headed back to the hostel for an early night.
Woke up nice and early in the morning and joined the other early risers for a jog around Hyde Park which if you ask me is pretty much the best way to see it. After breakfast headed to Kensington to indulge my inner (and outer) geek at the Doctor Who experience. Flew the TARDIS, escaped a Dalek battle, dodged the Weeping Angels and helped rescue the Doctor from the Pandorica (well the Pandorica 2, they had a spare) and then investigated the collection of costumes, props, sets and monsters from the whole history of the show. Totally cool (yes, I said cool), though I really do need to start travelling with small children so I don’t get such weird looks for being at these things on my own. Oh and massive shout out to one of the other guys on the tour who turned up wearing a fez. Cos fezzes are cool.
From there headed back through Hyde Park and along Oxford St before finally reaching the British museum and spending a few hours goggling at the many, many, many, many, many fascinating articles from around the world. Sure puts the Egyptian room in the Adelaide museum to shame (not that that’s hard to do). Then strolled through Soho to the National Portrait gallery which along with all the Victorian, Tudor and modern portraits for me to explore had a special collection of Gilbert and Sullivan pictures and a temporary exhibition of 70 portraits of Hollywood Stars from 1920-1960 including Vivien Leigh, Grace Kelly, Cary Grant and a great shot of Alfred Hitchcock directing the MGM lion. I swear sometimes it seems like London is doing these things just to make me happy.
Having given up on snagging any last minute tickets for Les Mis, got a ticket for the 39 steps at the Criterion theatre. Really clever and very funny, it’s based on a Hitchcock movie and they manage to get a reference to just about every other one of his movies in there somewhere, plus of course the obligatory cameo by Alfred himself. It has a cast of 4 and between them they play all the characters, one person sometimes playing up to 3 different people in the one scene. Highly recommend it if you ever get the chance.
Planned to have a light walking day the next day to rest my poor blisters but having early on failed utterly to find a single cinema screening Harry Potter that wasn’t sold out for the day, I gave up on that idea and instead dedicated my morning to revisiting Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square and strolling along Victoria Embankment until I’d tracked down the memorials to both Sir Arthur Sullivan and W. S. Gilbert.  Walked along the Thames past Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament and up through Lambeth to the Imperial War Museum. Spent pretty much the whole afternoon there as the exhibits covered both world wars (including interactive walk throughs of trench warfare, children in the war and the Blitz), conflicts since then, the secret service and a chilling exhibition on the Holocaust that was particularly well done. One final stroll through Piccadilly before a picnic dinner in Green Park enjoying the view of the Victoria Memorial and then headed back to the hostel to once again repack my bags for the early morning trip to Gatwick airport.
with the TARDIS & 11th Doctor

evolution of the Daleks
in the TARDIS
British Museum
Wellington Arch
just missed the changing of thhe guard but caught these guys on their way back

Gilbert's memorial

No comments:

Post a Comment