Saturday, April 17, 2010

London part 3 of 6

Friday - The One With TOO MUCH WALKING"
Friday morning after breakfast Lars wanted to try out the high speed trains going out of London, so Henni and I walked him to Euston station before taking off on our own. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, so I wanted to see London from the top of Monument.

I hadn't stopped to think how it would look to others that I was intending to climb Monument while carrying a crutch, and can't really blame the guy selling tickets for asking me if I'd be okay ;) I assured him that the crutch was more a symbol than anything else, and up we went! Those of you who've been to Denmark and visited the Round Tower - imagine the top stair case, only 10 times as long! I didn't count, but the guidebook said that there were 311 steps to the top, and I believe that number. My legs were shaking beneath me when I got to the top, but the view definitely made it worth it!

The funniest part was when we were getting ready to head down again. We had to wait for a family to pass. The father was huffing and puffing, looked at me, looked at my crutch, "You did that on a gummy foot?!" Hehe. Well, yeah! If I didn't I'd never get to see anything that required proper walking.

From Monument we walked along the Themes to Tower Bridge, passing Tower on the way. I haven't seen either in ages, but it does look impressive in a weather as gorgeous as this.

(I think it was around here that we actually took off our jackets and walked around in short sleeves! For the first time in at least 6 months! :D )

The Tower Bridge exhibition had a lot of information about how the bridge was designed and built, how it had changed through the years (not much, except for the paint job in honour of the Queen's something-anniversary), special events that took place on and around the bridge (i.e. a bus that didn't stop in time and therefore had to jump the gap as the bridge started opening!) and other major bridges around the world. It was actually surprisingly fascinating! We skipped the engine room though - neither of us had any real interest in that.

Once on the South side of the Themes we started walking West, as we'd read about a local market down between London Bridge and Borough station. If you ever go to London, I can highly recommend Borough Market! It was absolutely the highlight of the entire trip! It's a shame I haven't gotten Henni's photos yet, because I didn't think to take any myself. Very quaint and atmospheric, it seems very much like a local market and not one specifically aimed at tourists. Although that may have changed in recent years, as it was apparently used in the filming of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban ;) It was slit up into three parts - they had names, but I don't remember them, so I'll just refer to them as the food market, the produce market and the spice market :)

Coming from London Bridge as we did, we hit the food market first, which was very convenient, as we were quite hungry by this time, and definitely ready for lunch. The food market had stalls offering dishes from all over the world, and smelled fantastic! I'm sad I only had room for one lunch! It also seemed like this was where business people from the neighbourhood came to get lunch, as we saw a number of people in suits - again leading me to think it's not first and foremost a tourist attraction.

The produce market mostly had butchers and stalls with fruits and vegetables, so we didn't spend too much time in that section, and made our way over to the spice market instead. Here they had stall after stall with different spices, different oils, different varieties of tea, olives etc. I don't know if I'm glad or sad I didn't actually live close by, because I could have gone absolutely crazy there! As it was I limited myself to a bottle of chili-garlic olive oil, but would have loved some of the different olives as well. Yum :) Henni and I both agreed that we definitely want to come back there sometime.

We took the train back to Central London and went to find a Swarovski store, as Henni needed a new battery for her watch. My legs were absolutely killing me by this time, so while she was getting that done, I went to the nearest Starbucks and found us a table where we could get a cuppa and sit and relax for an hour or so. While there Lars sent me a text message saying that he'd been contacted by the police (happens occasionally - in Denmark as well - they tend to want to know why he's taking photos of trains ;) ). As per usual all was fine once he explained that he was a trainspotter, and the female police officer almost felt sorry for him when she heard that his wife was shopping in London ;)

At 5:30pm Henni and I caught the train back to Kings Cross station as we were picking up Katie at 6pm. She lives up north of London, and had arranged to come down for the evening so we could have dinner together. I think it's been two years since we saw each other last, so we had a brilliant time catching up. We'd found a very cozy-looking Italian restaurant close to the station, so we wouldn't have to worry about getting her back in time, and fortunately the food turned out to be excellent, so we've added that to our mental list for another time.

After dinner we still had about an hour before Katie's train left, but apparently King's Cross is far away from the very center of London to be dead in the evenings, because though there was both a Starbucks and a Pret a Manger just across the street, they both closed at 9pm! Ah well, giving up atmosphere for some extra time to talk, we found a Starbuck inside St. Pancras Station and sat chatting away there until it was time for Katie to go. As always we had a lovely time together, so I'm really, really glad she had time to come down and see me! :)

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