Hello from London! I have managed to score some free wifi for about two hours in The Photographer's Gallery (a five floor gallery with a cafe on bottom) so I figured I would sit and rest the feet, enjoy a bottle of Bulmers, and jot down a quick post. More posts about the weekend are definitely on the way once I have the photos up to accompany them.
Resting the feet was a much needed. Its pretty much been non stop walking since nine-thirty this morning and I've covered a lot of ground from the London Tower on the east side of the city to out past Regent's Park on the west side.
I've only been in the city for about 36 hours, and am nothing of an expert on city travel (for ANY city), but here are some general notes on the experience so far.
1. As much as my feet are killing me right now, a self-guided walking tour is SO much better than a paid-for bus tour. A bus might allow you to cover more ground and provide someone with factual information about the city to share with you (rather than me making random guesses about buildings and statues to myself as I walk) but it deprives you of a more colorful experience. If I had rode around on a bus, I wouldn't have encountered the bassoon/trumpet duet v. rastafarian-electric-guitarist jam-off under a bridge. I wouldn't have been able to walk through the Borough Market with all of it's amazing foods and have my smoked steak and potato cake with goat's cheese. Or walk through clouds of scent of roasted carmelized peanuts and onions (which smells SOOO good).
2. On that note, the Tube in London is pretty expensive. Rather than a flat fare you pay by the distance, and with minimal tube traveling I have already gone through about twenty pounds in a day and a half. So, if traveling in London, enjoy the extra minutes of fresh air you would sacrifice on the Subway, and try to walk to as many places as you can.
3. London just might beat out any city/town in Ireland I have been to so far with its pub per square mile ratio. I had no idea.
4. The Borough Market. If you are ever in London on a Wednesday through Saturday, you have to go to the Borough Market, and just know that the sights and smells of all types of food will tempt you to spend every pound in your pocket.
5. Avoid the street handouts. Admittedly, this likely isn't news to anyone and is just a lesson for me but I really thought the robed religious individual handing out a peace and love offering and asking me to sign his book was a safe bet. Turns out that message of peace and love was conditional upon a charitable payment to an organization, and he became quite upset that my signature was now in his book with no donation to accompany it. (Hang onto it buddy, maybe it'll be worth something one day :D)
6. London was some wild architecture. Like seriously wild. The kind of architecture where you look at a building and think "I'm not quite sure that should be standing..." There are some brave souls working in this city who have offices on top floors.
7. Semi-Pro tip -- a good app for all travel is maps.me. Free to download and use. When connected to wifi, you can download maps to your phone that are then made accessible at any time without data or internet usage. You can save destinations too, marked as "favorites", which makes it a little easier to plan out your route of travel for the day.
8. East London is definitely worth walking through. It is a world mecca for street art, and there is an incredible history to go with it. A more in depth blog on that to follow.
Time is just about up so that's it for now. Pictures are coming soon!