• Day29

    Marnee the Explorer

    June 29, 2016 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    I made sure to have an alarm set, I wasn't going to sleep in on my last day!
    I'd drawn up a rough plan of what I wanted to see throughout the day, so I got up and showered, and headed on my way.
    Roadblock number one - it was a little rainy... Only spitting here and there, so no issue, I continued on my way.
    My first destination was Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. I jumped on the tube and headed to Queensway Station. My plan was to explore Kensington Gardens, find the Princess Di Memorial Fountain and Kensington Palace, and then walk through Hyde Park.
    Well, that seemed like a great plan, but as good as the signs are in the Tube, they were NOT good in the Kensington Gardens. I found the Princess Diana Memorial Playground instantly, but you’re not allowed to go in unless you’re supervising children, and I guess in my rain jacket with a hood on, it may have looked a little suss had I tried to go in... Nevermind, there was a cute little Merry Go Round nearby so I had a look at that, and then headed in search of the fountain.
    The signs seemed to point every which way, so I would be following a sign, then find another pointing in a completely different direction. I got a bit lost, and the rain got a bit heavier, but I continued along anyway. I stumbled across the Albert Memorial, which is a huge gold statue, with many statues around it, and is directly across the road from the Royal Albert Hall. I’m sure many people have played there, but I always think of the live video of Someone Like Me by Adele, which was performed there.
    Eventually, after walking along the edge of the gardens, I found another sign, which said the Memorial Fountain was actually across the road, sort of a part of Hyde Park. It was a little underwhelming, as there were some barricades covering some of the fountain. I took a couple of snaps and headed off.
    I walked along a lake back into Kensington Gardens, with some more swans following me like they did at Lake Bled. I saw a few more different birds, saw some people walking their dogs, found some more statues scattered throughout the gardens, and then crossed back as I realised I’d completed missed Kensington Palace.
    I passed another lake, rain coming and going, and once I found the ‘palace’, I was again a little underwhelmed... I guess I’d imagined something grand, but it just looked like a bricked mansion. Still nice, and certainly bigger than any home I’ll ever be able to afford, but not overly fancy. I didn’t go inside, instead walking through the rose gardens out the front.
    I’d spent a good 2 hours exploring, so whilst I hadn’t really ventured much of Hyde Park, I thought it was time to tick some other places off my list.
    I found a little cafe near the tube station for a quick bite to eat, and then jumped on the train to Tottenham Court Road Station, for a squiz around the infamous Oxford Street. I also thought, seeing as I hadn’t done anywhere near as much shopping as anticipated, that I would check out Victoria’s Secret. Well, this was another disappointment. In the US, you can normally buy 5 pairs of undies for $25-30USD. At this VS it was about £30 for 2 or 3 pair... No thanks!
    Disappointed, I walked out and decided to cheer myself up by heading to Abercrombie and Finch. There’s normally a model out the front and I thought that would be sure to lift my spirits...
    I found the store (I nearly walked past it, it was quite conspicuous), and there was NO model in sight... I later found out they don’t do that anymore, not in London at least...
    Next Stop: Abbey Road! I jumped on the tube to St John’s Wood station, which was about a block away. I arrived and it wasn’t quite as busy as I’d imagined it would be. There rain had cleared for a little bit, so I did the obligatory walk across the road. I took some pictures of Abbey Road Studios, and had a look in the gift shop, then walked back out, walking across the road again, taking selfies as I didn’t have anyone to take the photo for me, and am not very trusting of strangers with my phone!
    My next destination was recommended by a co-worker who lived in London for a short time, Primrose Hill. It didn’t look too far away on the maps, so I decided to walk it. I think it probably took about half an hour by the time I got to the park, and another 5 minute trek up to the top of the hill. By this point the rain had started again, so the view wasn’t completely clear, but it was still a gorgeous sight. You can see all of London, the Eye, the Shard, all the wonderful buildings. I imagine it would be stunning on a warm and sunny day...
    There wasn’t really anywhere to sit as everything was wet, so I didn’t hang around for too long before making my decent, and found my way to Swiss Cottage Station.
    Next up: 10 Downing Street. I knew with all the Brexit news, and resigning of David Cameron, there would be plenty of security around, but what I didn’t realise, is that you can’t actually walk into Downing Street at all, it’s completely blocked off. I should have guessed, you never see anyone walking past when they show the townhouse on the news... So I could barely catch a squiz at all...
    I back tracked and took a couple more photos of the London Eye and Big Ben, and then jumped back on the tube to St Paul’s Station.
    I thought maybe after all the disappointment, I could bring it back to basics, and all the churches and cathedral’s I’d been to throughout the trip had been breathtaking.
    I walked around the outside and it was HUGE! I made it to the front steps with the intention of heading inside, but guess what, another roadblock! They were about to have a service inside, so they weren’t letting anyone in who wasn’t attending the service. I sat on the steps feeling a little defeated, but then it occurred to me to just pretend I was going in for the service... A little sneaky and deceitful (sorry God!), but I was so glad I did, as St Paul’s did not disappoint. I didn’t take any photos inside - Ididn’t want to be disrespectful - but just took a quick look around before heading back out.
    My last stop on my eventful day was back near the Phoenix Theatre where I’d seen Guys and Dolls the night before. Michelle had told me to check out a little shop/gallery around the back of the theatre that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was playing at. From what I gather, it isn’t related to the show at all, but was opened by some artists that worked on the film franchise. Called the House of Minalima, it was full of Harry Potter references and artwork. It was really cool. There were about four levels, so I had a good look around them all, even stopping on one level to have a bit of a chat to a young girl that worked there. She asked about my travels, and once I told her about Contiki, she was so keen to go on an adventure of her own. I hope she does, she’d barely left London before!
    It was around 5pm by this stage, so I headed back to my hotel and got changed, as I was off to meet Michelle for my last night in London!
    We planned to meet at Brixton station at 6.30pm, so I could check out Michelle’s hood! Once I found her at the station exit, we headed off to a pop up venue with food and drinks, which was much like the pop up food truck parks back in Melbourne, but they were all in containers rather than trucks. We had a couple of drinks there, before walking to a cool BBQ restaurant called Brixton Blues Kitchen. It was like an old US blues club, great music, dark lighting, and great food! I even got to try a new Jim Beam variety – Jim Beam Maple! (Months later, I found out it was actually an OLD Jim Beam variety, and you can get it at Dan Murphy’s... But the point is, it was delicious, and complimented the chicken pieces I was eating perfectly!)
    After dinner, Michelle walked me back to Brixton Station, via a mural of David Bowie, which still had an abundance of floral tributes to the musical genius in front of it. It was a little moving, but so nice that Bowie’s home town wasn’t showing any signs of forgetting the legend that was.
    I said my last goodbye for the trip, and jumped on the train to head back to the hotel.
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