One country down, two more to go! Two hours separate me from my first footsteps in the United Kingdom – London, England. I was finally going to capture a pose with the infamous red telephone booths, cross the River Thames, find the “real London Bridge”, and many other things that I’ve been seeing from my friends on Facebook over the past five years…!
One country down, two more to go! Two hours separate me from my first footsteps in the United Kingdom - London, England. I was finally going to capture a pose with the classic red telephone booths, cross the River Thames, find the "real London Bridge", and many other things that I've been seeing from my friends on Facebook over the past five years...!
[Charing] Cross the Tea, Dot the Eye
One of the first challenges arriving in London was figuring out the train system. Landing in Gatwick, there were different rail systems that transport people from the airport to the city. Either we could take the standard "tube" (London Underground), or quickly get to town through the Gatwick Express. We opted for the latter, and "quickly" was quite the understatement. I was expecting a train to run as fast as an Amtrak or the Indiana State Fair train (a whopping 30 miles per hour). Boy... was I wrong! I had to remember that I was in Europe, where rail infrastructure is stronger than in the US. 40 minutes [and a train connection] later, we arrived at the Charing Cross station. Stepping off the train, I could see the London Eye. I had made it!
After a short walk down on The Strand to my hotel, I dropped my bags and hunted on Yelp for something to eat. I was stuck between the classic fish and chips, or something more traditional. I thought to myself "heck, Microsoft serves us fish and chips every week..." and decided to go a traditional British pub. Looking at a menu, a lot of entrees were unique to me. Disclaimer: I'm neither a foodie nor a picky eater, so I my culinary repertoire was still being improved. Curried chickpeas? Rabbit leg? Old Spot pork and clams?
Then my eye caught something that was sounded great and grotesque at the same time... pig cheek. Well... I love bacon on everything, so I could only assume that pig cheek would taste similar. No, I didn't take any pictures of the entree because I was so hungry, but rest assured, I made a good choice. To me, pig cheek tasted just like slow-cooker pork - tender and flavorful. I ate like the locals, however even though this is a traditional British entree, The Daily Mail writes assuming that many UK-citizens haven't even tried it!
A Night on the Riverbank
With a lack of sleep and energy exploring Iceland from the past couple of days, my circadian rhythm needed a quick adjustment. Upon returning to my hotel, I threw all of my bags on the floor and crashed onto the compact twin bed. I passed out for a good several hours before being able to get up on my feet again. With my camera in hand, my mother and I set foot to explore the surrounding area.
My mother and I headed down The Strand, passed Trafalgar Square, and headed along Whitehall before cutting through an alley for a direct view of the Thames and London Eye. The dark gray skies provided a nice contrast with the bright red wheel and glowing blue building.
We then followed the Thames east to the Hungerford Bridge and Golden Jubilee Bridges. The structure of the bridge was the first greeting we had received in London upon arriving at Charing Cross earlier that day. We followed the pedestrian path for the brilliant view of both the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament.
At this point, the rain started to fall. It would take too much effort to try to keep my lens dry and prevent the droplets from ruining photos. I stowed my camera and continued to walk along the other side of the riverbank, enjoying the sights and experience. Tomorrow's a new day, and I'm excited to explore London and all that it has to offer during the daytime...