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Good Ol' London Town

London, United Kingdom

After a bit of a delay leaving Marco Polo airport, we finally arrived at London Gatwick. The immigration man wasn't particularly impressed with our description of where we were staying in London as just "my brother's place", but we'd thrown out the piece of paper with all of our addresses on it.....However, on the up side there was no-one at the airport when we arrived (about 10.30pm) so we flew through customs and this time our luggage was actually on the carousel!

It was SO nice being met by someone and not having to carry our luggage and figure out maps etc. Mikey drove us to his lovely flat in Wimbledon Park (yes, Jane has been looking out for wombles - no luck yet).

We had decided to come to London a bit early, partly because of travel fatigue, partly because of severely reduced funds.

No rest for the wicked though, as coming early meant that Mikey wanted to take us to see a little bit of England for the weekend. Ironically Jane has seen more of England than Mikey - after a month in the UK in 1999.

For our England "mini break" We all headed off to Bath, with the aim of Mike's new Tom Tom, where we saw the fabulous Abbey and amazing roman baths. We toured the Cotswald villages and went to Blenheim Palace (home of the drunken looking Duke of Malborough). They are so picturesque! We then headed back to London town (oh god how to people here cope with the traffic). Jane insisted on playing English folk music in the car - good old Steeleye Span!

Mike then took us on a whirlwind "London in two days" tour, including Fortnum and Mason (for Jane to get excited about), Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square, Picadilly Circus, Covent Garden, Buckingham Palace, St James' Park, Houses of Parliament, St Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben ("Look kids Big Ben" was mentioned a lot for all of you European Vacation movie fans), the Tate Modern, the Sloane Museum, the Tower of London and the London Eye. Don't worry - some of these things were literally just walking past them, but this was not a tour for the faint-hearted - Mister Mike is a hard taskmaster!

We also went to the theatre and saw a great comedy called Boeing Boeing. We had a few drinks in the pub afterwards and the whole cast was there, which was great. Mikey put his fantastic accents to work, as one of the characters was a crazy German woman so they both did accents together which was very funny - he was born to be on the stage!

Wednesday was a well-deserved rest day, hence all of the blogging! Kristian cooked a fab roast chicken!

We caught up with Jane's step brother Steve on Monday night for a fantastic dinner in a converted warehouse in East London, complete with an interesting movie installation downstairs. So much fun and lots of great cocktails -thanks Steve!

Last day we did Camden Town, which was great. Kristian found some great tops (finally actually bought something!!) We had a great night at Mike's local with some of his mates for our final night AND J&K beat a couple of guys in pool who thought they were really good! HA!

We can't thank Mike enough for his generosity. If it wasn't for his sponsorship, we wouldn't have been able to stay in the UK for a whole week!

HIGHLIGHTS: Staying with Mike and catching up with Steve, England "mini break", the Autumn leaves in the countryside, Roast beef in Burford, strolling around London, the London eye (such great views particularly of the Houses of Parliament), going to the theatre, history of England (ie Bath, Blenheim).

LOWLIGHTS: Prices, not enough time.

INTERESTING FACTS: London is bloody expensive! Thank god for Hotel de Mikey!

USELESS INFORMATION: We love the names in England. Some of the Cotswald villages included Bourton on the Water, Burford, Stow on the Wold, Moreton on the Marsh - you get the picture. My favourite is Upper Slaugther and Lower Slaughter. Even better was Wapping - pronounced Whopping and Tooting Broadway!

Both J&K were thrilled to have a cooked English breakfast! We missed it!

permalink written by  JaneandKristian on October 17, 2007 from London, United Kingdom
from the travel blog: Jane and Kristian's honeymoon
tagged London and England

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London, United Kingdom

I arrived in London a bloody mess,departing from San Francisco, a lay over in Frankfurt only to landing at the London City Airport 16 hours later. I hadn't slept in a day or so. The airport was tiny but I knew that outside of the airport was a gigantic city that I knew just one person in. I was visiting my friend, Stacey Harrison, whom I had been roommates with in Kathmandu earlier this year. Being the amazing person that she is, she showed me as much of England as she could in two days, meaning London and where she lived, Surrey. The first day she treated me to a pasty in a popular square in London where street performers often gather to share their traits with passerby's hoping to make a few pounds.
Venturing about the city of London I couldn't help but feel the charm that grew from every cobble ally or the taxi that would pass. We visited Buckingham Palace which lacked the men in red suits, huge bummer. I for one, was stunned to see parliament. This may be a fact that most people wouldn't admit, but seeing it in front of me made me remember when I used to watch the men in wigs argue with one another, too bad they were all on holiday. Exhausted from walking around the city all day we hopped the Tube, were I deliberately made eye contact with every Brit to make them feel uncomfortable as they would read their newspapers.
The next day we went to a neighboring city where we drank very tasty juice, even though that has nothing to do with England, the juice was amazing. We carried on to a small castle over looking the city and rolling green hills that made me fall in love with England.
Making our way back to town, we were headed for the pubs. Stacey said it was crucial that I visit a 'proper pub' while in England which ended up being more than just 'a' pub. We ended the night with a few drinks while watching the football game, England vs. Croatia. I think during this match, I also became a fan of football or may it has to be a combination of Stella and football, I am not sure but am most definitely willing to test my theory as much as needed.
Saying good bye to Stacey early on Thursday morning, I boarded the train to the Gatwick airport, I wasn't too fond of the lay out and lack of signs, but people were helpful. Waiting only 20 minutes, I was anxious to arrive in Doha, Qatar and munch on Arabic pastries.

permalink written by  Katie on September 13, 2008 from London, United Kingdom
from the travel blog: WEST to EAST.
tagged England

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London, United Kingdom

It was a dark and stormy day: I had arrived in London. It turned out that before I was to travel to Wales, I needed to stay in London for the Arcadia orientation. The first couple of days were fairly regimented; meetings, lectures, and a tour or two, but by Wednesday we were pretty much on our own.

The most interesting meeting occurred on Tuesday. That afternoon three members of the British Parliament (Labour party, Conservative party, and Liberal Democrat party were all represented) came to answer any questions we had for them! I asked about the surveillance in the UK. On the plane ride up I had read an article about an eight year old girl caught on surveillance hiding a pair of her friend's shoes. On account of cameras in the classroom, the girl was given a yellow slip (after three of those she would be suspended). The mother of the girl whose shoes were hidden was pleased, and the mother of the girl who was punished was outraged. She said she had liked the idea of the cameras to begin with, but she felt that using them for the purposes of punishing a little girl's prank was extreme, and she no longer felt they were a good idea. After reading "Little Brother" on account of Tommy's recommendation (http://craphound.com/littlebrother/download/ :It talks about how surveillance is eroding our rights to privacy) I agree with the outraged mother.

All of the parliament members felt uncomfortable with so many cameras, and the steadily increasing numbers of cameras, but they said that until there was a "more normal" way to keep track of crime, cameras were part of governmental systems. The Labour Party representative mentioned that people ask for more cameras in the streets, so I wonder how equivalent people's sense of security in having cameras is compared to the actual security cameras offer.

On Wednesday evening we were given tickets to go see Queen's rock opera musical: "We Will Rock You" which was fantastic. The costuming and music were amazing, and more than made up for the contrived plotline.

Thursday was a free day. After mentioning the graffiti artist Banksy to one of the Arcadia Representatives, she let me borrow her Banksy tour of London book (!) so I spent the day going on my own graffiti tour of London!

I spent a long time thinking about the reading Emily picked out for my Paideia group last semester about graffiti, and the aesthetic of control. It seemed, especially after the discussion about surveillance, more and more silly that graffiti is taboo, and in addition to being aware of graffiti on the walls, I was more aware of blank white or beige walls, and how boring that can be!

Most of Banksy's work was destroyed, painted over, or completely missing. :(

It was really fun to look for his graffiti though; I went to parts of London I never would have seen otherwise, and I found it really interesting that while some people had stolen his work to sell it on ebay, some people made an effort to paint around it. Other graffiti artists tagged on or near his work (like the puzzle piece on the rat's sign). The book I was using was written by a graffiti fan who just notices the world around him.

permalink written by  outlawedwings on January 23, 2009 from London, United Kingdom
from the travel blog: triple_strung_heart
tagged London, England, Graffiti, Banksy, Paint, Rat, Arcadia, StudyAbroad and Surveillance

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Piccadilly Circus

London, United Kingdom

Right around the corner from our hostel was the Piccadilly Circus in London. Basically this huge spot for tourists and locals alike that comes alive at night.

There are street performers, neon signs and pubs just off of it. The atmosphere is contagious. The whole place is abuzz, every night of the week. There is music playing, dancing and laughter on every corner of the square.

It's a very fun place to hang out at. I was there one night waiting for my Romanian friend Darius (of no relation to the other Romanians we later encountered in Paris), and throughly enjoyed just sitting by the fountain and watching the crowds.

It was kind of a serene moment, as it was my last night in London. I jotted a few words down in my journal that evening, and just as I was finishing, Darius appeared ready to lead me onto the next adventure.

I definitely recommend hanging out around Piccadilly. It's a great place to do nothing at and still have fun.

permalink written by  ectoombs on September 13, 2011 from London, United Kingdom
from the travel blog: Eurotravels 2011
tagged England

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