I woke up today to the fire alarm going off in my hostel. It was nothing, but it still forced me up which was nice, seeing as with my jet lag, I could’ve slept all day, not to mention the difficulty of actually sleeping though the night with 17 other people in your room.
Like I decided yesterday, I wanted to just get on a tourist bus and simply let it take me all over London, to see things generally, and also think about what I wanted to see particularly. So I started on the red line of the Original London Tour bus and it essentially took me all over the City of Westminster and the City of London (the equivalent to boroughs in New York). I had already seen most of Westminster by foot yesterday, but it was nice to actually learn some history and facts about the places I had visited in the early morning.
But I hadn’t been in the “City of London” yet. It’s a cool place, as the vibe is just so uniquely London or British, by which I mean it’s everything you would think of when you hear those words. I rode along Fleet Street, saw St. Paul’s Cathedral where Princess Diana and Prince Charles were married, I saw a recreation of Shakespeare’s Globe in the place it most likely stood, I drove across London Bridge (fortunately it didn’t fall, despite being rebuilt many times) and Tower Bridge, probably the highlight of my day.There’s something about that bridge that I just love, so much of the day was spent trying to get a better picture of it. Throughout the early parts of the day, it was raining so I was limited to being under the covered section of the bus, looking through dripping windows, which aren’t the best conditions for photography.
After I finished the red line, I was determined to get on a tour bus that had a live tour guide, instead of an automated one, which wasn’t terrible by any means, but I just wanted that interaction. I managed to get onto the yellow line, which was almost exactly the same sights as the red line. Although it may seem like a bit of waste of time, it was nice to see the things again and hear what a local had to say. And, I also got to sit at the very front of the upper deck of the bus, so it was more than worth it in my opinion.
I saw the same sights again and when we got to the Victoria Embankment stop, I decided to get off to use my final tour of the day: a cruise down the Thames. We went under the Waterloo Bridge to the Blackfriars Bridge to London Bridge. Then I went to the upper deck (as it was getting a bit cold for me) to see the Tower Bridge one last time. I got the picture that I wanted and I felt like an accomplished tourist.
The boat stopped near the Tower of London, and I got off to walk around and get a closer view of the Tower. I figured I had forty minutes until the return journey to the Victoria Embankment, so I wandered around, went into the Tower of London gift shop, bought some fish and chips, decided I disliked fish and chips, and then got back onto the boat to go back.
I was going to call it a day and get on the tube to get back to my hostel, but I thought that seeing Parliament Square merited a ten minute walk. Westminster Abbey was closed for its Sunday service, but I still walked around the grounds and took some pictures.
As I’m writing this from my bed, tired from the jet lag which I believe will be present throughout this month-long journey, I’m feeling less overwhelmed. The idea of being a tourist has a stigma of sorts attached to it, right?—that in some way doing the things I did today are so “typical” it’s boring. But there’s nothing wrong with that, being typical. It’s what I had planned to do yesterday for today, and it turned out to be exactly what I needed, someone or something directing me through all of this. I had to be a tourist to get my bearings and become less overwhelmed by the magnitude of this trip.
Tomorrow, I’m thinking about visiting the National Gallery, the British Museum, St. Paul’s and Tate Modern, so a museum day, essentially. If the weather’s nice, and I get a good amount of sleep so as to wake up early, I want to chill in Hyde Park. Hopefully, it turns out to be as lovely as today.