Fri Jul 20 2007: London

Woke up at 11AM to the sound of thunder and rain hitting the window of our hotel room window. We'd slept for over 11 hours! It did stop raining before we met up with my parents a couple of hours later. They wanted to take us for a walking tour around London. We had booked around the Kensington area because it was close to where my cousin is going to be married on Saturday. It also used to be the place where my parents and I used to live in for a couple of years after I was born.

Before these condos were put up, there used to be a hospital here. That's where I was born!

In the last 30 or so years, the Kensington area has gotten to be quite the posh neighbourhood. Oh, by the way, ever since arriving here, I've been trying to use British slang like, "Smashing!" and "Brilliant" and taken to calling women, "Luv" and men, "Mates". It's not working too well...

We hopped on a double decker bus to take us to Picadilly Circus. I read somewhere that London was the most
heavily CCTV-monitored area in the world. Even the buses have cameras on-board!

Had lunch at a sushi bar that my uncle recommended in the area. London is expensive! And not just the sushi. Although the exchange rate is $2.13 CDN for every 1, stuff here costs the same in as it does $ back home. A meal that would normally run you $40 will cost you 40 here!

All aboard the sushi train!

We then walked over to the Waterstone's, the bookstore where they were hosting the Harry Potter book release. It's basically Ground Zero for all of Harry Potterdom today. People from all over the world had lined up around the block for days in the pouring rain, dressed in Hogwart costumes. Neda was delighted! We were going to come back at midnight to pick up the book, but that never happened as she's sleeping right now as I'm typing this...

This is the front of the line at Waterstone's.

This girl was interviewed by several TV stations and every tourist wanted to take a picture with her. Except us, of course. In fact, she begged us to take a photo with Neda, so we obliged...

Later on they said thousands of people were outside the store by midnight
Then a walk down to Leicester Square, Charing Cross station and then stood in line to get up to what used to be called the Millennium Wheel. They've smartly changed the name to the London Eye as I doubt tourists in the year 2094 would like to step aboard a structure called the "Built-This-Thing-In-1999" Wheel. I wanted to do this the last time I was in England, but didn't have the time, and I was glad we got to go up this time around, the view is spectacular and the weather really co-operated as you can see from the pictures.

London County hall is behind the London Eye

View from the top of the London Eye

London County Hall had a Dali exhibit and also a Star Wars exhibit. What an unusual combination!

"I'm all ears!"

We walked through to Westminster Palace, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, and then decided to Tube it back to Kensington for dinner. Remember when I said I'd picked up some Brit Slang? "Tube it", is London-speak for "taking the subway", so named because the subway cars and the tunnels they travel in are actually round in profile, and not a box like in North America. What they fail to mention in the moniker is that the Tube is actually a filthy, hot, crowded and sweaty space, especially during rush hour in the middle of the summer. I propose they rename The Tube to The Armpit. That should deter more tourists from taking the subway, thus making it a less crowded place.

Big Ben

Buckingham Palace
We heard on the news later on that evening that there were floodings in many parts of the UK because of the heavy rains that have fallen over the last week. Crossing my fingers that the weather will be kind to us when we leave London in a couple of days.

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