WARNING: This is going to be long! It’s as much to record the whole thing for myself as it is for everyone else to read so I’m going to include lots of detail that may or may not be interesting to you all. So read the parts you want, skim the rest, just look at the pictures, whatever. I don’t mind. Just don’t think I’m putting this up here just to torture you all with a long winded recount of my trip. There won’t be a test afterwards... :p (Pictures will come later as there is an error in the system currently - you can always go to http://picasaweb.google.com/a1120631/Contiki
In the week after uni ended most people had gone home, so I was leading a pretty solitary life for a few days. The most human contact I had for a while came in the form of the shop assistants at the supermarket and the man selling me Euros at the post office! I had no idea who, if anyone, was still in my building until the night of the 16th when I happened to run into two of my downstairs flatmates (the aforementioned James and Don – see guys you get two mentions now!) During the week I had a fleeting thought of knocking on their door in case someone was there, but then didn’t do it! Oh well.
That night I went out with them, bonding over our mutual isolation in a deserted Leeds. So I guess I have to thank them that the following day, the 17th when I had to catch my coach to London, I was so tired I slept all the way and drive wasn’t as boring as normal.
That night I went to Trafalgar Square to look at the fountains, which weren’t on last time I was in London, and the Christmas tree.
I was also chatted up by an old French guy, who I politely declined to spend more time with, and headed back towards my hostel with a detour to Oxford Street along the way. All the shops were closing up since it was night, but I couldn't afford to shop there anyway! Then I went back to the hostel and I think I was asleep by 9pm!
The next day was my museum day, as I didn’t have the time to go to any last time I was in London. My hostel was across the road from the British Museum, so I went there first. I spent quite a few hours there and didn’t even see everything. There are great collections of Egyptian, Middle Eastern and Ancient Greek and Roman sculptures, art and artefacts, including the Rosetta stone. Took me back to my first year Classics courses... and I couldn’t remember much at all from them... anyway... At precisely 12 noon, purely by chance, I happened to come across the clock room, so was able to get the full effect of their chiming. They weren’t all completely synchronised so it wasn’t all at once, which is probably a blessing.
Then I had lunch and headed to the Victoria & Albert museum. This houses a lot of art, sculpture and design stuff. I didn’t even see half of this museum, as time was running away from me. I did see some great sculptures, fashion and an interactive light/sound art piece. They had some reconstructions of Leonardo DaVinci’s inventions on display too, like the wings and the parachute. They had DaVinci exhibition somewhere in the building, but by the time I got to that and spent some time being confused about whether I needed a ticket or not, and where you could actually get one from it was too late in the day. If I have any regrets, its that I didn’t get to see that.
In my last hour or so before things closed and I had to get to my Contiki pre-departure meeting, I did a speed tour of the Natural History Museum, which is next door to the V&A.
I managed to get in the dinosaur exhibition and one about human biology. It was all interesting and I wish I could have spent more time there. Oh well, just means I’ll have to come back to London sometime. What a pity.
Then I had my Contiki pre-departure meeting. This was a bit of a waste of time anyway, since they only really told us stuff I already knew and then people checked in with their passports and contiki documents – but since I was running late I didn’t have these with me so I just had to do it in the morning.
Then I went back to my hostel planning to go on the internet, have dinner and go to bed early since I had to be up and at the Contiki bus by 6.45am the next morning. While I was in the lounge on the internet I met an Aussie guy and a South African guy and ended up watching ‘The Shining’ with them. Weird movie. Then we went to get some kebabs for dinner together. When we got back to the hostel we watched the end of ‘Moulin Rouge’ in the lounge with other hostel guests. And though I had planned an early night, I was up until 1am talking to the South African guy, Michael. It’s funny how quickly you can connect with random people you meet when you’re travelling. And sad that you do connect with these people and then have to move on again so soon.
Well that’s part one... and I haven’t even left London yet! Told you it was going to be long! Stay tuned...