London: Aimless Wandering
I arrived at London’s Heathrow airport a little after noon today. My Fitbit told me that I got one hour, 29 minutes of sleep on the flight over. I don’t thoroughly trust its sleep-tracking accuracy. I could have sworn that my almost seven-hour flight to London took less than two hours.
Nevertheless, I was exhausted when I arrived at my hotel. That wasn’t until about 2:30 p.m. after taking advantage of passing through a train station to make reservations for train travel later in my trip.
Disappointment struck when I checked into my hotel. I hoped there’d be an invitation from the Queen waiting for me. Alas, no. It didn’t have to be dinner at the palace. Tea and scones in the garden would have been fine. But, no. Nothing.
She’s been Queen of Canada my entire long life. It’s not like I come to London often. This is only my second time. The first time was around four decades ago. And she hardly ever gets to Canada. You’d think if I come all the way across the pond she’d reach out to me to snatch this rare opportunity to get together. But, no. She’s too high and mighty to socialize with the hoi polloi, I guess. But, never mind that. I’ll get over it. Eventually.
Taking my life on my feet in London
Attempting to take in a major London attraction while under the influence of intense exhaustion would be a waste. So, I didn’t. Instead I undertook a few hours of my favourite travel activity, wandering aimlessly.
One thing I noticed during my walk is that, at most crosswalks, London courteously painted signs on the pavement telling me which way to look if I want to avoid being mowed down by oncoming traffic.
Pondering it further, I realize they probably didn’t paint the warnings just for me. They might have had other people in mind too. After all, it’s not like the Queen gives a one whit about about me, now does she?
Those on-pavement notices were very helpful because, except on one-way streets, everyone here drives on the wrong side of the road. Everyone. Damned fools! They’re going to kill someone. Mark my words. That someone would probably be me were it not for the signs telling me which way to look if I don’t want to be run over. For the record, I don’t want to be run over.
London, a river runs through it
The Thames River is a couple of blocks from my hotel. It’s a big river that runs through the middle of London. You can’t miss it. Unless, obviously, you’re not in London or anywhere else by the Thames. In that case, you can’t help but miss it. But you probably knew all that.
I took the picture to the right at the closest point on the Thames to my hotel. (Well, ok, for any sticklers out there, I know what you’re about to say. Yes; yes. It’s not on the Thames River. It’s beside it. But you knew that, didn’t you? Stop nitpicking. I haven’t got the time or patience for that.)
You undoubtable recognize the building in the picture across the river as the Palace of Westminster, the seat of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The Westminster Parliament is the model for Canada’s and some other countries’ parliaments. It’s nice to be able to blame the British for some of our parliament’s failings. It’s not our fault. It’s theirs.
That smaller tower on the right side of the building covered by scaffolding is the world famous Big Ben. I think it’s obscured by scaffolding because the Queen heard I was coming and she, out of spite, didn’t want me to see it. I could be wrong about that. I’m not sure.
During the renovations of Big Ben, there is still one clock face visible on the other side, as a later photo shows.
More pictures taken along the Thames follow immediately.
Covent Garden Markets
My ambling also took me to Covent Garden Markets. It’s a lively market consisting of a few glass-covered lanes lined with shops and restaurants.
One of the aisles sported overhead signs designating it as “Apple Market.” Don’t ask me why. I didn’t see a single apple for sale there. Nor did they sell anything from the Beatles music library. Nor did they sell Macs, iPhones, iPads, or iWatches. For the most part, the shops in the Apple Market aisle sold arts and crafts.
Here are some pictures of the market.
During my wandering I also unexpectedly came upon Trafalgar Square. Well, in truth, you’re right in what you’re likely thinking. It wasn’t unexpected once I got within a few blocks of Trafalgar Square. It’s tall Nelson’s Column is visible from blocks away. But you’re being a stickler again. Please stop it.
Wait. What’s that across the square? Is that a Canadian flag desperate trying to catch the breeze so it can unfurl itself proudly? Why, yes. Yes it is. A walk across the square showed even more Canadian flags lower on the building. Well, I’ll be. It’s Canada House! (Forgive me for focusing on that. You know what they say. You can take the old man out of Canada, but you can’t take Canada out of the old man. Or something to that effect. I’m not really up on what people say.)
Also forgive the poor quality of the muddy photo. It’s hard to believe I’ve won awards for my photography, isn’t it? The reason it’s hard to believe is I haven’t. Any member of any non-human species with opposable thumbs could, the first time out, probably take better pictures than I can. I likely could beat a species without opposable thumbs six times out of ten, but only because they would tend to fumble the camera somewhat more than I do.
Whatever. Here are some more pictures in and around Trafalgar Square.
No stickler, I’m a fan through and through of whoever’s writing this blog. JMK, you rule! That’s a turn of phrase that recognizes outstanding talent. There you are, out standing in one of the great cities of the world. And opposing your thumbs, walking aimlessly, feeling let down by your monarch, and crossing time zones, pond, and the river that runs through said city. Walk on. Look right.