I was supposed to go to Brighton today, but despite going to bed at 9 last night, I overslept my morning alarm. I’ve been a bit sick since those cold, cold boat trips, and my body demanded some rest. So what did I do instead? Stay inside all day and rest up…
Haha, yeah right! The sun was out, the weather was brisk and beautiful, and I could barely stay home long enough to wait for the cafeteria to open at 11am. All this time I’ve been in London, I haven’t given it a proper touristy visit, so today I laced up my walking shoes, grabbed my guidebook and hit the town.
The route: Hyde Park, Green Park, Buckingham Palace, Victoria Embankment, Westminster Bridge, Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Parliament Square, Whitehall Street, Downing Street, Horse Guards Parade, St. James’s Park, Trafalgar Square.
All told, I walked and cycled around for five hours (which included standing around, reading up on background in my guidebook, writing postcards, etc). That’s for only one tiny neighborhood in this grand city, and I didn’t even go inside any of the museums / historic sites I passed by along the way! When am I ever going to see it all?!
Getting around: One of the best things in London is the cycle hire. Dubbed “Boris bikes” after London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, the program allows you to rent a bike at any of the docking stations across the city, ride it around to your heart’s content, and drop it off at a docking station when you’re done. Having caught the Velib bug in Paris, I bought a year-long membership for 45 pounds. The trick is, if you return the bike within half an hour, you don’t have to pay any access charges. You can then take out another bike for a half hour, and so on. This “tip” is actually part of the marketing scheme, and I think it’s brilliant. Since receiving my access key in the mail on Tuesday, I’ve already used the bikes four times! I’m even thinking that if I can find quieter roads from home to school, I can save a pretty penny on the tube.
NYC is supposed to get a bike share program soon, and I’m wondering whether it’ll be as effective as it has been here and in Paris. Drivers here are very aware of cyclists and yield to them readily, so I’ve mostly felt very safe biking along the streets. I heard a car honk today, for the first time since I arrived in London! NYC is another story, though. I’ve seen quite a few near-collisions between reckless drivers and seasoned bikers on the city’s busy streets. NYC needs something of a culture change for the bike share to be effective… or safe.
Photos: I downloaded an app to try to make my camera phone photos a little more interesting, since I have to make do until G and V bring over my new camera when they come to visit in a month. (The price is the same in pounds and dollars, but the exchange rate makes it considerably more expensive here.)
I took a normal photo of the London Eye, above, and thought, Yick! that water sure looks gross. Black and white was the way to go.
Snapshots and captions below: