Sunday, October 18, 2009

Hampstead Heath

I had wanted to go to Kew Gardens today but there were massive issues with the Underground today, so I revised my plan and went to this park called Hampstead Heath in North London. The scenery along the walk from the Tube station to the park was how I pictured London and England to look: windy streets, tall gates, lots of shrubs and brick. Very pretty.

The park itself is massive and the view of the city from Parliament Hill was wonderful! It was a nice fall, day, too. Perfect for a bit of a walk. I stumbled upon an area in the park called Kenwood which really felt like an English wood! Very dark and mysterious, which made it hard to take pictures.

Tate Modern

Apparently this is London's most popular attraction for tourists and it's a great collection of modern art. If you're into that sort of thing, it's a great place to go. Since I am (mostly), I was quite impressed by a few things.

Getting there was a massive pain in my ass, though, as the signs that pointed the way were extremely unhelpful, which made me laugh a bit.

Some pieces impressed me and one room actually made me blush as it had wall sized pictures of some artist and his porn star wife having sex. And then there was a clay sculpture of them having sex in the middle of the room with a glass table-sized sculpture of them having sex towards the front. Now why these things would make ME blush, I have no idea, but I found them pretty funny. I also realized that if Andy Warhol were alive today, I most likely would want to punch him in the face and hopefully break his glasses.

Chelsea Physic Garden

This place was amazing. It's London's oldest Botanical Garden and was founded in 1673. It's a small little area behind a high brick wall very close to the Thames, and if I hadn't known what I was looking for, I most likely would've walked by without noticing it. Apparently, most Londoners have no idea that it exists, which is a shame.

At first, I wasn't too impressed as it looks very small but it's quite quaint and by the time I knew it, I had spent 2.5 hours here listening to the audio tour while walking around and marveling at the insane amount of plant species. My favorite part of the day was watching a huge bumblebee look for pollen in a strange blue flower.

It's funny, the birds here either sound terrifying and scary (the seagulls) or have beautiful songs (many of the birds in the Garden). There were a few little ponds and the one in the picture is one of the first to greet you in the middle of the Garden.

Hyde Park

The day I went to Hyde Park could've gone a lot worse as my original plans were messed up, but considering the way it turned out, I'm way more than happy.

Hyde Park is gorgeous and gives Regent's Park a run for its money. While Regents is very regal and ornate and looks like what you'd expect out of an English Garden, Hyde Park is a bit more wild but still very sculpted. I've also noticed here that everyone seems to hate the pigeons, but I love them! They're cute and they make me smile. A lot of 'em are even pretty as I've seen ones that looked like marble, ones with green in their feathers, and some purple and brown ones.

Also, the seagulls here don't so much as squawk as scream like people at each other. It's a bit scary.

Westminster and Trafalgar Square

Walked around a bit of Central London and finally gave the building of Parliament a decent amount of time instead of trying to snap pictures of it while walking. This picture was taken on a bridge (I have not yet developed the ability to fly, sadly) behind the building and there was a guy with bagpipes! Awesome!

I also got to Trafalgar Square to see the National Gallery and its collection is massive. Most of it is old art, though. Very Christian and very classic. There were a few really great pieces by Van Gogh, Renoir and Monet, too!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Thames Path and London Bridge

See that? That's London Bridge. Yup, that shitty ass boring bridge is London Bridge. I walked along the Thames Path a bit and wanted to cross this thing... eh just so I could have bragging rights. I did! It was anticlimactic.

I do love the Thames, though. The area around it is amazing. I'm in love with this city and all it has to offer and I'm a bit sad that I have to leave REALLY soon, but I'm getting more and more excited for the rest of this adventure.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Tower of London

Got to see the infamous Tower of London today and had a HILARIOUS yeoman tour guide / beefeater. The Brits and their terms confuse me, but my god this man was hysterical. Very Eddie Izzard-esque.

Lots of history there, obviously, and this picture is of Traitor's Gate. Lots of ominous history there, actually... but that's kind of how most of London is, it seems!

Saw the Crown Jewels. Quite sparkly. Seems kinda silly to have these insanely valuable diamonds locked in glass boxes for decades only to be used to reign in a new Sovereign. Crazy Brits and your monarchy!!

Walked back along the Tower Bridge, which is gorgeous and is NOT London Bridge itself, actually.

The City and Along the Thames

Met a really nice guy named Matthew and he gave me a great tour throughout the oldest part of the city. I'm not sure what the name of the area is called, but it's what most tourists would call "London," as Westminster Abbey's there, Parliament, Big Ben and other impressive attractions. He's quite the history buff and he knew a lot of really interesting things! It was great.

We also walked along the River Thames that runs through the city and grabbed chicken at Nando's. Mmm mashed sweet potatoes..

This city's absolutely ridiculous and I love it here. I definitely wouldn't mind coming back here to live for a few years.

Buckingham Palace

God damn this place was opulent.

Apparently the State rooms are only open while the queen is on Holiday during August and September in Scotland, so that's what we got to see! The palace is filled to the brim with stuff. Stuff's just everywhere. And most of it has some sort of gold on it in some form or another. There were also lots of paintings places but they were all just stately things. Nothing interesting to me 'cause it was all pre-Impressionism, but it's all there for a reason!

I suppose the Queen seems pretty cool. Not that I've met her or anything, but from what I've seen in some of the videos they had showing and from some of the humanitarian work she's done, she seems to be a good monarch. Good for her.