[Date: 15 December, 2008]
Back to my tryst with London! Now before reading further, please know that this travelogue is more for me as a record of my travel than for the general public as a tour-guide of London. So if you see me gushing over silly things – well, that’s ‘coz they are the things that I’d like to be reminded of when I read these posts in, say, 10 years (by which time I think WordPress will cease to be a free-service!). If you have wandered here looking for information on London, I would suggest you check on some travel sites ‘coz this blog here is about Me, Me and Other Me.
Right, so I’ve been here a week now and the open-mouthed wonderous moments still happen. Last night it happened when I saw this house decorated for Christmas, with the fairy lights and tree and a huge Santa Claus. The other European city that I’ve been to during Christmas season was Rome and I definitely felt more cheer in the air there than I feel here. I don’t know why!
Sunday saw us at the Tower Hill tube station, getting ready to start the tour of the big places, ie. Tower bridge, London bridge and London Eye. It was freezing, as usual but the excitement at finally seeing all the monuments one hears about was a huge help in overcoming the cold. We had a light snack of Fish n Chips (‘coz I wanted traditional English stuff!) and an almond croissant (heaven, to say the least) and set sail on a ferry that would take us on a cruise on the Thames. All the window seats on the ferry inside were taken, so we did the next best stupid thing – go to the roof, the open air seating area. The fact that the seats were made of metal and were wet didn’t help much with my already frozen backside. But the human body can do wonders if the mind really wants it to. So there we were, on the ferry, taking in the sites and clicking the occasional photos. There was one point during the cruise were one could see all 3 structures – London Eye, Big Ben and the Parliament House-Westminster Abbey – in the same frame – stupendous beyond reasonable levels!
We got off at the London Eye pier and got tickets for the 30 min ride on the giant ferris wheel. There was also an offer going on where we could get tickets for Madame Tussaud’s at a discounted price if we bought them along with the tickets to the Eye – the tickets were valid for a month and we could visit Tussaud’s anytime. Wonderful – one stone, two mangoes types! Apparently, such offers are usually available for most sight-seeing places and is a good save on time and money.
The London Eye. Hmm, where do I begin! We did this first before seeing anything else in London, so it became like a preview for the rest of London. And guess what? We were there by around 5pm, so lucky us, our way up the wheel was a daytime view of the city and by the time we reached the top and began the descent, night had fallen and we got a night view of the city! Who would’ve thunk!! A teensy weensy tip to keep in mind. The view from the wheel was mind-blowing as expected. At one point, we had a distant view of a triangular shaped object and we actually thought that was the Eiffel Tower. We still don’t know what it was. Yeah well, like it matters.
Once the trip on the wheel got over, we wandered around the area and it was like some carnival going on. Lots of shops selling trinkets, souvenirs and most importantly, food! Dutch mini-pancakes (with Nutella!!), pretzels, mulled wine, lots of German stuff (read pork, beef, etc. so we didn’t look that side much) and candies of all shapes, sizes and colors. A small note of caution: most often than not, candies don’t taste as good as they look, so watch out. Safer bet would be to pick up chocolate colored ones and stay away from yellows and whites (well, my experience – both the colors tasted like crap).
Since it’s winter now, its fully dark by around 6pm and gets terribly cold. So we trundled to the nearest Tube station (I forget which) and took our train back home (yep, home it was!). We had dinner at this little Srilankan place called Hopper Hut and it was amazing – tapioca, chicken, fish, ridge-gourd curry, cashew-peas curry – divine for a palate that hadn’t had much of Asian food the last few days. I know it’s sounds weird when I say I came all this way to London and I still ate Indian food, but you know what? Once in a while, one does get sick and tired of croissants, donuts and muffins. And pancakes, toast and eggs. Really, nothing like good ol’ rice and curd with a good pickle on the side.
Home was warm and cozy and I realized how the phrase ‘warmth of home and hearth’ came into being – no big deal in Souht India perhaps since most times home is cooler than outside, but here? Oh here, home is warm and homey!
And the moment I took off my shoes, I realized my feet were numb from the cold (this, inspite of woolen socks and a good robust pair of Reeboks). And as the numbness starting going off, the pains started! Now would be a good time to mention that I’m not much of a walking person in India, so all the walking here took its toll looks like. But hey, the good news? One gets used to it and learns to ignore the pain and keep walkin!
Next post, Paris!