I’ve just flown my longest (and belated) haul to date, which included going over some beautiful Omani mountains so that was a plus, and I’m very much wrecked. Yes it was a Qantas flight, and they have some nice cordial on offer, but I’m sorely in need of a flat bed to sleep on. However, everything is okay because I am in London. Finally!
Landing at Heathrow, I digest some Panamax, navigate the Express to Paddington and see my first double decker drive past me on a packed, night covered city street that reminds me of Melbourne. I’m already liking it.
Too bad though that the ‘backpacker hostel’ I was booked into was nothing more than a cramped room of dusty bunk beds with a hair filled bathtub on the side – it didn’t take me long to find an actual hostel to stay at on my return stint eight-ish weeks later… and I don’t think it was head hair either.
But that’s the worst out of the way.
London is a city that I’ve long wanted to see for myself – pop culture is to blame – and I have three days to get some damage done. I will have two extra days at the end of my travels, The Dorito Tour, but one will be spent in Stonehenge and the other might likely revolve about me being lazy – I don’t know yet, so these first three days are when I’m going to kill my legs.
I think it’ll be worth it.
I have a long list which includes all the tourist staples and a few spots you might find unexpected, but it works for me and that’s that. First off though, and before the sun’s up I will add, it’s a dark London street walk to Primrose Hill.
Scenes of Tuppence Middleton, Doona Bae and Jamie Clayton in Sense8 are to blame for this first stop – a Facebook movement will understand perfectly.
I’m standing atop the easily climbed hill in The Regent’s Park, its cold as ****, engraved William Blake quotes are sparking my interest – ‘I have conversed with the spiritual sun. I saw him on Primrose Hill.’ – and I’ve gotten there in time to see the city’s skyline light up with the dawn.
The skyscrapers appear one after the other (I never realised how many there were, but then again, I am from Straya!) and the yellow morning light is truly amazing – it’s this sunrise that convinces me that my travels will be worth it.
By this point I’m a little naive but there’s time for that later.
The three days that follow are a mix of all city corners and massive eyesores, so I discover a deep appreciation for the Tube and its many entrances. Within those three days I knocked off many landmarks and experiences, thanks in huge regard to the first Free Walking Tour I did with Sandemans New Europe and I highly recommend their London experience – group leader Andy was the funniest historian I’ve ever met.
This post might be thousands of words long if I went into every detail, so I’m going to be cheap and list the places I went to and a few quick words… if I have any.
- Buckingham Palace – meh.
- Trafalgar Square – I do like the Lord Nelson story that goes with it.
- Big Ben – kinda small but still good.
- The Tower of London – don’t forget to print off your Viator ticket in advance.
- The Serpentine – I am holding out for Gaiman’s Seven Sisters.
- The London Eye – the view is totally worth!
- The Dungeon – TOTALLY ****ING WORTH IT!!!
- Jack the Ripper walking tour – showed me that London after dark doesn’t intimidate me.
- The Harry Potter shop, Platform 9 3/4 – for Ravenclaw reasons.
- The British Museum – they have nice cake.
These were big stops for me and I’m grateful for having seen them in their fullest – yeah Buckingham doesn’t sing to me like the others – but to me, there were some smaller and very unexpected stops that had me feeling more satisfied.
One of them included a quick trip to Brixton, the end of the Underground, where right across the road from the Tube entrance was the beautiful memorial to David Bowie.
Now I must admit, I’ve only ever had Starman and Space Oddity playing in my head and I’ve seen bits and piece of Labyrinth, but I’m one of those who likes to travel on behalf of others… sometimes.
This wasn’t long after the man’s passing in 2016 and the flowers were many and fresh. I could still see the loss on the faces of the others around me and it was no secret that this was a man who was deeply loved and admired. The faces of loss were no doubt happening back home in Melbourne – so many I knew were Facebooking their sadness – so I decided to make a stop in Brixton for them.
I think I was there, in Brixton, for about an hour but in all honesty, it’s one stop I keep thinking back to the most.
Moving on from the memorial, and taking a stroll through Electric Avenue which in all honesty I loved (and where I found Royal Gala Apples!!!), I Tubed it back into the city centre and took everything in as I found it.
Seriously, I small square of park benches and flowers or a line up of archways were doing it for me – London, you’re something kind of special m’thinks.
Another stop worthy of mention, and I feel I have to write this under familiar obligation, is Baker Street. I walked on over here on my final day, after eight-ish weeks of being on the move, so I was effectively giving laziness the finger.
Now there is a Beatle souvenir shop on site and Pottermore says that my patronus is a Blackbird (I do like that song) but my surname is neither Starr, McCartney, Lennon nor Harrison… so that’s not why I’m making my stop.
So why the hell am I on Baker Street?
Oh, you figured it out! Good. For those who don’t know, my surname happens to be the given name of one famed English detective who knows how to get the job done… and poison Gladstone in the same plot line (that poor dog).
Now this may disappoint my dear brother but I didn’t attempt to get in for free. I mean I had my passport on me and my whole name’s printed on it… but I just couldn’t be stuffed. We’re gonna save it for when Guy Ritchie concludes his cinematic trilogy instead.
If I haven’t made it oh so clear yet, London is a city that I can easily appreciate – it’s the first western cultured city I’ve visited outside of Australia – and much like my beloved Melbourne just walking through it is enough to satisfy… as well as the squirrels which were frickin dear kiddies!
Am I wanting to make another pilgrimage, you better believe it, and I’ve long thought about making a move at some point in my future – apparently it’s an Aussie right of passage.
Keep reading, I’ve got plenty more to share in the future. The Sheep is here to stay!