My second day in London commenced at 4.25am when my brain decided that four hours of sleep was more than enough. At 5.30am, I gave up on trying to sleep and started reading. At 5.40am, I got hungry but the kitchen was down four flights of stairs, so I ate a packet of gummi fruit salad and got sugar all over the bedclothes (whoops). At 6am, I tried to sleep again and failed monumentally. At 7.30am, I started to play a fun game called "At what time will my brother and all his housemates be gone so that I can wander around in my pyjamas like a zombie?".
I eventually dragged myself out of bed at about 8.30am, and did all kinds of fun things like adding huge wings to my eyeliner and twelve layers of mascara to make myself feel more awake. I also phoned the hotel where my parents were to stay that night (they were due to arrive in London at 5.30am, but their plane was delayed by fourteen hours) to say that they'd be late, and the guy on reception could not have been less interested if I'd tried to explain the Australian taxation system to him.
I finally left the house at about 11am and headed in the general direction of my brother's office, as we were meeting for lunch. I got there horribly early, so wandered across London Bridge to see this through the haze:
I wandered a little further, and stumbled across The Monument to the Great Fire of London, which was rather unexpected, then headed back across London Bridge to meet C at Borough Market. After perusing all the lunch options on offer, I settled for fresh spinach and ricotta ravioli with napoli sauce, and we sat in the grounds of Southwark Cathedral to eat. Because, you know, it's totally no big deal eating lunch in the grounds of a church that's been around four times longer than your country!
After we'd finished our pasta, I decided that seeing as how brownies are kind of my thing and C had been rambling since I arrived about how good the brownies were at this one store next to the market that I should check it out. Which is how I came to order a salted caramel and vanilla fudge brownie ("The Fudgepacker Brownie", which made C laugh hysterically) from Konditor and Cook. And holy Jeebus, it was amazing. Ugly, especially after being squashed in a paper bag, but utterly delicious:
After lunch, I'd been planning on going down to Greenwich but I decided that Greenwich probably warranted more time than I had left that day, so instead I walked back across London Bridge and down the river to the Tower of London. I thought that it would be a pretty quick visit, given that I'd been there several times as a kid. But I ended up spending all afternoon there. The World War I memorial installation is absolutely breathtaking, especially when you consider that what's currently in place is only about half the poppies that will ultimately be installed. Every night at sunset, a bugler (not a burglar) plays The Last Post, and approximately one hundred names are read out. I didn't get a chance to see it, but I imagine it's pretty special. The poppies alone are staggering.
I arrived with a little time to spare before the next guided tour, which meant I was lucky enough to see an American woman looking at the "Next tour leaves at" clock, and asking the other members of her party if time worked the same way in the UK as it does in America, a question I'm still giving a confused dog head tilt about. Luckily, the other members of her group seemed equally confused (I wonder if it's the fact that it was an analogue clock and she was used to digital??) and quickly explained to her that yes, clocks work the same way in England.
The tour was interesting, although sadly we didn't get to go into the chapel, which was closed for repairs that day. But I *did* get to see a teenage girl being made to delete the photos she took of the Crown Jewels from her phone, so that was fun.
I took a much needed hot chocolate break in the cafe, and seriously considered taking a nap on the table because I'd hit a fairly dramatic patch of oh-God-I-woke-up-at-4am-and-need-to-sleep-immediately. Luckily, it wore off after a while and I was able to drag myself up again and head into the exhibits in the White Tower. And I'm glad I did, because they were pretty damned fabulous. There was the stuff I remembered - namely, the armour of various kings throughout history - but there was also some fascinating newer stuff about the Tower's role as a mint, as a centre for training soldiers over the centuries, and as an armoury. It included this rather spectacular dragon made out of all sorts of weapons from a bunch of different time periods:
I left the White Tower just in time to see Tower Bridge being opened to let a ship pass through, which was excellent timing because apparently that now only happens once or twice a week. Well done, Kirsti. Good job.
By the time I'd finished at the Tower, it was 5pm, so I texted C to ask when he was going to be done with work. He said he'd be another half hour or so, so I decided that I'd walk back to his office across Tower Bridge and down the other side of the river. If I'd had more time, I would have gone to the Tower Bridge Museum, but unfortunately there was only time to walk across the bridge, stopping for a couple of photos along the way, because obviously:
|Zombie Kirsti is a zombie. And may also be sunburnt.|
Except that we needn't have eaten quite so fast, because they got there approximately forty five minutes later than we'd anticipated. Womp womp. Still, once they arrived we made it to the Hotel-of-the-Disinterested-Reception-Staff with no problems, dumped all the luggage, and headed out to the pub for a much needed drink. Then C headed for home because he had to work and was catching a much later flight the following day, and I got to spend the night on a surprisingly comfortable camp stretcher.
Next up, I continue to try and fit more than one day into a post (and I will probably continue to fail), but more importantly, we head to Portugal!