Thursday, March 12, 2009

First FULL day in London!

Today was my first day of exploring London. Yesterday I ended up spending the entire day inside sleeping and waiting for my luggage-which didnt arrive until 10pm. It was quite frusterating. Did go out for a drink at a local neighborhood pub and see the end of a football match though!

I explored a bunch of neighborhoods in central London. I spent the morning on my own, road the tube to Oxford Circus and roamed about until meeting up with Maria at lunch. The Undeground system is unbelievable simple to navigte, which is great for me and my challenged directional skills. I actually had a lady ask me how to put money on her Oyster Card (tube card), even though it was my first time doing it as well!

Quick run down on some of the places I saw today: Maria and I took a quick run around the SOHO neighborhood, which is where her architectual firm is located. Lots of cute shops, many dodgy ones as well. After lunch I went around on my own for a bit in China town and saw part of the National Portrait Gallery (all of the museums are free). After that I met up with Maria's housemate, Daniel, a native Brit. Together we went and saw Big Ben, Westminster Abby, Downing Street (where the primeminister works) and Trafalgar Square. After that we crossed the Thames (which I embarassingly found out is pronounced "Tems"), and saw the Eye of London (ferris wheel), along with a quick stop in the Tate Modern (modern art museum) and a walk over the Millenium Bridge with a view of St Paul's cathedral.

Whew! I saw a lot today, but it was mostly just a quick overview. I didn't stop in to any of the famous buildings, just got to see their outsides. I now feel more comfortable getting around in London. I found that many famous sites are quite close in cenral London.

Some things that struck me about the Brits- 1) everyone looks very grim and wears a lot of black. 2) there is an air of formality and pride that everyone seems to have which is exaggerated by their accents. 3) people are not very warm, and you do not talk with strangers. However, as Daniel explained to me, Brits are very polite and will warm up to you once you get to know them. I still miss the midwest with its bubbly outgoing friendliness!

I've found many funny signs, such as yield signs which say "Give Way", intersections marked "Look Left/Right" which is helpful for their backwards driving, and a construction sign that said "rubble ahead."

I must say I do appreciate their coffee here! All of the good coffee here is made by French Press, so I am absolutely adoring that aspect. Daniel took me to a historic coffee shop and then we stopped by the cutest neighborhood (Neal's Yard in Covent Gardens-see picture) where I passed by a celebrity, Greg Kinnear(see picture), whom some of you may know as the boyfriend in "Baby Momma" or "You've Got Mail" or the dad in "Little Miss Sunshine."

Well, my legs are telling me that was way too much fun for one day. And if you're still reading you probably think the same! Until tomorrow!


Deb said...

Wow! Was Mr. Kinnear working or just hanging out incognito?

It sounds like you're having a great time! Tell Maria "hello" from us.

Kaitlyn Cooper said...

He was just walking by with another person. I took a doulbe-take, so I'm fairly certain it was him. What confirmed it for me, was that he was in the British newspaper later that afternoon.