London day 1

Steps: 20,671

Arrived safe and sound in London.

Naturally took the Underground from Heathrow to our hotel. Having American credit cards is pretty annoying. Sometimes I wonder if cash would be more convenient, in light of the lack of chip + pin.

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Love taking new systems! And got to add the Oyster card to my collection.

Our hotel is…quaint. It looks completely regular from the outside, but on the inside the layout just doesn’t make sense. Also the water tastes funny and the temperature fluctuates. Though Cromwell Rd, which it faces, is incredibly loud, the windows have great soundproofing so the room itself is quiet.

But it’s in Kensington, which is a pretty neighborhood.

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And only a block away from the Victoria and Albert museum. Key selling point for me.

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It was late so I only got to dash in for a little bit before closing. Got to see their fashion exhibit, which was really interesting and well done, and the exhibit of Raphael cartoons. Also fascinating. I hadn’t realized just how interesting fashion can be when placed into its historical context and how impressive full scale designs for tapestries are.

We had dinner at the hotel restaurant, because it was actually reasonably priced (for London), and we were overwhelmed with choice (or underwhelmed, given the touristiness of this area).

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The food was meh. There was nothing wrong with it, although I suspect that the Australian tendency towards under-seasoning (at least in the Red Centre) follows British tradition.

We took a post-prandial stroll up Gloucester Rd and happened upon Kensington Gardens. They were extensive and quiet and pretty and filled with joggers. The jogging [excuse me, running] mania appears not to be limited to the US.

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The Albert Memorial, which gets more interesting the more you look at it. The frieze at the base of the memorial is filled with historical figures of note, and I felt uneducated and uncultured, not bring able to recognize most of them.

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The sense of foreign-ness is surprisingly strong. From example, I don’t recognize common waterfowl anymore. So there were swans and mallards by the river but that black duck with the white head? It’s gotten so bad that I find it strange when signs and newspapers are in English and I can therefore read them.

On the way back to the hotel, we dropped by a Tesco Express for some beer and digestive biscuits (the necessities of life). It was super happening, guess everybody needs those necessities by definition.

Also, I’ve seen more Italian sports cars and luxury sedans here in one evening than I usually see in a year. BMWs are as commonplace as Toyotas, I think.

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2 Responses to London day 1

  1. Kristin Chan says:

    I’ve seen that black duck with the white head before in Florida but never in Illinois or Seattle. Not sure what that says about its living habits.

    I think even with the English signs, the deep sense of historical relevance is part of the alienation. It’s hard to find something even somewhat close to that in the US.

    • Clara says:

      Yes, even the street signs are totally weird. They’re usually on buildings, weirdly far from intersections, and half the time typeset in blackletter script. I’ll take some pictures for you.

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