Bruce the Wandering Whale in London

Let me preface this episode by stating that this stop on the whirlwind tour of Europe was primarily at my daughter’s request – I had no real want/need to go back to London, having lived there some thirty years ago. That said, I did enjoy seeing the places I spent most of my time back then.

The immigration queues were as bad (if not worse) than I remember. Back then, this poor Kiwi boy, travelling on a Kiwi passport could only join one of three queues: UK Passport Holders, EEC Passport Holders and Others. This meant that I was always the last one back on the bus, since everyone I travelled with seemed to have either a UK passport or a Patriality stamp.

So, the queue system has slightly improved. There are now only two: UK/EU Passports and Others. No guesses as to which was the longest queue. And unsurprisingly, the bulk of those in the Others queue were obviously from the Middle East. It took us about 45 minutes from joining the queue to getting through.

We caught the Tube from Heathrow into Paddington and checked in (to what is, so far, our worst hotel choice yet). By this time it was around 5pm – and we had lost an hour coming from Amsterdam. We were pretty knackered, having partied until quite late in Utrecht the night before – my niece graduated with her PhD from Utrecht. So we both had a wee snooze for a couple of hours. Then realised that we should start sightseeing and also get some dinner. We walked down through Kensington Gardens and through Kensington itself (tripping over a couple of obviously-Muslim beggars), then down to Buckingham Palace

PHOTO-Supplied Whaleoil

PHOTO-Supplied Whaleoil

 

PHOTO-supplied Whaleoil

PHOTO-supplied Whaleoil

and then along The Mall to Trafalgar Square

PHOTO Supplied-Whaleoil Trafalgar Square

PHOTO Supplied-Whaleoil Trafalgar Square

Finally found a place that had a table or two spare and went and had some tucker and refreshments

PHOTO supplied -Whaleoil

PHOTO supplied -Whaleoil

Caught the tube back from Charing Cross – we’d done enough walking that night!

The following day, my daughter was catching up with a friend for the late morning/early afternoon, so I made myself useful by going down to Victoria and picking up the theatre tickets we had ordered. I then went out to West Kensington to inspect my old stomping grounds. The flat was exactly the same and so was the pub…

PHOTO-supplied Whaleoil

PHOTO-supplied Whaleoil

I then transited across town to Blackfriars to see if the pub I had worked at in Whitefriars Street was still there. It was – but renamed and not open on a Saturday (!!!!????). This pub used to be called “The Coach and Horses” and was frequented by printers from The Sun, which was just across the road.

PHOTO-Supplied Whaleoil

PHOTO-Supplied Whaleoil

Wandered down Fleet Street and got a few pics in..

Looking back towards St Pauls

PHOTO-supplied -Whaleoil

PHOTO-supplied -Whaleoil

A narrow pub

PHOTO-supplied Whaleoil

PHOTO-supplied Whaleoil

A lovely half-timbered building

PHOTO supplied Whaleoil

PHOTO supplied Whaleoil

The only building in Fleet Street to survive the Great Fire (official plaque and a long shot)

PHOTO-supplied Whaleoil

PHOTO-supplied Whaleoil

PHOTO-supplied Whaleoil

PHOTO-supplied Whaleoil

 

Another cool pub

PHOTO supplied Whaleoil

PHOTO supplied Whaleoil

The Courts building

PHOTO supplied Whaleoil

PHOTO supplied Whaleoil

The Savoy Hotel (technically on The Strand, rather than Fleet Street)

PHOTO supplied Whaleoil

PHOTO supplied Whaleoil

 

Back down to Victoria for the show: Wicked. And it was awesome!

Last day in London, my daughter again had another friend to see (and shopping to do – of course!), so I had a lazy breakfast at a Paddington French Bakery (the breakfast at the hotel was disgusting) and agreed to meet up at Tottenham Court Road Tube Station at 11:30 to do some final sightseeing.

At 12:15, she finally showed up. It’s easy for a newbie to get lost in London – even when accompanied by a local (another Kiwi)…

Got the Tube down to Waterloo and had a look at the London Eye – didn’t have a ride, unfortunately, as we were starting to get a little short on time (it rotates very slowly) and the queues were long.

Walked across Westminster Bridge and Bruce got a pic in front of Big Ben (he is sitting on top of an anti-terrorist bollard).

Bruce and Big Ben PHOTO supplied Whaleoil

Bruce and Big Ben PHOTO supplied Whaleoil

 

Then up Whitehall past Downing Street

PHOTO-supplied Whaleoil

PHOTO-supplied Whaleoil

and the Horseguards

PHOTO supplied Whaleoil

PHOTO supplied Whaleoil

to New Zealand House in Haymarket

Bruce outside New Zealand house in London PHOTO supplied

Bruce outside New Zealand house in London PHOTO supplied

Next stop Cardiff – by train from Paddington…

 


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