In 2012, after my 8-week trip around the U.S.A with my best mate, I flew to Norway to visit some close family friends who lived there. I flew from New York City to London, then London to Stavanger. The only thing is, my first flight landed in London at about 7.30am, and my flight to Stavanger didn’t leave until 9.30pm. Luckily, my wonderful friends Michelle and Martin (the daughter and her now-husband of the close family friend) lived and studied in Oxford, England, and happily agreed to meet up with me and show me around London for the day.
The Quickest Way to See A City
To say I was exhausted was an understatement. I hadn’t slept in over 30 hours since leaving NYC, and had to stay awake until I landed in Norway later that night. Michelle and Martin took me to Notting Hill to find some breakfast (and a much needed coffee). I loved Notting Hill, it was so green and pretty, and so perfectly English. I have to admit I was a bit delirious at this stage, especially pre-coffee, but I loved it nonetheless. Also, I saw my first red phone booth and got so excited. Oh, London.
Now, I’ve never been one to praise the tacky tourist buses, but if you’re trying to see an entire city in half a day, they will be your saving grace. Especially when you’re stepping off a red-eye flight from New York City with no sleep! It was actually a really great way to see all the sights with ease, and it was a hop-on, hop-off bus, so we were able to get off and take the obligatory tourist shots at Big Ben and the London Eye. We drove over the London Bridge, past Westminster Abbey, and eventually found ourselves getting off at Buckingham Palace after about two solid hours of playing happy tourists on the big, red double-decker bus. I’m not exactly a huge fan of the Royal Family (except Prince George, but he wasn’t born yet), but it was still a pretty monumental landmark to me.
Sadly, Queen Lizzy wasn’t home. She rudely decided to spend the weekend at her summer house in Scotland. Either that, or someone forgot to inform her of my arrival. Those guards are good for nothing, except perhaps trying to heckle into moving or speaking. Despite this, I didn’t let something as simple as Her Royal Majesty the Queen not being home ruin my day, so I pretended she was there and gave her my best Royal wave. She waved back, of course.
Lunch at The Hard Rock Cafe London
After sightseeing, we went to the Hard Rock Cafe London for lunch, which was the first Hard Rock Cafe ever built. I thought that was pretty cool. I was running on fumes by this stage so the meal tasted even more delicious than I probably thought. After our late lunch, we went for a wander through Hyde Park before heading back to the airport so I could catch my flight to Norway.
I did end up going back to London on that trip. My flight back to Australia flew out of Heathrow, so I decided to stay with a friend from uni, Tess, for the weekend before I went home. It was a reasonably quiet weekend, and with Tess unfortunately at work most of the time, I kept myself busy with shopping on Oxford Street (Primark is amazing, cheap and perfect when you’re at the end of your trip and have no money left), eating cheap Subway and going out for drinks in Clapham Junction with Tess and her mates after they finished work. I have to say I lived up to that classic Aussie stereotype that the rest of the world seems to hold about Foster Lager, and that was all I drank in London. It was the cheapest one, okay? When you’ve been away for three months and you didn’t budget your trip properly, drinking Fosters is a great idea.
London – you were a brief affair, but an enjoyable one. I hope to spend more time in your city soon, but for now my memories of the big, red double-decker bus and all the wonderful sights I saw in just 12 hours will have to do.