(back home now)
Actually the ball may only drop once a day, not sure. Lucky enough either way. Apparently all the ships used to watch it from the Thames and adjust their clocks before setting sail. Those who missed it were referred to as “not on the ball” hence the cliche. I learnt lots of interesting little things today. “FACT”
Got up bright and early this morning (a thinly veiled benefit to staying with Ian and Rach who need to get up for work at some silly time of day ;-) and got to Westminster Abbey before it opened thus avoiding (most) of the queues. It’s a much better time of day to do the seriously touristy stuff because a) you’re not yet sick of walking around b) you can move around without elbows and c) you can sneak some photos. That place has a truly amazing history and is yet another building that features architecture that we will never come close to emulating again.
And they only blinked twice at my student card… Not that the UK is particularly student friendly discount wise. Germany, however.. Everything was almost half price there.
So it warmed up substantially by the time I got out of there. I had heard on the radio this morning that “It’s going to be a scorching 30 degrees in London today..” Ahh Englanders. I got on a boat cruise from Westminster (opposite the London Eye) that took me all the way to Greenwich. Over an hour on the water and past lots of great stuff. Melbourne’s fascination with converted warehouse apartments is somewhat dwarfed by the creations I saw along there. Nigh on every historic wharf (and there’s lots) has been turned into pretty special waterfront apartment complexes. I doubt you’d pick up anything (say one bedroom) there for less than half a million pounds.
I’m sure it’s a lovely place to live for 8 days a year when the whether is like it was today! If it were me I’d undoubtedly get one of those amphibious vehicles to avoid the London traffic.
Greenwich is a nice spot. It was funny to finally visit a town that is so famous. I hear/use the terms GMT/UTC or “Greenwich Mean Time” probably at least a couple of times a day, so it’s very much in my general headspace. Really it’d just a typical (and swanky) inner London town, though it does feel as though it’s further from the city than it actually is. And it happens to have an astonomical observatory and a big steel line running through the park indicating 00:00:00′ longitude. If only I found someone carrying a GPS to verify that for me…
Definitely more my kind of museum, this one. A largely complete history of timepieces; lots of cogwheels, brass and intricate engineering. Funnily enough I didn’t actually stumble across any of that in Switzerland despite their reputation in that area.
Time for a quick rant about the trains here. Specifically the tube actually, because the rail out to Chelmsford has been largely fast and impressive, if pricey. Of the 4 days I’ve used the tube, every one I’ve gotten stuck on a delayed train at least once during the day. They’re unreliable, very hot, far too crowded, extremely loud (I measured it at 100dB even above ground – much louder in tunnels) and of course monstrously expensive.
You can’t really drive a car here, between horrendous traffic, cost of petrol/insurance, congestion charges (£5 per day to enter the city). Bicycles would be a pain because of the weather. I reckon a scooter is just about the only option I could live with. Evidently lots of people agree as there are a multitude of the things.
Belgium it is. For various reasons I’m not going to head back to Germany to pick the bike up, and since I’ve got 2 weeks before I fly out of Zurich there’s time for some more on the continent. Getting the train (i.e. through the channel tunnel – before it goes broke!) to Brussels on the 4th of August – which gives me 4 more days in London. Still got a few more things to do here (quite a lot actually) so that should be about right. Absolutely, definitely going to the Superbikes at Brands Hatch on Sunday ;-)
I was very keen to go somewhere beachy – namely Spain or Southern France, but although I could still find reasonably cheap flights (have left things very late here) hostels were another matter entirely. Expensive and all booked out. I’ll console myself with the fact that (I’ve been told) Australian beaches are far superior anyway.
Bring on the Hoegaarden!
Landed at Stansted around 11pm local time last night. Much more palatable flight at only an hour or so!
Looking forward to a day in front of the teev.. Formula 1 from Germany and MotoGP from, well, here. Dad put some beer in the fridge for me ;-) All the kids (Ian, Rachel, Chantelle and Stephen) are coming around too, so I might need to put a video tape in and pay some attention to them!
I noticed that Olly and Helen have put up some great photos from the first day of the bike leg through the Swiss alps. It doesn’t feel as cold looking at the photos! Click on the pic to check them out.
Also a rather good one of Olly and I right before we left over here