December 30, 2003


I found out that I was moving to the London for work on Monday (12/15/03) and left on the following Friday. So, you can imagine what a wreck I was trying to take care of my home logistics and to pack for a 6 month stay in a cold and wet England.

I arrived in London on December 20, 2003. Since my arrival, I have purchased a big wool coat. My thin coat from Old Navy just wasn't keeping me warm. I have also bought a pair of Clarks boots (on sale!) so I can walk all over London comfortably.

Even though the big annual sales (discounts up to as much as 80%) don't officially start until January, some stores begin their sales immediately after Christmas. Clarks started their sales two weeks before Christmas. Not surprisingly, even with the huge discounts, most items are still more expensive than what we can find in the states.

My work keeps me super busy, but I do try to see the sites while I'm in this lovely city. Since December 20, I have visited: Westminster Abbey, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre; attended Christmas Eve service at the St. Paul's Church in Covent Garden; walked across the Millenium Bridge from St. Paul's Cathedral to South Bank; watched the last Matrix at IMAX; got a massage and haircut in Neal's Yard; and rummaged through Brick Lane and Portobello Road (Sunday and Saturday markets).

This is definitely a great experience, living in a huge city, without a car, taking the tube, and walking everywhere. However, I often get annoyed at so many pedestrians getting in my way. I can only image when the weather gets better and when the tourist season begins.

I'll try to post some pictures soon.

Posted by oneray at 9:04 AM

December 4, 2003

London in November

November 22 - 30.

London wasn't too terribly cold in late November. Sure, there wasn't much sun except for two days out of the nine that I was there, but the cold and dreary weather was bearable.

This is technically my second visit to London. The first trip, however, I didn't see much, I was only meeting my Contiki travel group there and didn't do any sightseeing.

This trip, I basically saw everthing:
- went into Westminster Abby and saw the tombs of famous people like Handel, Charles Darwin, Sir Isaac Newton, and more.
- visited the Tower of London to see the crown jewels. The place is more like a fort with several buildings within. At one point, it served as a prison.
- saw the Tate Modern Museum and really enjoyed the Weather Project that you see as you first enter the building. Now, that's art!
- walked through the British Museum and saw the Reading Room which holds many old books that used to be read by famous/important people. The museum also has the rosetta stone on display.
- viewed the many famous paintings in the National Gallery. Too many good ones to mention.
- listened to great arias sung at St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church during their 1PM concerts, which are free!
- road the London Eye to get a great few of this charming city.
- shopped Portabello Road and found some vintage rhinestone jewelry and Indian textiles.
- ran through Harrod's. It was too busy on Saturday, but we did eat at their famous salt meat deli.

All in all, it was great... but I do have some gripes:
- it's dirty there. Not sure if it's pollution or just too many people smoking everywhere. Sometimes, I waver between not breathing and breathing the nasty air.
- everything is so expensive! To see the Tower of London was about $24 USD per person. Average meal for two people (2 main course, 2 still waters) is about $50 USD... and these were restaurants recommended by the Timeout Cheap Eats book. I'm used to eating for $10 and getting a great meal.
- it's cold and lacking sun. However, the British people, at least the ones I've met, are wonderfully warm.

Posted by oneray at 9:25 AM