A partially tongue in cheek presentation of my pictures from London, United Kingdom
04.08.2007 - 07.08.2007
View EuroTrip 2007 on GregW's travel map.
Right then, dim the lights, time to get started. Thanks for coming over to my virtual place to see my holiday snaps slide show. Let's get started, I'll turn on the projector...
Hmm, seems to be a hair stuck in there. Let me get it out. Alright, who's the owner of this long black hair?
Anyway, here I am in...
...oh wait, it's upside down. Let me just correct that.
That's better. You probably thought I was Batman there for a second, hanging upside down. Hehehe. No, this is me in London. Wonderful weather when I was there - sunny and warm all the time. Hardly seemed like London at all. Where was the fog and rain?
This is my hotel. Very posh, as the Brits would say. They pampered me endlessly, with rose petal baths and massages by thai girls and greek madiens feeding me grapes and... Oh, I see some faces in the crowd are either getting bored, or jealous, or perhaps both. Let's move on, shall we?
In London, they use the POUND as their money, but you already knew that because Adam Ant told you so in his song Goody Two Shoes. You know the one, Write it on a pound note, pound note Goody two, goody two, goody goody two shoes... But they don't have pound notes anymore. Good thing Adam Ant is dead, otherwise he'd have to sing write it on a five-pound note, which flows no where near as well.
What? Adam Ant isn't dead? Ummm, that guy who sang Rock Me Amadeus is dead, though, right? I know somebody is dead.
Anyway, things are very expensive in London. At first it doesn't seem that way, because they say something like "that'll be 2 pound 60 pence, goven'r," and you think that doesn't sound like much. But then you convert it into Canadian money and it's like, almost 6 bucks, which is a lot for a sandwich, especially a soggy sandwich.
First up, the Royal Albert Hall. Albert Hall holds 5,222 people, or 4,000 holes. Apparently holes are bigger than people. I guess that makes sense, if you are going to bury Adam Ant in one.
Across from Albert Hall is the Albert Memorial, which Queen Victoria had build to commenerate the dude she was married to, whose name was Jim. No, just kidding, it was Albert. Anyway, on each corner of the memorial is a different geographic region represented that was part of the British Empire. Here was see Europe. Sadly, right after I took this picture, a staff member from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) came along and put the cow down due to foot and mouth disease.
Strangely, the last foot and mouth outbreak happened in 2001, when my Dad was travelling around Britian. Perhaps we Wessons are carriers of the disease. I'll probably never be allowed in Britian again.
Anyway, don't feel too bad for the cow on the Albert Memorial, as the North American corner has a buffalo, and the British killed them all off long ago.
Next I went to Buckingham Palace, which is the home of the Queen of Canada. I understand that she is Queen of some other countries as well, but Canada is the biggest, so you think she'd lead with that. I mean, if you were emperor of Rhode Island and California, wouldn't you mention California, the larger place, first? I know I would.
That's Picadilly Circus. Listen, I understand not having horses or elephants, ala some sort of Cirque de Soliel anti-animal cruelty stance, but if you don't have clowns or acrobats, I'm not really sure you should call yourself a circus at all.
Trafalgar Square, which most impressed me with the fact that the Canadian Embassy is located on the square. Very prime location. Go Canada!
Right then, perhaps London's most famous symbol, Big Ben. Actually, the clock's bell is called Big Ben. The tower itself is just called Clock Tower.
This is Westminster Abbey, which as a half-Anglican I decided I should check out. After all, it's where the head of our church, the ruling monarch, is corninated. Is that a word? So the Queen of Canada (and, I guess, also England) is both the my head of state and my moral compass. Is that a conflict of interest?
This is some travelling fair. Damn carnies...
Just kidding, this is the Eye of London, which was a big ferris wheel put up as part of the Millennial celebrations in 2000. I guess they forgot to take it down.
This is the Tower of London, which many people mistakenly think is a bridge (we'll get to that in a second). Within it's walls are where the crown jewels are kept. No, that's not a reference to Prince Phillips delicate bits, but rather the crown and scepters and such that monarchs like to wear.
When I was in the tower, I overheard the following conversation between one of the guards, called yeomen warders (pictured above, they are so soft and cuddly, hard to imagine that they could protect the jewels, but whatever) and one of the cleaners, called janitors.
Janitor (pulling wallet from trash bin): Hey, someone has been robbed.
Guard: Just put the wallet down mate.
Janitor (not putting wallet down): I found it in the trash.
Guard: Just put it on top of the bin, mate.
Janitor (still not putting wallet down): There's no money in it.
Guard: Put it down, mate! Put it down!
At this point, the guard gently guides the janitors hand down to the top of the trash bin, where the janitor drops the wallet.
Guard: See, they can get fingerprints off it if you don't touch it.
At this point, I'm thinking - do they really dust for fingerprints of pick pockets?
Janitor: Oh, yes, no problem, I'll just wipe off my fingerprints.
The Janitor then takes his rag, and wipes down the wallet. The guard looks very frustrated. Either the janitor was incredibly stupid, or a criminal mastermind who happened to be the pick-pocket. Either way, the guard then got on his walk-talkie and asked to have the CCTV footage brought up of the area to see if they could determine who dumped the wallet. Just liked the palace guards in the middle ages would have done.
This is the Tower Bridge, which is both one of London's most famous symbols, and one of the one's most often misidentified. Either people think it's the tower of London (which it isn't, see above), or they think it's London Bridge. This was not the famous bridge that was falling down, though. That bridge, like all old things, went to Arizona to retire.
While Big Ben and the Tower Bridge will remain London's most famous symbols, the Swiss Re headquarters, also called the Gherkin, is fast on it's heels as a symbol of this modern city. I don't know what Swiss Re does, something with insurance, I think. Though if you want to talk insurance, you need to talk about Lloyd's of London...
...which this picture is not of. Rather, this is a picture of The Lloyd's Register Group offices, "a maritime classification society and independent risk management organisation providing risk assessment and mitigation services and management systems certification."
Both Lloyd's of London insurance and the martime registry both owe their name to a coffee house in the 17th century where merchants, marine underwriters, and others, all connected with shipping used to hang out. The owner, Edward Lloyd, helped them to exchange information by circulating a printed sheet of all the news he heard. In 1760, the Register Society was formed by the customers of the coffee house.
Anyway, the real Lloyd's of London is nearby though. There buildings are very modern.
You can be forgiven for thinking it's an oil refinery. I did.
Of course, you wouldn't expect me to go to London without having a pint in the pub. I was in a pub talking with a local who, upon learning I was from Canada, told me that our portions were too big. He talked about a friend of his who went to Canada and came back 300 pounds. It seems that the large Canadian food portions got to him.
The next day, I ordered bangers and mash in a pub.
I am not certain that 4 sausages with a side of potatos flooded in gravy is exactly health food, but who am I to argue with the nutrional expertise of a drunken drywaller in a London pub.
There are lots of great images of London, worthy of being the defining image of the place. The Tower Bridge, Big Ben, the Gherkin, Buckingham Palace or even a pint in a pub. But I think the two images that best define London today are these...
The big red C, for congestion zone. If you drive your car in central London during the day, the mayor Ken Livingston picks your pocket in the form of a congestion tax. Actually, I like the idea. I wouldn't mind them doing that in Toronto and spending the money raised on improving transit. And while London would be a good example, perhaps not the best. I did have to wait more than 15 minutes for a District line train on Saturday night...
Eyes in the sky, CCTV cameras are everywhere. I think the police of London have my entire trip on tape. They should really think about selling those to tourists. "Hey look, here I am getting pick-pocketed in the Tower of London!"
London is taking a picture of you, as you take pictures of London.