Sunday, August 20, 2006

Part I - London - Not vanilla ice cream

Gros Ben
London in itself was a realization to me. Kinda like finding out that you really like something that you never really gave much thought to. I have always considered London akin to store-bought vanilla ice cream; good but not great and certainly not all that interesting. I am really glad to be wrong about this one. London is anything BUT vanilla ice cream. The people are interesting, the architecture is eye-catching and the history is so rich with pride, tradition and scandal (what a great mix).

Nous avons commencer Londres du bon pieds: avec une pint de biere au pub le plus pres de notre hotel. En parlant d'hotel, notre chambre est tellement petite que meme un schtroumph (smurf) aurait de la difficulte a se trouver de la place! Ah oui, est-ce que j'ai mentionne que ca fait environ5 jours que notre hotel n'a pas d'eau chade? On prend nos bains avec de l'aide de la bouilloire!

London Tower Bridge

We started off our first day by sleeping in, eating at a local bakery and heading to Buckingham Palace. We're still not really sure what is so interesting about this building (the Queen aside)...there were literally hundreds of people lining the gold-tipped wrought iron gates taking pictures of a concrete structure....a boring building really. Erik and I had more fun taking pictures of the people than of Buckingham Palace itself. We then hopped on the top of a double-decker bus. We opted for the double-decker in order to get a better feel for the city and its sights. Great choice. Highly recommended.

Speakers' Corner (Not the Much Music one)

Un de nos arrets les plus interessants etait le ''Speaker's Corner''. Grand bastion de la liberte d'expression, sauf pour quelques exceptions(pas d'insultes liees a la famille royale). Les gens se presentent chaque dimanche a Hyde Park avec une boite (ou une echelle) sur laquelle ils prechent de tout et de rien: de religion, de guerre, de politique et de coneries. Les debats sont nombreux avec des centaines de personnes qui sont a la recherche de discours interessants. Assez impressionant!!!

St. Paul's Cathedral

In riding through the streets of London, we saw many things. We saw Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Parliament, the London Eye, the London Tower Bridge, Shakespeare's Globe and, of course, the infamous Harrod's. We finished the day at a great Indian restaurant with a mediocre bottle of wine. Lots to digest for such a short stop but a great beginning to our adventure.
Next stop: St. Petersburg...