The London trip was even more crammed than Paris. This was purely business, so sightseeing was limited – in fact all the exploration took place within a 4 hour period after the conclusion of our meetings. In other words, forget the glamour of being in London, we were cooped in at the Heathrow Hilton for days with only bread and water for sustenance – ok, so I”m exaggerating just a little.
My colleague Arnaldo and I took the Heathrow Express Train from Airport Terminal 4 to Paddington Station downtown. It was a short ride and as soon as we got in we hurried off the train and made our way to the exit and up the stairs, to get some air and sunlight.
Hitting the London street I was pleased with the late day light – good for photos – but the surrounding area itself was pretty bland – looked just like certain sections of downtown Montreal or other large North American cities for that matter.
Time being constrained, I figured I would start with a street shot. I brought the Nikon’s viewfinder to my eye and got ready to walk on to the street, facing the traffic (there was none) when I felt something behind me, the oddest sensation. Instinctively I quickly got back on the curb just as something big, red, and ugly whizzed past me. Had I actually stayed on the road I would have been projected a good 100 feet (30 meters) or so – this would have been accompanied by the sound of crunching bones (mine).
Arnaldo, who witnessed everything was white-faced. I must have been too, and “brown-pantsed” as well. We both kept an eye out for each other after that, as we crossed street after street in our quest to see as much of London as possible in a few hours.
After almost getting squashed by that double-decker bus (I forgot they drive on the left in the UK) we made our way towards the Thames.
The first stop was Trafalgar Square – statues, fountains, and free stainless steel bathrooms (for some reason the latter left a mark on me). After that it was Big Ben and The Parliament buildings – “nice” as Borat would say and then the amazing Westminster Abbey (we did not have time to visit inside).
We walked back to the Thames, photographed the Millennium Wheel and decided that was enough – time to sample the English beer at the first pub we would encounter – very good and reasonably priced by London standards.
So in a relatively short time, we managed to see quite a few of the landmarks – including
Buckingham Palace (it was a bit of a disappointment, particularly since the Royal Family did not come out to greet us). It was my first trip to the UK but I hope I will be back real soon.
We returned to the Hotel in the evening, taking the underground (the tube) to Paddington and then back on the train to Heathrow. After 4 hours of brisk London walking we were both tired and hungry. We stayed at the Hotel and had hamburgers for dinner – I don’t remember the exact price but I know it could have fed a family in a developing country for a year (I think it was 32 pounds or something totally ridiculous in that range – but it did come with fries).
The next morning it was Air Canada back home (once more stopping in Toronto).
The London Gallery.