Pre-post: As my readers already know, I went on a very brief vacation to London, England a few weeks ago. Most may have already read the first part of my trip, and the wonderful places we visited the first day we arrived there; that blog can be read (or re-read) here.
This is the second part to that blog series in which I plan to go into more detail describing the places we saw/visited, and the great pictures we took (yes, all with my awesome Samsung Galaxy S5, baby! :D)
On the second day of our UK, trip, the relative we were staying with decided to take us back to Central London during the day-time. We woke up later than usual, but I guess we were so jet-lagged from the day before — and the fact that we didn’t rest up as soon as we landed but instead decided to sight-see — that the ‘sleep-in’ was much needed. However, we still had ample time to see all the places we wanted to see during the day (it normally seemed to get dark around 5 pm there), and I am so glad that I got to see Central London, both during the day and during the night; it’s no doubt a lovely city and because we were so short on time, we still managed to see enough to last us some great pictures and memories.
Oh, before I go any further, I forgot to include this little bit of information in my first blog, and I should have mentioned it, that Central London (for me) was the only place that looked and felt like I was actually in Europe. The rest of London, (well, okay, the rest for me only included East London, as that is where the relative lived and where we stayed mostly), looked and felt so much like I was in Pakistan — Karachi, to be exact. Of course, this is not to say that all of East London was like that, but for me, for the most part, it really and truly felt like I was in Karachi. The best part: while we waited for the double-decker bus on our first night there (yes, we rode on the double-decker bus! And it was so cool!), there was a Pashtun family right beside us, speaking in what sounded like the Swati dialect of Pashto. The woman actually looked like she just came out of a kalli (village); she was dressed in a shalwar kameez and a paRuney (cloth, usually white in colour, used as a full body covering), except her face wasn’t covered. And she was speaking — more like screaming — to her kids, which made my heart all warm and fuzzy. There’s something about seeing Pashtuns in public, and that too in a foreign country, which makes you feel like you are right at home, in your own village. I guess I must have been staring at the woman and her kids a bit too fondly, when the relative leaned towards me and whispered, “Welcome to Mingawara, khor (sister).” He later told me that there were lots and lots of Pashtuns scattered all across London, and the UK in general.
Anyway, we decided to take the
subway tube again. (Oddly, I mentioned ‘subway’ to a passerby in London, and he looked at me strangely and wondered if I was referring to the subway restaurant, LOL! You see, here in Canada, the underground trains are referred to as the subway station; unfortunately, having to use that term in London — and that too not deliberately — was just very awkwardly hilarious.) I have to say, however, how incredibly impressed I was with the underground transportation system there. In comparison to Toronto, which I hate to say is quite embarrassing, you can literally go anywhere you want; from East London to Central London to West London, and so on and so forth. There are quite a few stops that you’ll need to bear, but the great thing about trains is that, unlike buses, there is no traffic and they travel so much faster, so you get to your destination much, much quicker. Below is a picture I took of one of the train routes we were on. I know it’s a little unclear and confusing to read, but still, I’d take London’s uber convenient transit system over TO’s any day!
As soon as we got off the train, the first thing we decided to check out was the Tower of London; this included the Tower Bridge as well (yes, the one from the nursery rhyme!). Here are some pics from the trip below:
BTW, as a side note, the Tower Bridge is not the real London bridge, as we are often told.
It appears that when the bridge was being built (like from the nursery rhyme again, ’cause apparently, it kept “falling down” for some reason, heh), rather than it being built in London, the contractors got confused and ended up building that bridge in the United States! Now I am not sure where in the US the real London bridge is built, but the story itself is both hilarious and fascinating. Maybe my readers who are reading this can perhaps shed some further light on this? It would be interesting to know where exactly the real and actual London bridge ended up. What actually happened was this, as relayed by one of my lovely besties whom I got the privilege to MEET and hang out with during my awesome London visit. More on that in part three; wouldn’t want to spoil it for ya’ll now :D:
What happened was that London Bridge was up for sale, and it was bought by America. It was dismantled and shipped across and rebuilt there (I don’t know whereabouts). However, apparently America thought they were buying the fabulous Tower Bridge which most people still refer to as London Bridge, but they in fact ended up with London Bridge, which is just a plain old bridge! 😀
Here’s another version of the story, or myth as my friend Carl calls it, with more specific dates and places (gosh, this stuff is just so intriguing!):
London Bridge is the next bridge upstream from Tower Bridge. For hundreds of years it was the only bridge over the Thames. The original one was built by the Romans. Then there was a famous medieval one that had lots of houses on it. That was demolished in the 19th Century (the year 1832). It was replaced by another which lasted until 1973 (I recall!) — this is the one that was moved to America, to Arizona, and was replaced by the current (rather dull one). The story is that the Americans thought they were buying Tower Bridge. But that’s just a myth – even the American’s aren’t silly enough to buy the wrong bridge! 🙂
After we visited the Tower of London, we hopped back on the tube and got off right in front of the Big Ben again. The Big Ben certainly looked different in broad daylight, as compared to the first time we saw it at night. And, I hate to say this but, in broad daylight, Big Ben looked like any typical old grandfather clock ;). The night version was definitely far more attractive. Here are some more pics of the Big Ben, parliament square, and Central London for your viewing pleasure:
Also, you see the giant ferris wheel in one of the above set of pictures? (You may have also seen the wheel in my first blog post, which is also commonly known as “The London Eye.”) Well, we rode it! And, I must say I was very pleasantly surprised at how well, and beautifully I should add, it was set up. Each cart was a giant glass room; quite comfortable with seats as well. Of course, we barely got to sit, because it was just so exciting to be able to see all of London from the very top (and trust me when I say we were pretty darn high up!). The only unfortunate thing (and I guess I shouldn’t say it is unfortunate, but still) was that we got to the ferris wheel when it was already getting dark, and by the time we got on and reached the very top (the carts moved extremely slow too), it was quite dark. It would have been better to have been able to see the whole city from the top in broad daylight, but I guess I can’t complain as the view was still as breath-taking as ever. I did manage to take some pics, but they may not have come out as clear. Obviously, nothing compares to the real deal, but, here you go anyway. Enjoy!:
Hmm, I can’t think of anything else worth mentioning that we did after we rode the London Eye. I know we walked about some more, and ended up eating dinner with the relative and his roommates at this super delicious South Asian restaurant (the name slips my mind for the time being, but I’ll be sure to ask what it was called, ’cause I must say the food in London is just phenomenal!).
Anyway, I guess that’s it for now. The third part to this blog will be more interesting, as we ended up traveling, outside of London city, to this breath-taking sea-side and cliffs area called Birling Gap. It was actually a surprise trip, planned by the relative and his roommates, and gosh, it was just so much fun! We all had the time of our lives. More on that, and the beautiful Pashtun friends and incredible hospitality that I experienced during my visit, soon. So, stay tuned, lovely readers, and don’t forget to leave your comments/feedback (on my awesome photography, haha, I kid!). No, but really, I always welcome and appreciate both readership and people taking the time to leave comments, so go right ahead! Don’t be shy 😉