YES! I went to London last week!
I really enjoy exploring places I've never been before. And of course London is one of the most well-known and crowded places in the world. Also, my boyfriend is originally from England so I just had to visit it some day.
London was nice! I mean, it was really really crowded and we were quickly tired because of all the walking, but there were so many things to see,I really enjoyed it :) .
First thing that happened was the snow that fell the night before we had to go. Busses didn't drive, but the trains were, so we walked to the central station, where everything went fine.
It was my second time flying so I was a bit nervous. Also when we were almost at Heathrow I accidentally hit Nick in the eye (I just wanted to cuddle him), his lense was also removed.. but we managed to save it after all.
We had a hotel next to a busy (Cromwell) road. It said to be a 3+star hotel, but it actually wasn't worth a star at all. The room was really small, I didn't have a night table next to my part of the bed, it looked old and you couldn't turn around in the bathroom without hitting the wall or the bin. It was also very cold, there wasn't any central heating we could turn on and the isolation was really bad, that's why we also had a lot of noise coming from the road next to us.
Though it wasn't as comfortable as we paid for, it was acceptable because...this was more than I have at my own room (I just don't need that much). And when we we're 'home', we'd sneak under the blankets to warm ourselves up and I really like snuggling so I actually had no problem with it.
I think the price was probably high because of the great location, facing a supermarket (Sainsbury's) and at the end of the road (5 min. walking) were the most important museums. It was also near Hyde Park, and though we went a lot with the underground (metro), it was fine.
We went to the Natural History Museum and Science museum the first day. I've seen lots of musea, but these were...cool and interesting...these were very nice to be at. And they were free (Dutch musea always have an entrance fee). The designs of the expositions we're really nice made and better than I've ever seen. I guess they really have a better eye when it comes to those things (or just a bigger budget). It was also very interactive, which helps you to actually think about the subjects instead of just observing the information.
After the musea, we went towards the Thames where we planned to take a river cruise. On the way we saw the Big Ben (or just the Clock Tower..) and crossed the Thames ourselves. The London Eye is something we'll save for the next time (actually Nick has a fear of heights, just couldn't risk it). The river cruise was enjoyable, afterwards we went to a game-arcade by Namco. for just 10 pennies you could play several games (a lot cheaper than the normal fair here in the Netherlands).But beside spending time winning and (mainly) losing I had the chance to play a real game of Dance Dance Revolution how it was meant to be, instead of playing it at a soft pad at home. It was way too easy though :/ And we played a game of Silent Hill (killing zombies) which we both lost because of the lack of bullets we got (they probably just want to earn more money with that, you could buy new ones..) We had lots of fun though! We got hungry and went to a nearby restaurant, a noodle bar which was as cheap as it tasted. It really tasted like instant noodles or worse, everything was fried..yuck...
After that we walked towards the west where there was a small christmas market with TOO MUCH cute stuff. I just couldn't choose what to buy and wanted it all but ended up with nothing 'cause it was nothing useful anyway. But I did buy a comic of the Moomins in one of the book stores we we went to. Tired of all the walking, we went back with the underground and went to bed early.
Next day we planned to go on a 'shopping spree' (didn't actually buy something besides food), went to Harrods and Hamleys...to Oxford street which was awesomely crowded, walked to Covent garden towards the water. We then walked alongside the Thames, towards the Tower Bridge..which was a long long walk but a great sight. We arrived at the London Dungeon, a kind of interactive show about the black stories of London (Jack the Ripper, Sweeney Todd...). And I'm not scared easily, but I didn't feel at ease there. It was all pretty realistic...which is of course the point. When it was finished, we went back to Cromwell Road and went to a Garfunkel's Restaurant, got pizza and Irish Stew (the latter wasn't really good..) and went back to the hotel.
Sunday is a perfect day to relax, enjoy a bit-late-breakfast and go to Hyde park, to Winter Wonderland, a big christmas fair German-style. But before that, we went to the IMAX 3D movie theatre (located in the Science Museum), which is the one of the largest ones in the world. We went to a movie about the ocean, it was a great experience! Hyde park was very crowded, but a nice scenery anyway. We wanted to try one of the cheap restaurants near our hotel, went to an Indian, but discovered that the prices only included a piece of meat, without any veggies or potatoes/pasta of any kind. So we went outside again, a bit ashamed but laughing too. Their neighbours were an Italian restaurant which looked like a decent place to eat. We got a table from a very funny Italian waiter, but I just couldn't trust the guy. Second funny thing was that there would come an extra tip on the bill afterwards. Third thing was that a glass of wine costed 7,50 (pounds).. even more expensive than a pizza o.o; Pretty weird huh?! Well we had a dinner with lots of Dutch people around us (which I didn't like very much) and about a hundred of Japanese girls o.o.. well, it was special indeed :P..
We wondered what to do on Monday, we were getting worried for the trip back to the Netherlands because of the weather, but it's a short distant so it probably wouldn't be that difficult. Anyway, we decided to visit Covent Garden again and went to two art museums as well. We did the shopping for some souvenirs and the inevitable Cheddar cheese and Branston pickles, went to bed early because it would be a long day tomorrow.
Tuesday was our trip back, but the flight was planned at 18.15 ...we could take all the time we needed. We were far too early at Heathrow Airport and spent our time drinking tea and playing games. Finally we could check in our baggage and move forward to the shops and such.. Nick bought me earmuffs (actually as a present from his mom), I finally found some I really liked :)
After waiting and waiting and waiting we finally got into the air plane. And the most wonderful thing of all was our sight from the sky: all the lights from London and other cities, that was really beautiful! We arrived exactly on time at Schiphol but from there it went downhill.
Apparently after five days the railways were still kinda down. We thought that maybe we'd get one hour delay, but it was far more. We had to travel to Amsterdam, then take a slow train to Amersfoort. somewhere before Hilversum the motor of the train had a breakdown because it was on fire. It was very silent in the train, kinda scary... we stopped at the next station, had to wait and then take the next train. From Amersfoort we had to go to Zwolle,with again a train that stops at all stations -_-; we were 00.15 at Zwolle and had to wait for the last train of 00.56 which also had delay.. we were very scared that we couldn't get anywhere anymore. But the train eventually came and we were 02.15 in Groningen where there were no busses of course. We didn't want to walk home anymore, tired as we were, so we took a taxi. It was almost six hours from Schiphol to home...which is FAR too long. Stupid NS.
The days after that were also very busy because we had to arrange something else for christmas 'cause we couldn't celebrate with Nicks family.. we decided to stay together at Nicks place. I did the last-minute shopping and such..
Even with the white blanket over our land, it didn't really feel like christmas anymore as I was not with any family but Nick. It was fine, we watched christmas movies, gave eachother presents and the next day we went to his mom and my parents, but still.
About London: It feels familiar.. but the people are more polite, which is a good thing!
Also, it feels like they use far more illustrations than we do in the Netherlands, which I think is a good promise for the future. They do have more of everything anyway..food, drinks, stores..it's pretty cool.
I got a book about sketchbooks from Nick by the way. Pretty interesting how lots of people use it as a visual diary.. I never thought about it that way. Allthough I don't like the idea to make perfect drawings in it. Sketches can be stupid and boring and totally wrong, but it doesn't matter since they're just sketches. I personally don't like to only observe the world around me. I mean.. that already exists..I like to imagine things and draw that..never really understand why people have joy in drawing a bowl of fruits either..
But for now this story is getting far too long. Excuse me if you find any bad English, for it is still my secod language and I still make mistakes.
I hope you had a nice christmas and wish you all a great new-year celebrations and of course an awesome 2010!