Thursday, December 29, 2016

London 2016 - Days 4 & 5 (12/27/2016 & 12/28/2016) - Solo Jaunt

I slept later yet again this morning, making it until 5:30.  Brad left for the airport at 6:30, leaving me with a day on my own in London.  I left the hotel at 8:40am, aiming to make it by foot to the Tower of London sometime around the 9am opening.  I was there around 9:10, and the lines were still short (which was not the case when I left a couple of hours later).  The tower experience was OK, so I didn't feel too bad about skipping out on it the first time I was in London 11 years ago.  I gave up on the audio guide after a while because I wasn't all that interested.  I also decided that I find the idea of crown jewels (and a monarchy in general) garish and outdated; I'm not sure how much my annoyance at the queue to see the jewels played into this decision.

From the tower I took the tube to Westminster.  I first went in search of something fast, open, and peculiar to London for lunch, but settled for Subway after finding 2 Itsu locations closed.  I then walked back to Westminster Abbey to (stand in line and then) do the audio tour.  I liked the cathedral, but not as much as St. Paul's.

Afterward I had about 1.5 hours to kill before heading for my 3:30pm Up at The O2 (UATO2) appointment.  This wasn't enough time to check out the Imperial War Museum, which had been my original plan (though I wasn't too torn up about it since I probably had enough battle artifacts from the Tower of London Armory).  After finding the ticket office for the houses of parliament closed, I took the tube over to Canary Wharf to check out the Crossrail Place building (which I had seen on some TV program) and its roof garden.

After that I took the Jubilee line one more stop over to North Greenwich, arriving at UATO2 right at the suggested 15 minutes prior (though that earliness was cancelled out by an inability to access my ticket barcode due to lack of an Internet connection - it eventually got sorted, though it should have been much easier than it was).  Overall the climb was probably worthwhile.  It wasn't as strenuous as the advertising would have you believe (I guess they're trying to CYA for couch potatoes), but the last part of the descent did get a little slippery for some people.  The view up top would also be much better if it were closer to central London.

After the climb I had a quick dinner at Square Pie in the O2, then took the Underground back to the hotel.  My length and quality of sleep improved even more that night, just in time for me to depart back to Seattle the next morning.  I was fortunate enough to get business class again for the return flight, with less worrying in the run-up this time.

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