My goal for the day was not to get hit by a car and most likely a big double-decker bus. I’ve heard of horror stories of visitors becoming hood ornaments their first day in London. I thought it can’t be that much of an issue. However, it messes with you more than you think!
Today was a slow day. I spent most of the morning sleeping, unpacking, and getting my bearings. I headed out mid day to the Southfields Tube station where I navigated my way through the computer kiosk and got myself a 7 day unlimited usage Oyster Card. I’m now free to ride the rails all over London.
Being accustomed to the Metro in DC and the subways in New York, figuring out and using the Tube system wasn’t a problem. However, how they interact with the over-rail train system is going to take me a few days to get the hang of.
My first Tube stop and destination was Hyde Park. I walked north through this massive park. Along the way I came across Speakers corner were people gather and stand on a soapbox so-to-speak to yell, rant, and scream about anything. When I walked by the only voices I heard where the usual ones in my head. I couldn’t see a soul in sight so I kept on moving on.
I moved west across the park and found the memorial to the people who died in the London terror attacks. It’s the 6-year anniversary today and the large memorial plaque was covered with flowers from family, friends, and supporters of the victims. The memorial houses 18 square pillars in a zen like rock garden. Each pillar had the victims name, age and location to where they died.
Hyde park wasn’t actually my mission today. It was to find the Sri Lanka embassy to make sure I would be allowed into the country on a 30-day visa. I was told I would be fine but then I read something that might have suggested otherwise.
I found the embassy, and after speaking to an official, I was told that I would be good to go. Which was a relief since I didn’t have much time for issues nor did I want that hanging over my head while I was in London.
I made my way back into Hyde Park and found myself at the Princess Diane memorial. The memorial was a granite water feature that was shaped in a ring on a slope with running water streaming down both sides, starting from the top. (Apparently gravity works in London too.) The memorial encourages visitors to put their feet in the water in remembrance. (Don’t drink the water down stream!)
Later in the day I spoke with some Brits who said the memorial was very controversial. Many people felt since Princess Diana divorced the royal family and was technically a commoner that it shouldn’t be built. As they say in London, “That’s rubbish.”
I found the memorial to be interesting, really nice, and cheesy all at the same time. Parts of the rings were carved weird to make the water do different things. It believe it should just flow without making the water do tricks. What do I know? You should go and see for yourself.
After walking through the park I came across the Albert Memorial and the Albert Hall across the street. Might take awhile to load but take a look.
After spending time taking in the scenery at the memorial I headed south into Kensington where I decided to “pop in” for some proper fish and chips at a real fish and chips pub. In London you order your food at the bar, and then go take your seat. When your food is ready they will deliver it to your table. If you order at the bar you don’t need to tip. Beer of course is never cold.
The meal was ok but nothing out of this world. I read my travel book some and then headed south through Kensington. When I got to the other end I jumped on the tube and headed to Claire’s house where I spend the reminder of the day.
It wasn’t bad for my first day in London and I didn’t get hit by a double-decker bus!