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Honeymoon: Day 4

April 21st, 2009

The last full day in London we wanted to make sure we saw the rest of the major sights, so we headed over to Waterloo Station and made our way to the “London Eye,” the huge ferris wheel on the Thames. On the way, we got sidetracked by yet another street food market (a lot of those in London, not enough in Madrid).



One thing I have to say about London: they handle queues very badly. Or did I mention that before? In any case, the lines for the London Eye–or I should say, the line, it was a common feeder line–was huge, in large part because they sold tickets to lots of stuff there, not just the wheel. So, essentially, you have to wait on a combination of lines even if you want only the one ticket. It was quite a long wait.


Worse was actually in line at the wheel itself. Sachi and I were shuttled into one line, but somehow, people after us were allowed into a line right beside it where they ran past us, probably 50-100 people let in before we were despite getting in line much later. Very annoying.

Once on the wheel, however, you forget a lot of that. It’s a brilliant location for a wheel, good thinking there. The views are wonderful, though you do have to jockey for position inside the car for a good shot. But it’s lovely from up there.


The view of St. Paul’s, lit up very locally via a break in the clouds (click for 800 x 1200 version):


And of course, Westminster Palace and Big Ben (again, click for larger):


Off the wheel and on to Westminster:


No need to post an image of Big Ben from the street–rather common image. But I was interested in the detail of the clock:

Big Ben Detail

Didn’t know there was an inscription on it: “O Lord, keep safe our Queen Victoria the First.”

In a small park across from parliament, a whole bunch of people for and/or for Sri Lanka were gathered in protest. The center of it was just in front of the statue of Winston Churchill, who seemed rather peeved at them.


In another part of the park was a statue I did not necessarily expect:


Maybe I missed the statue of Gandhi.

Westminster itself was a beautiful set of buildings, splendid architecture:


Afterwards, we went to Buckingham Palace, which, frankly, was not incredibly impressive–not nearly as much as Westminster was. There were two of the enormous-hatted guards in front (can they see from under those things?). In a flight of fancy, I imagined the Queen opening the door, leaning out, and screaming, “Get out of my god-damned driveway, you f***ing tourists!!!” But no, just the armed guards pacing back and forth. Seems like a rather boring job.




After that, we were off to Hyde Park, because the weather was good (or good enough) and Sachi was agreeable to me doing some birding. In Western Europe, a common bird is this particular magpie, in starkly contrasting white and black. It was essentially the same as the Azure-winged Magpie seen in Japan, right down to the long, broad tail, save for the coloring–and its commonness. Like the crow or bulbul in Japan, the magpie is everywhere, and frankly, I prefer it over the common birds of Japan.

Magpie Flight


Also well-represented in waterways in London are the cousins the Moorhen and the Coot, as well as Great Tits (with more yellow on their sides than I recall seeing in Japan).




But this is one I didn’t expect to see: a beautiful bird I spied at a distance once before: the Horned Grebe.


Click this one for a larger version:


Also in the park were some interesting denizens, among them a horde of squirrels.

Hyde Squirrel

There was also no small amount of horse, er, residue; equestrians were the reason for this. I wonder how much money you need to do this kind of hobby in downtown London.

Hyde Equest

We then went to the corner of Hyde Park which I’d heard of before: Speakers’ Corner. I wanted to see what Britons wanted to talk about. Of course, it’s not completely free speech; breach certain limits and the cops will stop you. But at that time, only one person was speaking, a fellow going on about Lazarus, to no purpose I could discern.

Hyde Speaker

At night, Sachi and I enjoyed some good food at “Ye Olde London,” a pub we wnt to mostly because it was close to the hotel. Sachi was less impressed by her vegetable order (too many potatoes), but I loved the fish & chips they served.


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