Woke up at 4:30, stressed that I wouldn't wake up in time to get to Gare du Nord at 6:30am for my 7:15am Eurostar to London-St. Pancras International. Went to go take a shower and the lights in the shower short-circuited. Perfect. Had to go to another floor's showers. Got into this new shower, undressed and all, only to find that I had half a shower door. Just getting better. Showered, dressed, hair-combed, tooth-brushed, went downstairs to have breakfast (at about 5:45 now). Took a swig of my soy milk from the carton, only to find it to be the consistency of cream. Delightful. Had to throw half a carton of milk down the sink. Thankfully, I had enough pain de brioche au raisin to last me for breakfast (as well as an apple).
Took a metro (filled with mostly non-seedy people...really just people who had partied too much Friday night) to Gare de L'Est where I switched lines and go to the HUGE Gare du Nord. Navigated through the station to find the international departures, filled out an immigration card, passed security/customs and finally boarded my Eurostar car. That train was freakin' packed. I was super tired so despite the beautiful hills of Northern France rolling past my windows, I took a nice 2-hour nap.
Reached London and stepped out of the Eurostar. Immediately cold. At least it wasn't raining. Made my way out to the Arrivals terminal and who was waiting for me? My old friend Adam! I was absolutely delighted to see him. Haven't seen him in about two years, so that was a really nice reunion. If you want to know, this is Adam:
Yes, beautiful. So we took the Tube (vastly more comfortable than the Parisian metro) to Piccadilly Circus, where we found a ridiculous-looking souvenir kiosk where a man was selling tickets for The Original Tour, London's best hop-on, hop-off sightseeing tour by bus. We bought a couple of tickets, found the nearest stop and hopped on the bus. Sat on the top and toured London for about an hour on the bus, taking pictures of one old building after another (that was basically the extent of Adam's commentary on his hometown--"I don't know what that is. An old building?" Or maybe that's just what it sounded like. Impossible to tell through that British accent). We passed a whole lot of neat sites but ended up getting off at St. James Park, from where we then had to walk all the way to Buckingham Palace, already packed with people for the Changing of the Guard.
Being small, I pushed my way to the front of a crowd blocked off by rails but, as we were not next to the gates leading into the courtyard, we saw none of the actual 'changing,' just people marching in and out in funny-looking guard uniforms. Some woman commented, "What good traveling pair! She fits anywhere and you're so tall" about me and Adam, as I had handed him my camera and he was taking pictures from his much-higher vantage point (he's about 6'3"..where do I find these tall friends???).
Anyway, we got bored after about an hour or so of standing around and seeing nothing so we peaced and walked towards Hyde Park Corner, where we intended to meet Spencer (another friend from Harvard Summer Program, which is where I met Adam). We got there and waited for about twenty minutes or so for a very-lost Spencer to arrive. Adam got lazy and sat down, but I demanded we take pictures. (Me in front of Wellington Arch)
Spencer finally found us, and we started off on a long trek to Brompton Road, which is apparently the only place to eat in London (not really, but it seemed that way). We ate at some random sandwich eatery and all I had was a Moroccan falafel, which took just as long for me to eat as it took the boys to each eat several meals (or so it seemed to me). Incidentally, we happened to be eating right across from Harrod's (a huge and famous department store, as well as the only place in London nearly as photographed as the Buckingham Palace). So, of course, we took pictures.
Adam, that jerk, squatted for every picture he was in with me. Should have slapped him.
Then, we were off! To find Spencer tour bus tickets and to get on at the nearest bus stop. Once on the bus, the rest of the day was basically touring, finding places to get off and take pictures in groups of two. Marble Arch:
Memorial statue thing in front of Buckingham Palace:
London Parliament building:
London Eye (and some bridge..Westminster Bridge?):
St. Paul's Cathedral (where Diana and Charles got married):
London Tower: (incredibly incredibly old castle/fortress, now holds the crown jewels)
And me in an English telephone booth:
So at about 4:30, our tour ended (sadly) and I took a very early Tube (several Tubes in fact...got lost) to get to the train station about 1.5 hours early. Boredom. Bought a sandwich and a hot chocolate. (Also, tried to pay in Euros, French currency, for the hot chocolate and the cashier had to call over her French-speaking co-worker to speak to me, thinking I preferred speaking French...LOL) Took another nap on the Eurostar. Took the far-less-complicated Parisian metro back to the Foyer, had a yogurt and voila! Went to bed. Such was my night.
Blog post about Chartres to come.
Also, update about tonight: went shopping for a bathing suit and sunglasses. Bought fabulous Galeries Lafayettes sunglasses for 20 Euros. Also, while shopping, bought a pain aux raisins. Yes, two pastries in one day. Means no pastries until Friday. Sigh me.