[philiptellis] Walking the world in search of interestingness

Saturday, September 16, 2000

London, Nottingham and Buddy

Hey chappies, how are you'll doing? I'm doing jolly good out here. Arrived in the UK on Tuesday the 5th of September, but didn't do too much during the first few days. Spent a few days visiting family, so I won't bore you with that. Let's jump straight to my trips around the place.

The first Saturday, I had to go visit my mum's friend in the South West. I'm staying in Luton (North of London). Had to change trains five or six times to get there because there was a dead body on the tracks.

The stations here all have very good directions and signboards everywhere. Each platform serves only particular destinations, and these are well marked on the foot over bridge as well as at the ticket booking office. On the platform there are television screens that tell you when the next train is due, and if it is late, what time it will actually arrive. This is updated every minute. It also has all the stations that the train will stop at.

There are multiple train operators in the UK, and all of them run through London. Try and imagine how they coordinate with each other. One can buy a single ticket for all these operators as well as most of the buses that run through London. There are travel zones within which each ticket is valid.

On Monday, I visited London - alone. Took the train to King's Cross, and then switched to the Victoria Line subway to Baker Street.

The first and most obvious visit on Baker Street was to 221b - the home of Mr. Holmes. There's the Sherlock Holmes museum there and it's filled with stuff from Doyle's books. There's even letters to Holmes from people all over the world. There's a guy dressed as Holmes standing outside the station handing out business cards, and there's also a statue of Holmes there. Admission for adults is £6.50, but if you're a student, carry your ID card - you get discounts on everything in the US and the UK.

After Holmes, there's Madame Tussaud's. The planetarium and Wax museum are attached from the inside. The line for the Wax museum is huge, but there is no line for the planetarium. You can buy a combined ticket for £2.50 less. You can also get coupons from the train station where you buy your travel card and get further discounts of up to £2.00.

The planetarium show is pretty cool, but could have been better. After that, the wax museum is really cool. The whole place is amazing. One can spend quite some time there.

One can also get the London City Bus Tour from Baker Street. It costs £12.50, but the Thames catamaran cruise can be added on for £2.50. The tour is great and there's running commentary for the entire route. The cruise also has a good commentary, and shows you many sites that you can only see from the river. The Thames is pronounce Tems by the way, the 'T' is pronounced like the hard 'T' in Hindi.

I stayed late in London that night. At about 8:00 pm, I went down to the Tower. It closes at 5:00 pm, but I just walked around the outside. Walked across the Tower Bridge. It is probably the only bridge in the world that is a suspension and a draw bridge.

Walked along the other side of the Thames to the London Bridge. The New London Bridge is a short distance from the original one built by the Romans. At that time, it was the only connection between the two banks of the river - apart from boat that is.

On Tuesday, I left for Nottingham. One of my friends is studying there. I spent the whole of Tuesday there. At night, she took me to a French restaurant called Café Rouge. The weirdest thing was that I was an indian boy eating in a french restaurant in the UK, wearing a Pennsylvania T-Shirt. We tried to go to a club after that - there were five of us by now, but they were all closed. One thing about this country - everything closes early. When shops say that they are open late, they mean 9 pm. English restaurants are open till 9 or 9:30, while others (French, Thai, Chinese etc) are open till 11:30 pm.

Spent the rest of the night working in the computer lab at the University of Nottingham. Took the 10:35 bus in the morning back to Luton, which was supposed to get back by 12:35. Unforunately though, there are huge protests over the rise in petrol prices and the M1 was blocked, so we had to take the A5. Finally got into Luton at 2 pm.

Today (Friday) went with my aunt to watch Buddy (The Buddy Holly Story) at the Strand. It's a play by the way for those of you who didn't know. We had seats almost at the front, so could see every note being played. It's an amazing play and if any of you have the chance, go and see it. Goes on for about two and a half hours and every moment is great. There are also a few other plays showing right now, including the ever running Phantom of the Opera, The booked a year in advance Lion King, Mama Mia, Whisper in the Wind and many more.

All in all, this is an amazing place to visit, but only if you have a lot of cash on you. Everything is really expensive here. The pound's about 54 Rupees right now, and most stuff is around 10 Pound.

That's all for my report from the UK, ciao all.


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