We're in another transition city. London was kind of taboo in our planning, as we knew the Olympics would make the place a nightmare for a significant stretch of our trip. We planned to get into the UK after it had completed, and we started from the north to give the place time to clear up a bit after it finished. We had not, however, factored into our thinking the Paralympics, which are on right now.
As we had both been to London before, we were happy to minimise our time here in order to give other cities more days. As a result, we just have the two nights, with this morning spent travelling uneventfully from Cardiff by train, and tomorrow comprising our only full day. We did a similar thing in Paris, though unlike that leg, Sam could probably have used more time here. His schedule is packed with musicals, meals and meet-ups.
London is one of those cities that makes you remember how busy a city can be. It is a lot like New York in its sprawling breadth, multiple districts, and constant activity. It even makes big names like Paris seem comparatively quiet; for all of its size, Paris maintains a lazy nonchalance even in peak times. From the moment we hopped off the train you get slapped in the face by the hustle and bustle. We caught the Underground to our accommodation - the rather stately Palmers Lodge hostel - and then I headed out.
Obviously, it's been a busier than usual season, but man, it really is hard going. You couldn't even walk down the pavement easily. There are people everywhere, going in every direction and standing in your way. The traffic isn't as gridlocked as you may expect, which means that you have to stop at pedestrian crossings regularly. I was tired of walking in it even just an hour in. Hopefully I'll find myself in less crowded areas, though given it's a Saturday I think just about everywhere will still be packed with tourists.
I had vaguely intended to go to the Tate Modern museum tomorrow, so a sign in the hostel lobby caught my eye. It was a Top 10 list of things to do while in London, and it said that Tate entry was free, which surprised me. I'm pretty sure I visited last time we were here and I would have thought we paid. I'll investigate and see whether or not they have a deal or if it really is free entry. Perhaps the current exhibitions require payment but the permanent collection does not? Either way, it seems appropriate to spend my last full day in Europe getting one last infusion of culture before I go. Sunday morning we battle Heathrow before departing for somewhere completely different: Canada.