Monday, March 26, 2007

Day Five: Holy Cow, I'm a Tourist!

I've been to London quite a few times -- enough so that I feel I've done most of the touristy things, and can just hang out and shop or see plays or whatever.

Today, I went all touristy.  And what was odd was that I wasn't even being touristy with Debra (who had a wicked migraine and stayed in the hotel room wishing she could make time pass faster) -- I was touristy all by myself.

We slept in.  I didn't really get a good start until about 2:00.  (Hey, when I sleep in, I sleep in.)  The other night, we'd wanted to do a night-time cruise on the Thames (but had been too late for it) -- and I sorta liked the idea so thought I'd do a little day-time sightseeing tour.  I ended up compromising with myself -- rather than taking a "circle" tour (which would dump me off where I started), I took a one-way 20 minute job that started at Westminster pier (across the river from the London Eye -- the big honkin' ferris wheel) and took us down the river past a bunch of bridges and ended up at the Tower of London.

Once at the Tower proper (which is really more fortress than actual tower), I instantly regretted my footwear choice, as I could feel every damn cobblestone beneath my thin-soled (though sharp-looking) boots.  I sidled over to some relatively smooth pavement and booked on over to the Tower Bridge.  Tower Bridge itself has a tour where you can walk across the upper walkway and (allegedly) get good views of the city.  Seemed worth a go.

I should've known right away that it was a tourist trap given that the city map I'd picked up from my hotel concierge gave me 20% off at this particular attraction.  (It supplied discounts at a few other B-list attractions, and C- or D- list restaurants.) 

It only cost me 3 pounds -- which is about 6 bucks.  That was with the map discount and with the regular discount because half the attraction wasn't available for viewing.  See, the Tower bridge has a lower level and an upper level spanning across the river.  The lower level splits in two and the pieces elevate so that boats can go through.  Although this operates on electricity now, it was originally a feat of Victorian hydraulic engineering.  The Tower Bridge tour was supposed to include a tour of the Victorian engine rooms, but they were out of commission.  So, my six bucks basically got me two 3-minute films on the history of the bridge and a walk across the upper walkway.  (Ooooo.)

By the time I'd completed my underwhelming tour of Tower Bridge, it was around 5:30, so I booked on out to Victoria to grab some dinner before the show.  Ate in a pub/restaurant right next to the theatre--felt all Traditional English Fare, so had a "steak and ale" pie, "mushy" peas, and an actual alcoholic beverage (cider).  I can't prove it, but I'm pretty sure I got way better service than the Americans at other tables who were not drinking.  Then again, there was an awful lot of cider in that bottle, so maybe I was imagining it.

Saw Billy Elliot (the musical) -- which is, if you've seen the movie, pretty much exactly what you'd expect.  I know there's talk of bringing it to America and there may be some concern about its importability -- I can see why.  It's very English.  Trying to do something that English in America might be like trying to do a Motown musical in Lond-  Hey!

2 comments:

lanurseprn said...

You'd be fun to travel with!  After I did all the necessary touristy things. LOL.
Pam

memes121 said...

LOL! Tammy