Today, after being in London for one week, I decided it was time I ventured out on the Piccadilly Line to do the tourist thing. Being a typical tourist is relatively cringe-worthy, but how else do you get your bearings, take the photos and feel the rush of being in a new, amazing city? So in the freezing but gorgeously sunny Friday weather, off on the dark blue line I went; Finsbury Park to Covent Garden…
Covent Garden is one of my favourite places in London. Sitting on the eastern fringes of the West End, it was formerly associated with fruit and vege markets but these days is a vibrant tourist hot spot and a popular shopping destination. Not only are there street performers, markets and shopping – but also a ton of culture. The South of the Convent Garden district is home to it’s most elegant buildings and theatres; Theatre Royale, Drury Lane and London Transport Museum. You never come away short of entertained. The street performers are always out, the struggle is which to give you attention to! One of my favourite spots is the Punch and Judy pub, where you can sit up on the balcony overlooking the square with a view of everything going on in the square. Something about Punch and Judy brings back some childhood memories for me – i’m not sure what, but a bit of nostalgia is always nice when you’re away from home. The markets, Apple and Jubilee, are a mixture of souvenir and British-made good stalls – and the shopping in the area is fantastic. Long Acre splits the markets from the independent shops – where I may or may not have spent a bit of money today (doing my bit helping keep Zara in business…).
From Covent Garden I went wandering, trying to remember my way down to the river. I wandered down some cute paved lanes and fell in to TopShop (destiny?) and as I looked up, I realised I had made it to The Strand. From The Strand I walked down towards the water and at the end of Northumberland Road I stumbled upon the Golden Jubilee Bridge. All of a sudden, through sun-strike (yes!!) and some bare branched trees, I caught a glimpse of the London Eye – the tourist in me shot into overdrive! I climbed the stairs to the bridge and decided to cross the Thames. Once on this bridge, constructed in 2002 in honour of Queen Elizabeth II’s fiftieth accession, I looked down the river to see the London Eye on one side of me and Big Ben on the other – quintessential London – a perfect mix of the traditional and the modern side of this fascinating city. I couldn’t stop smiling.
Blown away by this and with my ‘I love London’ adrenaline at an all time high, I ventured back over the bridge and made my way up Northumberland Avenue. I fell in to Trafalgar Square – it really did seem that every path I took brought me to yet another world-renowned site, each begging me stop, stare, take photos and pinch myself to make sure it was all real. Trafalgar Square is a public space in central London built around the area formerly known as Charring Cross. It sits within the City of Westminster and at its centre is the famous Nelson’s Column, which is guarded by four gorgeous lions.
From Trafalgar Square I walked over the road to the Admiralty Arch before heading down The Mall, past St James’ Park, in search of Buckingham Palace. Looked like Queenie wasn’t home – her flag wasn’t up – so I took a few photos and decided to make my way back to Covent Garden for some retail therapy via Horse Guards Parade.
After strolling through St James’ Park, meeting a squirrel and spending some pounds in Zara, I decided to drag my tired feet back to the tube as suddenly it hit me that i’m not on holiday, i’m not a tourist, I don’t need to do everything at once…this is home now. Maybe I need to take my I heart London t-shirt and Union Jack top hat off and tone down the nerdy tourist I seemed to be channeling -locals don’t do that…right?