Sightseeing in London

20 July 2012 

Yesterday I finally got around to doing some sightseeing. Most of my time so far has been spent on fruitless searches for clothes appropriate for interviews/work, hunting for work, and on searching for accommodation - hostel or flat. But yesterday it was dry enough and I’d had enough of being cooped up in this dodgy hybrid of a hotel/hostel, so I bought a ticket for the sightseeing bus. 

I’ve found it useful to take a guided tour, by bus or by boat, as a good way to orient myself in a new city. In Singapore the bus had a number of routes with a frequent service and an interesting commentary. The bus in London was similar, but due to the traffic it took two hours to go halfway round the route, after which I had had enough. I spent a great deal of time reading my book between the short periods of looking at something interesting. The commentary was quite interesting however, but they could have done with more to fill in the gaps. And they certainly should have included more than 5 pieces of music on repeat, knowing the time it would take to get around the route. However, while tedious, I do now have a better appreciation for how the city is set out, see a few famous landmarks, and learn the reason behind some of the place names.

Wellington Arch.

Marble Arch.

Tower Bridge.
Driving over Tower Bridge.

After the bus I took the ferry from the Tower of London back down the river to the London Eye. Sadly no commentary this time. I decided to fork out for the Eye as the line didn’t look too long. It was kinda strange, as it brought back a whole lot of memories from when I was here 10 years ago. My impressions of London are very different second time around. I don’t recall so many Europeans around last time, and being a tourist is a very different thing to actually living in a place. The area around the London Eye has been changed too – there’s a lovely park nearby now, created for the Jubilee according to the wayfinding signs around that said ‘opening Spring 2012’. I was even somewhat surprised and a little pleased to find the restaurant that Tia and I went to dinner at on our first day in England is still in operation, though I think it may have shifted a few doors down. We were ever so thankful to find it that day, exhausted, starving, and completely unfamiliar with the place.
The London Eye.

Jubilee Park.
They’ve added a new attraction to the London Eye – the London Eye Experience. In 4D. I asked the guy at the counter what this was about, and he, with some embarrassment in his voice, explained it was a short 3D film with special effects. As it was free, I gave it a go. I thought the film would be perhaps about the making of the eye, or one of those ones where it’s like you’re on the ride itself (though I wasn’t sure how exciting a very slow glide in a circle would be). It turned out to be a short advert of sorts for the Eye, with the fabulous addition of bubbles and foam. Sooo not worth it. 

Unlike on the Singaporean equivalent where I was alone in my capsule, here they put about 15 of us in together, but it was still a good view of the city. Though I am struck with how brown and unexciting the city looks in comparison with some others I have seen on my way here. Though I still absolutely love the Houses of Parliament. Unfortunately it was impossible to get a decent photo of the houses of parliament in the haze and with the reflected glare of the Eye.

Hanging capsules on the London Eye.

View of St Paul's Cathedral and the city.
Waterloo Station.

The Thames.


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