24.12.2012 - 25.12.2012 7 °C
Christmas in London with amazing new friends, ridiculous amounts of food and beautiful weather. What more could you want? But I'm getting ahead of myself... back to the day before -
By Monday we still hadn't had time to buy each other Christmas presents yet so we headed into Oxford Street to check that out first and on our way we stopped at a Starbucks to grab a coffee and a free fix of Facebook! (After finding out that it would be £17 to have wifi in our room just for a 24 hour period we have decided to visit Starbucks more often and just use theirs) Renae's friend Ash met us in Topshop and it took us long enough just to look through the 3 massive levels of that! We then headed off to find Victoria's Secret and again spent ages in their ooing and ahhing over everything. We wandered around Oxford for a while but then decided our plan of splitting up for an hour to get each other a present would work better at a mall so Ash told us how to get to the closest Westfield before she left. We definitely looked like little Aussie tourists when we saw how massive this place was and I think Renae did manage to get lost despite it's figure 8 set out, purely because every store front was so huge and impressive that it was tricky to tell them all apart. After our present mission was completed we began the even harder task of picking up a few items from a supermarket to bring to dinner for Christmas.... The place we ended up at had such massive lines to pay that there was a manager walking around handing out free chocolates to keep everyone happy! We survived that experience (some of you will
find that difficult to believe as you know my patience levels are certainly not my strong point) and dropped our purchases back home, wrapped up our presents and then headed out again once it got dark (probably about 4pm!) to see Big Ben and Westminster. At this stage of our time in London, the end of our second day, we decided we were masters of the tube and feel like locals as we confidently change lines and find platforms . I will let you know when that falls through and we manage to get stuck in the door or lost in the underground system!
But I digress... back to Big Ben! I had forgotten just how impressive the Houses of Parliament buildings are and when you walk up the stairs from the underground and find yourself looking directly up at them and Big Ben, it really does take your breath away. Joining the hundred others already gathered there, we took lots of photos and looked across the Thames to more of the city before heading towards Westminster. At night time they have it all lit up from underneath which gives it such a spooky and gothic look that we again stood for ages before I had the great idea to walk around the building. "We'll just go down this street", I said. "We can see the back of it", I said. Three dingy little streets later and I gave up and decided that these were probably not the streets to walk through at night time so we found our way back to the road. No harm done for those parents or fiancés reading this
We walked along the Thames until the next tube stop and took photos of The Eye on our way and then headed back to Hyde Park corner to see the Winter Wonderland. It was basically just a big Toowoomba show, or probably closer to The Ekka, but it was nice to walk through there on Christmas Eve and start getting excited for Christmas. We headed back to our hotel then to call home for family Christmas time on our dodgy wifi that cost £5 and only worked in the lobby. We just talked really loudly to annoy them all Was great to see everyone's faces before falling asleep on Christmas Eve.
Christmas morning came and it looked quite gloomy outside but we were very excited to open our presents and go downstairs to use the hotel computer to check our Facebook and see how everyone's Christmas days had been back home. To our amazement they actually shut down all public transport on Christmas Day here except for taxis, so we then got ready and got in a taxi to take us out to Ash's place, where we were planning to spend the day. The taxi driver was so rude though that he told us he didn't even know where the place was and when we said near Wimbledon that it was miles away and we were crazy to be catching a taxi there and that he couldn't help us. Friendly chap. So we headed back inside and did some more research as to where it was and after google maps saying it would take about 40 ,minutes and the cab website saying it would cost over £100 to get there and back we had given up. Ash then said we could stay the night at her place, which we figured was a waste of our hotel for the night but at least we'd be doing something on Christmas Day, so we grabbed our pyjamas and headed out to get another taxi. This time we had a lovely old man who put the address in his GPS, said it would be about 25 minutes and then headed off. Well actually to be honest he was typing that all in as he was driving like a maniac. It seems he has made a game out of beating the GPS expected time of arrival, so we made it there in good time, with only a few pending bruises from being thrown against the doors and with a fee no where near what we expected.
We had brunch at Ash's place and were joined by her friend Jason, who is another Aussie over here working for a year and then when he left and while Ash had a nap, Renae and I went for a walk to see Wimbledon Stadium, which is only round the corner. It was a big complex but we were more impressed by all the cute little houses we found on our detour on the way home. We then all walked over to Ash's friend's place for dinner. Kinga (a beautiful Polish girl) and Ben (a really funny Kiwi) had set up their dining room with a big, real Christmas tree and beautifully set table and candles and carols playing and they even had an Aussie flag hanging up in the corner! They were absolutely awesome people and had prepared a big Polish meal for us, which we gladly ate after only having brunch and walking a lot. We then talked for ages, Kinga has done a psychology course so was really interesting to talk to and being from Poland she had so many stories to tell us about their history, particularly during WWII and how Poland is still playing catch up to Western ways and a new government. So for those of you interested, I have another history lesson prepared on Poland for you!
I would gladly have stayed there talking and dancing (and at one stage all trying on different moustaches which Ben had been given as a present) all night, but they had to work in the morning so around midnight we walked back to Ash's house and crashed after a very enjoyable Christmas Day.
It is currently Wednesday morning and I am sitting out on the lounge, typing this and waiting for the girls to make an appearance so that Renae and I can head home and get changed before finding a Starbucks where I can post this Hope everyone had as merry a Christmas as we all did and a relaxing Boxing Day!