6/10/11 02:01 am - BESS & ALEX'S EXCELLENT U.K. ADVENTURE: Days 0-1 (aka WE'RE HERE! Doctor Who! Lots of random birds!)
So, once upon a time in March, moonlingmaid sent me a four page text message that was 3+ pages going "OMG PAUL MCGANN IS GOING TO BE AT GALLY NEXT YEAR OMG WE HAVE GO OMGGGGG PAUL MCGANN PAUL MCGANN PAUL MCGANNNNNNNNNNNNN <3333333333333333333333333333", and the last sentence tacked on was, "oh btw do you want to go to London with me in June". (LOL oh A.)
This? Is the end result of that. (Well, the last part of that. Y'all will hear about the result of the FIRST part of that text message later this year, I'm sure, when I'm frantically scrambling to get all our cosplays ready! XD)
NOTE: Because I am the one with the fancy-schmancy camera (and thus the one who knows how to OPERATE it), and Alex freely admits that she "[has] no idea how to smile for the camera", pretty much all the pictures contained herein are either just of landmarks, scenery, etc. OR have Alex a) looking bemused, b) in profile, or c) from behind. Any that contain her actually SMILING properly are either an accident, or me being stealthy.
SO we did get on our flight on Friday! (We flew standby, since we got cheap tickets through my mom, who works for the airline.) Not only that, we got into FIRST CLASS!!! (Often where you get put when flying non-rev on international flights, since those are the seats that are open, but still. EXCITING.) So we got to fly first class on a nearly 9 hour flight. Which was AWESOME. Srsly, so cool. The seats reclined to 180 degrees for sleeping, and we got blankets and pillows! We got a fancy three-course meal that was actually really tasty! Yeah, it was super awesome.
A on the plane.
The flight left at 9:45 PM on Friday, and we got in at around noon on Saturday (both local times). Now, we didn't actually have a hotel for Saturday, since we weren't originally expecting to leave until Saturday (which was the first day I had requested off) and thus wouldn't get in until SUNDAY, but my schedule came out and my manager had unexpectedly given me Friday off as well! So we got in on Saturday and didn't have a hotel until Sunday, and apparently something was going on last weekend (we still have not deduced exactly *WHAT*--there seemed to be a big football match on Saturday, but we're not quite sure if that's what caused the lack of hotels), because EVERYWHERE--youth hostels, B&Bs, hotels, EVERYTHING--was totally booked. We ended up going to Tourist Information over by Picadilly Circus, and GOOD NEWS! They found us a place! BAD NEWS! It was 130GPB a night. :( Sad face. Oh, well, c'est la vie, we needed a room, it was just one night, and I cannot even bring myself to care because, after lugging all of our luggage from the airport to Tourist Information to Notting Hill Gate and FINALLY to our hotel (and all of this while it is WEIRDLY HOT AND HUMID FOR LONDON, and we are in warm plane clothes!)...
WE GOT TO WATCH DOCTOR WHO LIVE ON THE BBC. FUCK YEAH.
The TV we watched Doctor Who on!
We actually got in around 4 PM, and, after watching a bit of Total Wipeout! (which is inexplicably both more hilarious and less depressing than its American counterpart), we went and grabbed takeout from a cute little Greek bistro just down the street from our hotel. Then, all settled in with our dinner, it was Doctor Who time!
Okay, small TRIP SUMMARY diversion: EPISODE REACTION TIME. (Mom, if you're reading this, you can skip this part! It'll be boring for you! Also for people who haven't seen the ep, it probs won't make much sense. Also, you know, ~spoilers!~)
So, to start with, we had both been spoiled for the River twist. We knew it was coming, and even if we didn't it was kind of LOL OBVIOUS pretty early on. Beyond that, we noted that this felt kind of like a Rusty finale, in that it had that, "OH WHY NOT LET'S JUST THROW IT ALL IN" feeling (Random cybermen that were TOTALLY UNNECESSARY! Headless monks that are suspiciously Jedi-like! RANDOM CALL-BACKS TO AT LEAST A HANDFUL OF EPISODES!), mixed with some questionable pacing. However, like everyone else and their mothers, WE LOVED THE VICTORIAN LESBIANS! Add both of our names to the growing list of "People Who Would TOTALLY Watch The SHIT Outta That Spin-off". Hmm, what else? Lorna was cool. We liked her. Also, Rory. OH GOD RORY. Okay, my fangirling of Rory/Arthur has pretty much gotten to the point where he could walk onscreen and go "uh, hullo?" and I would just go "*HEARTEYES* :DDD", but. Dude. SO BADASS. ("Would you like me to repeat the question?") *huggles him* Oh god, and the scene between him & River at Stormcage. (Although, dude, my reaction was just, like, River: I can't help you. Me: BECAUSE SHE CAN'T CROSS HER OWN TIMESTREAM! Rory: D: WHUT. Me: BECAUSE SHE *CAN'T CROSS HER OWN TIMESTREAM*!!! DUH!!!) Also, at the end after the reveal, when the Doctor goes, "But, that means...but we...*kissy face*" River: "Uh huuuuuh." Doctor: "*giggles* *looks to Amy & Rory* *looks back* *giggles again*" I did a "ZOMG *giggle/facepalm*". Because yeah. XD
Overall, A describes her feelings on the episode as "ambivalent", and I'm really disappointed it wasn't just BETTER, but I like it more upon reflection. (Even if, as a complete episode it didn't feel very satisfying, there were a lot of really good individual moments.) I'm gonna wait to see how the plotlines resolve, and then re-evaluate.
Okay, BACK TO LONDON. Now, the advantage of being two twenty-somethings with fucked up sleep schedules? Virtually no jet lag. :DDD! So we stayed up for like an hour or so after DW, and then went to bed around 8:30 PM, and woke up at around 8:30 AM the next day. Since check-in wasn't until 2 PM at our next hotel, we ended up checking out and leaving our luggage in the luggage room of our hotel, and then going out for the day.
Our first hotel room.
We explored the area a bit, starting out just kind of wandering aimlessly.
Look! It's a classic British telephone booth!
Street near our first hotel, in Notting Hill area.
Eventually we ran into Kensington Gardens. We shrugged, and went, sure, why not, let's go in! We ended up walking around the Round Pond for quite a while.
The Round Pond.
Oh, look, A's smiling! I have surprised her ;)
There were TONS of birds there--most notably, a HUGE number of swans. I'm not sure I've ever seen that many swans in one place before. (A & I both, of course, thought of Slings & Arrows. Because that is the sort of dorks we are.)
So many swans!
They were really surprisingly fearless--we were able to get quite close.
Of course, the ducks were fearless as well. I can only assume all the fearlessness is because they've been overfed by humans bearing stale bread.
He just marched right up to me!
We also saw ducklings...
With a strangely-colored, one-legged parent!duck.
...and Canada geese!
Not confined to North America!
Also spotted: strange, rather vague signs that we got the gist of, but were still lulzy anyway.
Lulzy signs: Exhibit A.
So, we eventually continued on, and finally A actually got a map and looked at it and went, "Huh. Kensington Gardens is RIGHT NEXT TO Hyde Park. It's Sunday morning. We could head up to Speakers Corner." So I went, "OOOH YES LET'S DO THAT" and we were off.
On the way there, we took in the gorgeous scenery and general atmosphere. Also, lots of random observations:
They have horse trails all around the edge of Hyde Park. So there are RANDOM HORSE RIDERS in the middle of the city. Kinda cool.
There are locks on all the benches in Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens. Is bench stealing a big problem around here?!
This is a ~POLICE STATION. ...yeah, IKR!?!
They have some very cool water fountains in the Gardens.
Weird, but pretty. *CHILD NOT INCLUDED IN FOUNTAIN, MUST BE PURCHASED SEPARATELY!
When we finally got ALLLLLLL the way up to Speakers Corner, we were either too late on Sunday morning (although it was only 11 AM), or it just ain't what it used to be in the '70s when my mom lived here--she's the one who recommended we go. There was just one lonely religious nut. He was pitching Christianity--not even a particular SECT of Christianity, just ~Christianity in general! Whut. I took a little too much pleasure in telling the girl who came up to me as we tried to walk away "no thanks" to the literature she was handing out, and when she pressed, "What did you think of the message?", I positively DELIGHTEDLY replied, "I think that I'm an Atheist!" while walking away. She shouted a, "Awww, god bless you!" somewhat lulzily at my back.
Aww, hey there, Mr. Religious Nut! *pats head*
On our way back from Speakers Corner, we stopped at the Serpentine Gallery, which is a tiny little free gallery in Kensington Gardens which had a strange little exhibit that involved an Evil Refrigerator (it makes sense in context), the Italian Gardens, and the Peter Pan sculpture.
The Italian Gardens
The Peter Pan statue.
The Peter Pan statue is really quite cool. Apparently J M Barrie lived near Kensington Gardens and drew some inspiration from it for his stories.
There was also a heron standing in the Serpentine across from the Peter Pan statue, apparently looking at it along with the tourists.
Clearly the heron has good taste.
After that, we kind of milled around, and realizing we needed something to do since it was still only like 11:45, Alex, again consulting the map, realized we were reasonably close to Exhibition Road, so we headed up there.
Exhibition Road. There was some major construction work going on.
There was a bunch of construction work going on--all over the city, actually, not just Exhibition Road--apparently for the 2012 Olympics. So that has caused some minor inconveniences.
So, we decided to go to the Science Museum, which turned out to be EXCELLENT, and we spent like five hours there, fo srs. It was AWESOME. They had very good food in the cafe, as well.
Finally, we left the Science Museum, and it was raining, oh dear. We collected our luggage from our old hotel, and headed over to our new one. IN THE RAIN. WITH ALL OUR LUGGAGE. D:
Finally, soaking and tired, we got to our new hotel, checked in, and CRASHED.
That's it for now! COMING SOON:
DAY 2: Harrods, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and the London Eye!
DAY 3: Tate Modern, the Millennium Bridge, and meeting up with Cheryl!
DAY 4: THEATRE DAY! Much Ado About Nothing with David Tennant and Catherine Tate, and Svengali with Derren Brown!
DAY 5: Covent Garden area, Forbidden Planet, meeting up with lolrassilon, seeing Butley with Paul McGann, and oh yeah, MEETING PAUL MCGANN!!!
And now I'm going to bed, so I'm all rested for Day 6 ;) MORE SOON, PURPLE-EYED CREATURES!