12 hours in London, England.

March 1, 2017


It’s a city that I only ever hear bad news about; whether it’s the government, terrorism or some form of strike, it has always just been a little dot on the map where I knew big things happened.

I have been twice in my life before now – once when I was seven years old and it was cool to take a day off school to go travelling (thanks, Dad), and last year for a job interview. I suppose that’s a little known fact about me – I applied for (and failed to secure) a job at a massive accountancy firm in London. Boy, how things would be different for me if I got that.

Anyway, I decided to head down to London for a day on January 2 2017. An amazing way to start the new year.

I arrived at Buchanan Bus Station in Glasgow at around 10pm on New Year’s Day, giving me almost two hours to kill before hopping on the Megabus to London. You can read more about my not-so-fantastic bus ride here.

I dragged myself off the bus after it pulled into London Victoria at 8:30am, and tried to look for the exit through bleary eyes.

The first point of call was breakfast – a nine hour journey on a bus with nothing but a few disappointingly flavourless Pringles had left my stomach sound like a grizzly bear falling down a mountain. Yeah, have fun trying to picture that.

 I wanted to spend time searching for a cute little unknown shop for a bagel or something, but I had hardly made it off the bus when the smell of Frankie and Benny’s beckoned me. I am ashamed. But hey, at least I was full.

A quick look at my phone and I realised that I was right around the corner from Buckingham Palace, and old Queen Lizzy herself who unfortunately wasn’t home.

The building itself was absolutely stunning, but it was so difficult to get a good picture past all of the tourists crowding the gates – my anticipation of a quiet Monday morning sans tourists was quickly falling apart.

We jumped on a tour bus next, after research proved that unless you wanted to get eaten alive on the underground, tour buses were the best way to see and travel the city.

It was an uncharacteristically sunny day, and so I had absolutely wonderful lighting for a lot of my pictures, the majority of which were taken with an iPhone 6 camera after I accidentally brought the wrong lens for my SLR – I don’t like the zoomy ones.

A few people chuckled to themselves when they saw me taking a picture of a really shiny Maserati parked round the corner from the bus station.

I am not a car enthusiast – far from it, in fact. Hence the reason why I took the picture.

Last year, when out with my (now ex) boyfriend, we were waiting on a bus in a not-so-busy street outside of Glasgow. A few of his friends were with us, and although we had been together for several years, I still felt like I had to make a good impression.

As if in cue, in rolled a Maserati.

No one had noticed it yet – this was my chance. My boyfriend and I had talked about this car before, so I was confident that I knew everything that there was to know about this beautiful vehicle.

So I cleared my throat, mustered up courage that I didn’t know I had, and exclaimed: “Look, isn’t that Lanzarote gorgeous?”

Maybe that’s why I don’t speak in public.

Anyway, away from the embarrassing moments and back to my touristy London experience.

The London Eye was something else entirely – I am not exactly one for heights, however the gleaming glare of tall windows and bright skies enticed me to the top.

The pod was so crowded it was difficult to see outside, even though I was surrounded by glass.

After I managed to snag a spot next to a window pane, I snapped as many pictures as I could before graciously stepping back and letting a small woman take my place and soak in the sights. Y’know, like any decent person would do.

The sights met my tired eyes were incredible.
The clouds were grey and ever-looming and shadowed the city in a dark cast that looked as though it belonged in a modern disaster movie (not the best thing to be thinking about when you are 135 metres above the ground).
The sun was perfectly positioned to ruin my view of Big Ben and Westminster, but do we really need to see more of them?
There were a set of colourful high swings that are barely visible in one of these images (just think ‘oversized colourful thumb tack) which were similar to the ride at the Edinburgh Christmas markets that I went on, by the way. Yeah, I’m as surprised as you are.
I think it’s fair to say at this point, however, that my 15-year-old brother was on this trip with me, and no matter how much he tries to deny it, he was ‘too feart’ to go on the swings with me. Something about not trusting something that high up and that my weight would probably break our swing… hey.
So after our London Eye/trying to keep our breakfast down experience, we ventured out into the walkway bit beside the Thames (upon further research, it’s called ‘The Queen’s Walk… I wonder if she used to walk her corgi there).
We came across a group of Kenyan acrobats, who made an audience (myself included) almost throw up with their ‘legs behind the head’ routines and terrifying front flips.
We then ventured into a Royal Festival Hall while my brother was looking for a toilet, and stumbled across a group of around 200 middle-aged men and women dancing with shaking hands and massive smiles to an impromptu live jazz concert. Neither of us had ever seen live jazz, but this was incredible.
Next on my ‘list of things I absolutely must do when in London’ was Kings Cross Station. Not because of any public transport. But because of the trolley lodged in the brick wall between platforms nine and ten.
The tale of Harry Potter defined my childhood. I grew up with an incessant need to grow my hair to be frizzy and uncontrollable and to have a fat ginger cat that I loved almost more than my studies.
Walking into the little shop dedicated to all things Potter hit me with a feeling that could have reduced me to tears. If I were a wizard, I imagine that this euphoria and sense of accomplishment would feel similar to walking into Hogwarts for the first time.
Armed with my new Slytherin pencil and a massive grin, I left the store, content with the fact that my bank balance still remained intact and that I was feeling 100% more magical than I did when I entered.
My trip was complete – I could go home happy right now.
Darkness settled in very quickly, and by 5pm, not only was it pitch black, but we were well and truly lost. After an hour of trying (and failing) to find a bus stop where our tour bus could pick us up and take us to another cool part of London, we found ourselves giving up and resorting to collapsing in a nearby Burger King, which exceeded my expectations of a ‘dingy and dodgy London’ experience.
Being lost wasn’t all bad – walking around London in the evening with all the shimmering lights and well-wishing party-goers made you feel like a part of the bustling city.
After eventually deciding that a trip on the infamous London Underground was our best point of call (it was every bit as terrifically terrifying as it looks in the movies), we ended up back in Victoria Bus Station at 7pm, with our bus back to Glasgow not due until 11pm. Hm.
More food was on the cards, so one oversized overly-disappointing latte later and we were wondering around the beauty that is Victoria Train Station.
This place was insane – it was genuinely an entire shopping centre in a train station. I think I was overly impressed.
After two agonising hours of waiting, drinking coffee and eating too many doughnuts to count, the bus finally arrived, and our trip to London was over.
TL;DR – I didn’t meet anyone famous and got lost three times, but I did go to Platform 9 & 3/4.

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