Friday, October 06, 2006

Thursday Tourist Highlight

Buckingham Palace

I made my way south from the hotel to see Buckingham Palace. Kept to the little streets as much as possible, because they're not crowded and also prettier.

At one point I saw a construction worker struggling to hoist some bricks up a rope on a pulley. A woman in business attire, walking by, stopped to help him. They pulled and pulled, and she never put down her enormous purse. When the bricks reached the top, a man came along to grab them. When he saw the woman who had helped, he shouted something down and all three laughed. See, Londoners are nice.

But not always. I got shoved into the street several times walking along Oxford on Wednesday. There are people here and there (I can spot them now) who are simply not going to alter their course. Feeling a little fed up, I body-checked one of them and haven't had any problems since. I guess word got around.

The palace itself was interesting, I suppose. I sure took lots of pictures of it, at any rate. There were quite a lot of people gathered around the gates. They do the Changing of the Guard every other day at 11:30, and although it was 11:15 when I got there, it wasn't a day where they did the ceremony.

There weren't any redcoated soldiers with enormous Q-tip hats. Just a guy with a machine gun. I decided not to see if he was allowed to respond to any antics I might want to try.

It's mostly on the Flickr page. Gates, statues, flowers, fountains and the crowd itself. So there isn't much to add.

Apparently, 30% of London is parks and greenery, so I made my way slowly back through Green Park, which is the third or fourth huge-ass park I've stumbled into since arriving. It's very big, and very pretty. Lots of clover and big knotty trees. They also have deck chairs you can sit in (£2 for four hours) but benches, while rarer, are free.

Stopped for an hour or so at a cafe on Piccadilly and watched London scuttle around. Pigeons swooped down every time someone left a table with any food on it. The staff kept trying to shoo them away, but weren't equal to the task. A cluster of four of them ate for several minutes off of the table next to mine, and then looked like they might fight me for my roll. But I emerged victorious.

On the way back, I walked along Saville Row (rhymes with "gravel," not "DeVille") where the Beatles used to have suits made. And a lot of other people. I arrived on the street just as "Dedicated Follower of Fashion" came up on my iPod, which was kind of cute. They still have tailors along here, and lots of little boutiques where a scarf costs roughly $200, and the staff knew immediately that I wasn't going to buy anything. One guy was nice enough to open a £69 umbrella for me, so I could see how wide it was when opened. I clucked something encouraging and left the store. It was nice enough, but I already bought a £2 umbrella, with which I'm quite satisfied.

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