The London entry is way overdue. I’ve been so tired lately at the lab trying to finish off some experiments before I head back to France, that all I want to do when I get home is lay there immobilized. I have been slightly worried about the progress of my work, but there is really no point in worrying about it at this point. I have a little more than a week here, so I’ll do what I can. After all, I will be coming back, eventually.
So, London. This is the second city that I visited without anything prejudgments or expectations, the first being Berlin. I anticipated grandeur and romance in Paris, peace and modesty in Bruges, simplicity and mystery in Luxembourg. Indeed, nothing ever turns out exactly as expected. When you set your expectations low, you may be pleasantly surprised by hidden gems – great! However, when you set your expectations too high (either due to public hype or a typical image that has been implanted in your head for way too long), there is often disappointment, the best example being Paris, for me.
Of course, because I had friends in both Berlin and London to show me around, I saved the time of researching where to go when I got there. As a result, I had absolutely no idea what to look forward to before I arrived, which was a good thing because it rid my mind of certain points of bias, and everything was a surprise.
I took the Eurostar from Brussels to London, my third experience with high-speed trains after TGV and Thalys. Getting into the UK was a hassle, even as a Canadian with a French residence permit. I thought it qualified me as a “EU citizen”, but I was sadly mistaken when the border patrol asked me to fill out a form on the side and re-enter the line up. The entire process of passport and security checks is longer and more thorough than if I were at an airport. However, I did get my passport stamped, the first time it’s happened, in fact, after my first stamp in Iceland when I entered Europe for the first time last September.
I’ll be honest and say I liked London, for the most part. A lot of it reminded me of Hong Kong, but it really should be the other way around. It is not surprising that Hong Kong is very similar to London in many aspects, seeing how it was under British rule for almost a century. It is also interesting to note that London is the first city I’ve been in (I can’t remember if South Bend was one) where absolutely everything was in English. Even in Canada you have English AND French everywhere. I grabbed a bottle of ketchup in London, looked at the label, and saw nothing but English. Grand.
Well, let’s go on with the photos and I’ll explain some details of the trip as we go on. More pics on Facebook.
My friend and I headed here as soon as I got off the train at 9pm, because of course she knew I loved city night views. No, this is not London Bridge. It is the Tower Bridge of London, something straight out of a fairy tale. Walking on it during the night gave me a feeling of being truly in a story book, where princes and princesses live in castles, happily ever after. I guess that’s what the whole royal wedding thing is trying to portray, though I never understood what was the big deal…