03 June 2010

Nearly Home

And so, we have been on the last leg of our journey.

We trained it in from Brussels to London on Saturday, and have been lurking around the UK for the last few days. It has been somewhere between a shock and nice to come back to an English-speaking country (if you can decode some of the thicker accents on show), but at the same time, coming back to a Western-civilisation 'Superpower' has brought the point home that our trip is nearly over.

Remind me to discuss my observations on UK and Australia vs the rest of Europe. But that's for another post.

Had the pleasure of catching the Eurostar, under the English Channel - very smooth journey, and a quick, well functioning public transport network is a joy to behold, when it's doing what it is supposed to. I don't think we've had to wait more than about 10 minutes anywhere for a bus or train. After jumping a couple of underground tubes, we were met by Choppy, who has been a brilliant tour guide and host, shown to our quarters at Matt & Cor's house, and then dragged down to the pub for tea. When in Rome, and all that, I headed pretty quickly for bangers & mash, and a pint of Guinness.

Sunday, it was decided that I had far too much energy, and needed to see the sights of London. And the sights we saw! Onto a genuine double-decker red London bus, into town, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, River Thames, Trafalgar Square, St Pauls Cathedral, Camden Markets, Primrose Hill, Regents Park, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, Baker St & Oxford St, Fleet St, Downing St, The Strand... we covered a heap of ground pretty much all on foot, and I seriously wish I had my GPS with me that day - it would have been very interesting to map out how far we trekked. Finished it all off with an Eritrean meal, which was fantastic.

Monday, Matt & Cor (Els & Choppy's brother, and his partner) arrived back from an African Safari (yes, really), and we spent the day catching up with them, visiting their allotment (community veggie garden where people can plant out and maintain a patch for their own use), and visited Belgo's (local chain of Belgian beer and mussel restaurants) for tea.

Tues & Wed, Els and I headed up to Coventry (up in the Midlands) to visit one of her old friends, Ali, and her husband Ant & their two kids. We had a ball - visiting Warwick Castle - which is a Middle-Ages castle that has been restored and opened for viewing. It was a little touristy, but still great fun. There were loads of displays - including a bird of prey display, jousting displays, re-creations of various scenes and rooms within the house, a dungeon (super creepy) and to top it off, firing of a trebuchet. This thing was evil. Think of a massive sling shot, which is spring loaded, and utilises a 6 1/2 tonne counterweight. And it worked super well too - firing a 80 kilogram rock I think a good 300 metres horizontally (and vertically as well). It really packed a punch. Dinner at a Middle-Eastern restaurant, a couple of glasses of wine too many, which seems to have been the standard for this trip. The scales are going to hate me on my return, I'm not sure of the damage, but it is not going to be pretty.

On our return yesterday, did a little more sight seeing around London, including London Bridge (just another bridge really), Tower Bridge (much more impressive), The Tower of London, Brick Lane and so on. Finished the night off with a fantastic Indian meal just off Brick Lane.

And so it is now Thursday. Time to pack, time to get organised, and time to go home.

See you soon...

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