Typical Tourists: A Walkabout in London

Friday, August 20th, 2004: London, England

The sun is shining – clouds briefly flit across it, but the umbrellas we carry as we walk southwest from Islington are not used today. Greg says that he has never been to Buckingham Palace, so that is definitely on the agenda.

We stop at Exmouth Market, which like so many former derelict markets has now been rehabilitated and turned into trendy restaurants and boutiques, and have lunch in an original sandwich shop. This doesn’t mean we are restricted to BLTs and club sandwiches – Tito’s Sandwiche Bar has adapted to the changed demographics of the neighbourhood, and despite the downmarket look of the place is selling the latest sandwich stuffings, served by heavily tattooed and pierced young men and women.

“They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace……..”

We continue our walk southwest, through Holborn and along Shaftesbury Avenue into Piccadilly Circus, then along Piccadilly to Green Park and so to Buckingham Palace. This has taken about 5 hours in all, what with stopping here and there. We notice that the gates on the palace side of Green Park all say “Canada”, and wonder why. The gates around the palace are similar in design, but do not say “Canada”. We decide that the only other thing we want to do today is head to the City and see the “Gherkin” up close, so we walk to Victoria Station and grab the tube to the City. The Gherkin is the new office tower, shaped like a zeppelin with its nose tilted up. Standing under it and looking up, it looks almost flat, like an optical illusion. When viewed from a distance, it appears to be the largest tower in London – up close, however, it is startlingly small in comparison to the behemoths of any North American city.

From the City we tube it back to Neil’s, and again cook supper, this time with things we find in the fridge. Then the 3 of us head down to Soho for a couple of Friday night beers before the pubs close at 11.

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