Well, it’s our last night in London. Our last night of the entire vacation, actually, and although we’ve had a great time, I think we’re both ready to be home. Only 12 hours of flight left!
So we got into London (from Nice, France) late (so late) on Friday night (Saturday morning, actually). Now, up to this point everyone we met on our vacation was great. The people in France were extremely nice (and understanding of the fact that we spoke zero French), and likewise for those in Germany and Switzerland. Enter the first (and, actually, I think only) rude person we came across: The UK Customs Officer.
So in our (albeit) limited experience, entering and exiting countries was easy. We show our passports, say “oh, we’re just visiting and enjoying the sights”, and we get to come on in, thank you very much. That’s not, however, how the UK apparently operates. After explaining to the guy that the reasons we had no physical return ticket or hostel reservations were because neither of those companies required us to have them to check in/out (just a passport/ID to confirm), and that none of the other countries we visited had required us to have these documents, so we didn’t think/know that it would be a problem, we were given a reply SIMILAR (but not exactly, because it is Monday night and this was on Friday, remember?) to this:
“Well this is the UK, yeah? And to enter the UK, yeah?, you are required to satisfy a customs official, yeah?, that the reasons you give for entering the country match the actual reasons you are entering the country, yeah? And what you are telling me, yeah?, is that you’re tourists, YEAH?, but you don’t have any proof of hostel reservations or a return airplane ticket, YEAH?, so basically you are failing to meet the requirements for entry, YEAH?
He did let us in in the end, though, but not before putting a flag on our names in the system, so that during any future attempts by us to enter the UK our customs official will be sure to check for a return ticket, and we may be stopped if we do not have one. Apparently we tourists are are a dangerous sort of people. (Still, the fact that he let us in anyway, and told us that we only “may” be stopped in the future tells me that he was just being a bit of a grumpy jerk.)
Anyway, we found our way (in the rain) from the airport to our hostel. The taxis here, by the way, are great. As are the rail (tube) systems.
So over the next few days, we saw the London sights. Big Ben, Parliament, The Tower Bridge, The Tower of London, Trafalgar Square, and any other capitalized attractions that might be lingering around. We ate fish & chips, we bought tacky London souvenirs, we drank pre-canned gin and tonic (mainly me), and we spent a lot of time looking up at things older than our own country.
On Monday (today) we met up with a friend (Lauren V!) for dinner (more fish & chips, mmmm) before going to the Globe Theatre (Theater) to see Much Ado About Nothing (another parenthesis!). We opted for the cheap groundling tickets, because we were after the experience of standing for hours until our feet, legs, and backs scream on the outside, and our brains scream on the inside. The play was great! The actors were brilliant and they really played with the audience, which I think was one of the merits of having three floors of people sitting so close to the stage. It was really cool, and I’m very glad we bought the tickets, but next time maybe we’ll opt for actual seats.
So we leave tomorrow, to go back home. London was definitely one of my favorite places to visit on this whole vacation. It’s a big city, but it really doesn’t feel that way – apart from the times when you’re fighting through the throngs of people trying to get a glimpse of Buckingham Palace – and it’s managed to stay pretty (unlike Berlin).
If I had to pick a few favorite things that we did in London, they’d be walking across the Tower Bridge, seeing the play at the Globe, walking across the Millennium Pedestrian Bridge (I love bridges, apparently), and just wandering around. Honestly, the best thing you can do in a place like this is to just pick a street and walk down it. You don’t really need to worry about being lost, because eventually you’ll either hit the river, or a tube station.
So yeah. Great place. And even though I feel like this post was a little cut short, phoned in, clipped, just because, or whatever favorite phrase you have for “quickly written garbage”, it was still a necessary addition. See you soon!