We arrived in Victoria station. It was just as I remembered. Pigeons milling about under the Weatherspoons sign, fast food sushi, people everywhere walking every which way, signs and trains and rumbles from the underground. I wanted to get rid of our bags and go fill myself up with this fabulous town, so we headed down to the tube to get towards West Kensington. We crashed into the mob waiting at the barriers, watching London Transport workers edging around. Eventually they announced there was no District line service due to “an intruder on the tracks” whatever that means.
Fabulous. I’ve been in this town for ten minutes and already have visions of suicide bombers dancing in my head. I’m not overly comfortable on the tube anyway. When you’re shooting through a tunnel at speed and the lights flicker or go off and you’re so deep underground you know if you had to get out in a hurry you’d have a hard time of it. Or when the train stops for a while in a dark tunnel without explanation and you’re left to wonder what’s going on, even if it’s just waiting for another train on the tracks ahead it’s still a little nerve-racking, I’m not gonna lie. But it is a brilliant system. The fact that they have built this whole little world under the ground amazes me.
Either way, we imagined that taking a Hackney cab would cost us a pure bomb, so a bus would be the best way to go. Luckily the bus stand over the road sends buses just about everywhere so with some guidance from a lovely man who knew where everything was, we got on a bus to Kensington High St and then another that was meant to take us to West Kensington so we could find our hostel. So I’m looking around and we’re heading towards Notting Hill and Kilburn and Kensal Green and I’m thinking this is an awfully round about way, going north to go west. As it turns out, we should have gotten on a bus going the other way but no matter, we had a lovely tour about and eventually got there.
The hostel was really nice, and for what we were paying we really couldn’t complain. There was a big back garden with a hot tub, internet access and all sorts. It was a bit clinical feeling though, all white and metal, keycard access through every door and a strict check out it seemed a bit uptight but still nice. It was just down the street from West Kensington tube but a little too far that we couldn’t just walk into central London, at least, I don’t think so. When we asked at the desk if the tube was back running the girl figured it was a jumper. “Happens all the time…” Lovely. But I’m sure she was right, sadly, it probably does.
We headed off to Westminster, wandered around, saw the Abbey and the Big Ben tower and all that touristy stuff. Through Buckingham Palace an St. James’ Park. I’ve seen it all before but I really like watching someone whose never been there take the whole place in. It’s just mind blowing that all of this is packed into one city.
We walked around the river, along the south bank, where they were holding a book market of all things. Saw the Globe theatre and walked across the Millennium Bridge which has a glass floor, towards St. Paul’s. It wasn’t until we were just about on the steps that we realized the facade had been covered by a giant picture as they were doing work on it. They’d covered it so as not to spoil the photo. How thoughtful.
Sadly, not a bird woman in sight, though plenty of people perched on the steps reading the paper. And what better place for it.
We walked up the Strand, passed a pub with it’s after work patrons spilling out onto the street. Walked through Piccadilly Circus, past all the theatres, through bits of Chinatown and Soho, and hopped on the tube back to the hostel to get changed.
We landed back in Soho, found a little italian restaurant and ate dinner upstairs with wine and olives and a gorgeous bowl of lemon pasta. We wandered around Soho for ages just loving the lights and the commotion, I was in search of a little cobbled bit full or strip clubs and brothels but could not for the life of me, find it. We even rang Shane, sure that he’d know but no answer. Bugger. Stopped in a little cafe quite late on Old Compton Street full of gorgeously camp men and lovely ladies. Had some white chocolate cheesecake and some tea. Jumped on a bus back to the hostel, listening to an animated girl with a gap in her front teeth and crazy curly hair speak to her friend in Swahili.