Monsooned in London

June 19, 2011 at 4:06 am Leave a comment

I don’t want to take too much time to blog this morning, since I want to take full advantage of the nice day (especially after yesterday), but I figured I could share a few photos and ramble just a bit.

Yesterday, I played tour guide for most of the other students in my class—Heather, Ukaisha, Dustin, and Tim. We started at Trafalgar Square, where they were having a festival called West End Live. We went in, since it was free, and I got to see a couple of numbers from Chicago! I’ve never seen that show live, so that was rad!

Chicago at Trafalgar Square
It was funny to hear the folks on stage yelling the name of our city. There were also some booths in the back, and a couple of folks got their photos with a Storm Trooper. Also Johnny Depp. But not real Johnny Depp, just a guy dressed up as Jack Sparrow.

We then walked down Whitehall towards Parliament and Westminster Abbey, through some intermittent drizzle. Twice, it was steady enough that I had to put my camera away, but never for more than 10 minutes, so we didn’t worry too much about the rain.

Women of WWI Memorial
Whitehall Street (Road? Avenue?) has TWO war memorials in the centre of it. Here’s one, just for Jules!

Protest and the Eye
Across the street from the Prime Minister’s Residence, a group was staging a protest. It took us a few minutes to make out the signs (so I’m not sure the signs were super effective), but they were protesting tyranny in Sudan. A good thing to protest. The ferris wheel (or “thing,” if you’re Amber) is the London Eye, which is on the south bank of the Thames and is really, really, really tall. It would be cool to take photos from the top of it, but I don’t think I have the guts to do it, or the interest in paying $30 for the privilege of feeling terrified!

Big Ben
So we finally made it to the Palace of Westminster, where Parliament is housed, and Big Ben! Blue skies!

…only not for long. We were standing at the opposite end of Parliament when the weather went from zero to monsoon in 60 seconds or less. It was raining so hard and we were all huddled under my purse-sized umbrella and Ukaisha’s rain jacket that we were at a loss for what to do. Tim suggested running “inside,” meaning into Parliament, but unfortunately, that wasn’t an option, as we hadn’t thought ahead to apply for passes in case we were caught in a monsoon just outside the door!

So we finally ran back towards the next nearest building (which wasn’t really that near), and it actually hailed for a few seconds as we were waiting for the light to change so that we could cross the street. I was drenched, but at least I got my camera inside my purse, which repelled the water really well. So glad that I invested in a good bag!

We then decided to take the Tube to Bond Street, since I remembered that the station was attached to a little indoor mall. I was hoping that we could find somewhere to eat without having to go outside, but the group was in the mood for a pub, and the Bond Street station shopping centre only had fast food. By then, though, the rain had let up, so we wandered a bit until we stumbled upon Bond’s, on a side street between Oxford and Bond. It rained a bit more while we were inside, so we took a leisurely afternoon meal, then headed back to the hotel to rest and change out of our squelchy socks.

I decided that I wanted to try getting sunset photos of Parliament from the south bank, and stormy days often follow up with great sunsets. Unfortunately, I napped a little too long and popped out of the Tube too far up the river. So it took me about 15-20 minutes to walk to the right spot and by then, I’d almost missed sunset. I’m going to try again for tonight, but for now, I’m pretty happy with this HDR photo of the Palace of Westminster, Westminster Bridge, and the Thames. I chose to go HDR with this image because it was hard to expose the building well and maintain the dramatic sunset light, since the sun was so low in the sky.

Palace of Westminster at Sunset

Today, in the many hours before sunset, when I will arrive at the Thames much earlier than I did yesterday, I’m planning on exploring as much of the city as I can, since it’s a day without rain in the forecast! One of our assignments is to wander through Notting Hill, where I hope to stumble upon Hugh Grant in his travel bookshop. I’m also itching for a museum day, but that might be best saved for a day with more inclement weather. Depending on what the sky looks like, I might just stay outside and try to hit all the major sights for photos with my polarizer.

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Entry filed under: England, Europe, London, Photos, United Kingdom.

London 2011! Back at St. Paul’s

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A serial road tripper chronicles her adventures.

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