I am in London, all of a sudden.
I am staying in a hotel that looks like a giant stack of oreos across the Thames from Big Ben/Westminster. I have never been in a hotel this fancy and predictably, I don’t look anything like I’m supposed to be here. The woman who checked me in made extra double sure I meant to book a “superior” room. I said I didn’t know what I booked because the company I was visiting took care of it. Then she looked even more confused because I was dressed like a ruffian fifteen-year-old (airplane attire) and claiming to be on a business trip.
I am here for work, and so there is work I need to do, which is definitely getting in the way of my wandering around London taking pictures of everything. I did take a walk down to the river on a Sunday afternoon to have a gander at Big Ben but I ran into 500 Americans trying to cross the bridge at once, so I turned around and looked for something to eat instead. Not much to eat at a reasonable price in Central London on this side of the Thames, so I went to a fried chicken place across the street from the hotel and grabbed some spicy wings and a soda to go. The same front desk lady looked at me again like “there goes that girl who just dropped $1400 on a hotel room for five nights and now she has a greasy bag of chicken that costs £3.”
Whatever. Haters gonna hate.
The beauty of being in Central London for work is that I can conduct a self guided whirlwind tour just by taking the scenic route to the office in the morning.
The tourists are sleeping, except for me. From the south bank side of Westminster Bridge I cross towards Westminster itself to have a gander at Big Ben, Parliament and the Abbey. I take as many unobstructed photos as my heart desires from both sides of the Thames.
I continue along Birdcage Walk toward Buckingham Palace. Early summer flowers are arranged into color-coded beds across from the Victoria Memorial while the palace does its best to loom, stately but short, beyond the iron gates. Here there are a few people already out and about, but not enough. I feel like the guards are watching me.
A tree-lined walk along the Mall brings me to Trafalgar Square. The fountains are conspicuously off, because of a draught I’m told. I admire the regal lions guarding the National Gallery instead.
Mr. Trafalgar looks down disapprovingly from his sky-high pillar as I abandon the historical square to make time for a coffee before work. I head back towards the river via Northumberland Avenue and make my way across one of the Golden Jubliee Bridges, which provide pedestrian access to Hungerfod Bridge. The futuristic pylons are more interesting lit up at night. By day, a surprising number of commuters are hurrying on foot towards the cluster of office buildings around Waterloo Station.
I sit down to a day of work. Or, if you’re not me, this would be the part where you go into Waterloo Station and take the tube to your next neighborhood.