Topshop! Until a few days ago, I didn’t know this chain of stores existed. Not too much of a shock I guess, most of my clothes are bought in men’s wear shops. That said, I didn’t know that Topmen existed either. But now I do. Oh, the tings you can learn in London.
Anniken and I went there last weekend with her parents and her brother. Considering the headlines lately, flying to London might not sound like the brightest of ideas: After the British government warned that their citizens shouldn’t visit Paris because terrorists might blow them to very tiny pieces, the French issued a statement telling everyone to stay the hell out of London for the same reasons. Legitimate warning or just pissed of Frenchies? I don’t know.
Personally, I didn’t see or hear a single terrorist the three days we were in London. The city was crowded as usual, the tube worked great when it worked and getting around was a bitch when it didn’t. In Transport of London’s defense, I should probably point out that some of the problems were caused by scheduled maintenance and someone having a heart attack. But we also had to battle signal failure, something I thought the Norwegian National Rail Administration had patented years ago – Googling “signalfeil jernbaneverket” (Norwegian for “signal failure Norwegian National Rail Administration”) will give you almost 40.000 hits.
We flew from Ryanair’s Norwegian hub, Rygge, early Friday morning. I’ve only been on a Ryanair plane once before, way back in 2004 (NSFW)1, and after that brief visit to Aviation Hell, I swore I would never again, enter the fuselage of an Irish airplane. But now I stand corrected, and to be honest, the flight was not that bad this time around. They’ll still try to make you purchase the weirdest things – scratch cards – but at least the flight attendants didn’t use the PA system to describe every single item in their tax free cart. I even managed to sleep a little.
After landing, taking the Standsted Express to Liverpool Street Station and being evacuated from said station – maybe the French had a point – we took a cab to our hotel, the London Marriott Hotel Maida Vale2. It was a rather nice hotel in Kilburn Park, which I imagine is a very typical London suburb. Of course I know nothing about London suburbs, or if Kilburn Park is even considered one, so I might be wrong. After check in, the girls focused mainly on shopping, while us gentlemen decided to widen our intellectual horizon with a visit to the British Museum. Very fascinating and very cheap, since it was free.
I almost did a little bit of shopping myself, when I almost bought the all the seasons of The Wire, almost bought season 13 of The Simpsons and almost bought The Pacific. “Almost” because I’m a cheap bastard. Also, when I got home, I realized that HMV was charging more or less the same as their Norwegian equivalent, Platekompaniet, so it looks like I didn’t really miss out on any special deals. When it comes to The Wire, I’ve never actually watched a complete episode, but I’ve heard a lot of good things about it. Recommendable? Please leave a comment if you have an opinion.
As all good Norwegians out traveling, we quickly fell into a pattern: Breakfast at a nearby Starbucks, public transportation to downtown London, shopping or museum visit, lunch, a little more shopping (or almost-shopping in my case), back to the hotel, a quick shower and change into new clothes, back to downtown London for dinner and drinks, and then all the way back to the hotel again.
All in all, it was a great trip – what surprised me the most about London was how cheap it actually was to live and dine. I’d imagined it being a lot more expensive, but that’s probably just because I live in Oslo, a city that keeps on being one of the most expensive cities to live in. London was also pleasantly hot compared to the blistering cold that met us when we got back to the land of polar bears and reindeer.
I brought a camera with me and for once Anniken and I actually took a lot of pictures. Here are a few highlights…ish:
Fun fact about these pictures: They were all shot with a Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS, the camera I bought last summer before Anniken and I went to Spain. It took a lot of research to find the right compact camera, but in the end I’m quite pleased with the Canon: The quality is not too bad, considering its tiny, tiny housing and lens. Great buy. I know I promise to pictures from our Spanish adventures so you could look at the image quality, but since that never happened, I hope these shots serve the same purpose.