London, Baby! '07

A few photos and impressions from the trip London, April 27th to May 1st, 2007, featuring Mandy and Bernd and myself.

Day 1:

So after almost exactly three years I finally made it back to the UK, and once again to London. I really didn't think it would be that long, after I moved to Paris in June 2004 and hope it won't be that long before I get to go there again.

Didn't take any pictures that day (sorry), but here's what happened on day one: for me the trip started by using the Eurostar for the first time and I must say it really is a pleasant journey, especially compared to flying (as my brother will be delighted to hear ;)), seeing how all the new security theatre measures made it a lot more of a hassle to get from here to there by plane. After arriving at London Waterloo station I was delighted to learn that the weekly passes for the London Transport are now available on chip cards that make them a lot easier to use, i.e. if you're going to London I can only recommend getting one of those oyster cards right away (ask Mandy and Bernd if you don't believe me :D).
I arrived at the Orchard hotel and to meet up with Bernd and Mandy at around 3 pm, and after dropping off my bags we went out to get a late lunch. We ended up having tea & mid-eastern style sandwiches in a café near Edgeware Road which reminded me a lot of last year's trip to Syria.

After the sandwiches we took the Tube to Oxford Circus and walked down Regent's street from there and had a look around in plenty of shops (including a temple, i.e. the Apple Store) but decided to postpone any shopping to the following days.

Later on I met Frank, an old friend I know from the time when he used to work at Pangora in Munich, who very recently moved to London where he now works for Yahoo!. I had not seen him in almost three years, so I enjoyed a lot catching up with him - after a quick tour of Yahoo!'s offices we went for a beer in a pub around the corner and later for dinner in one of the Belgo restaurants (while their website is a nightmare from what hell was in the early days of Flash, the food they serve fortunately is a lot better, i.e. delicious).

Day 2:

There are more pictures from day two, so I'll keep the text shorter. One of the pluses of sharing a hotel room with Bernd is an excellent reminder not to forget packing your own camera since - excellent photographer that he is - he always takes goo dcare of packing his (I have a tendency to forget mine which doesn't get better the older I get...).

Day two saw plenty of things:

This trip's first full English breakfast at Mimo's café (featuring a bunch of Dutch people and a waitress who just loved them),

a visit to Camden Town, Market & Lock, where I was delighted to find that it still is possible to buy (kind of) reasonably priced CDs offline, either used or new, and bought a book on Banksy's work, which I had lots of fun reading

A good long look at Camden Lock and walk along the tow path of Regent's Canal, which brought back a few memories of the boating holidays I did with my family and friends years back (good times...) and across Regent's Park

The shopping mall at Canary Wharf including a very late lunch at Wagamama's and a trip back downtown on the DLR

Ben & Jerry's ice cream and a movie at Leicester Square - we went to see "Shooter" which had a trailer that looked kind of promising, but turned out to be about the worst crap I've seen in quite a while (including, but not limited to movies). Adding insult to injury the tickets cost £12.50 each - once again my apologies for suggesting that movie...

off we goFirst day right before...
...breakfast. What can possibly go wrong after starting the day with a plate like this?breakfast
Camden High StreetAn ordinary Saturday on Camden High Street
Closing in on Camden Lock Mandy and Bernd on Camden High
Lock 17 LogoAlmost where we had a drink
The one and only Camden Lock (ok, technically that's two...)Camden Lock
google mapmaniaOk - I do admit those G00gle guys are good, but this is plain ridiculous.
Finally: drinks...Mandy and cider
Mandy behind vinyl...note the difference? :)
Trust no. 1, Mr. MullerBernd at the bride
stand off in regent's parkChill out in Regent's Park, try 1, which went almost as wrong as...
...try 2lie in in regent's park
Tower at Canary WharfAnd to finish the day off, a quick trip to Canary Wharf
Looking around...
 ...and anticipating an early first dinner.

Day 3:

The third day in a nutshell:

Since Mandy met friends of hers and went to Brighton to see a few bands (three in total, but the only one worth mentioning seemed to be "Shady Bard") Bernd and I started the day late (around noon) with Garfunkel's "All Day Breakfast" followed by a walk along the river Themse, from the Houses of Parliament to the Tate Modern.

Inside the Tate Modern I found out again just how little I know about art - thanks again to Bernd for taking the time to fill in some of the bigger blanks.

Crossing Millenium Bridge we arrived at St.Paul's cathedral, and decided to grab a bite and drink, and so - believe it or not - Bernd had his first ever coffee at Starbucks. His verdict roughly translates to: "...doesn't taste too bad - but this beverage doesn't have anything to do with a cappucino" (I expected worse...).

After a short ride on the tube and having a good long look at Buckingham Palace we moved on to Soho for drinks while we waited for Mandy to return from Brighton and join us for dinner - this time in an Indian restaurant ("The Golden Oven") which turned out to be exactly the kind of tourist trap you'd expect in Soho. Guess you can't always win...

 The London Eye - still turning and yet I could again resist the urge to queue for two hours.
Ah yes - graffiti. Nothing great, but Banksy can't be everywhere.
 Walking along - closing in on the Tate Modern
Nice mix of old & new.
CCTV UK"What are you looking at?":
Yet another of London's countless CCTV cams - they seem to be virtually everywhere. Feels a bit like 1984, only twenty-odd years late (awesome job, Jack...).
This is the official way down to the platform of Tottenham Court Road Underground station. Who would have thought?
 Speaking of ridiculous - the only ones who don't seem to like G00gle are the competition (they do have a point though).

This picture actually is what I currently use as desktop background. In case you're an fan of Ask or in a Google bashing mood or otherwise like the photo too, here it is in a few different sizes: 800x600, 1024x768, 1280x800, 1280x1024 and 1440x960

Day 4:

Day four started about as late as the day before with a visit to Hyde Park which is in walking distance from the hotel we stayed in. Main features were sunbathing at the Round Pond next to Kensington Palace followed by a decent cup of tea and scone with clotted cream at the Orangerie. Guess life doesn't get any more British than that (for me at least...).

Next stop was the Royal Academy of Arts, where we thought about visiting the Monet exposition that really looked like it was worth it, but finally decided he weather was too good to stay inside.

Next stop was once again Oxford & Regent's street, and this time "shopping it was".

We went for dinner at the UKAI restaturant in Bayswater where decent sushi is served, nothing out of the ordinary but still nice ("I've had worse..." :) ).
Since this also seems to be of interest, the restaurant's address is 2 Westbourne Grove, London W2 5RA, tel: 020 7243 3222

 New day, new park, Hyde Park this time.
It's all about perspective.
 This one's for Philippe, who I guess will eventually sell me a watch. Someday.
Then the evening came and brought Sushi, even if there isn't any in that picture.
 ...and one more thing the evening brought were two pints of real ale. Also highly recommended.

Day 5:

We went back to Mimo's café for the this trip's final breakfast, just before heading off to Portobello Road and made sure we checked any of stores at least once, and Mandy was finally able to catch up with Bernd and me in the "damage done to credit card" category.

After a slow walk back through Notting Hill and a little grocery shopping it was already time to pick up our luggage from the hotel and head to the station or airport. Time sure went by quickly...

As I learned a few days later, I did again get the much more relaxing trip home, while I just spent somewhere in between three and four hours on the train and subway, Bernd + Mandy's Easyjet flight was not only late but also came with free food-poisoning :-(.

 Our room with a view (and f*cking noisy street)
Weird smile contest. Guess I won.
 Brighton was two days ago, but Bernd and I were told Brighton was worth a visit.
While I do get that cinemas need to diversify, that mix of films was kind of peculiar...
 Guess who went shopping across the street
For the record: none of those shirts got bought (at least not by any one of us).
 Mr. Müller, at parking 117, Portobello Road, London W-11
And last & least, one for my geek credits account: "I fully agree, but what's parking got to do with it?"
Note: looks like I'm not the only geek out there (surprise!), and so "due to public demand" the full size version of the picture is now available by clicking on it (2048x1536px, 1.5MB)...

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