The walk along the Thames was so nice and encouraged us, that we can still have the opportunity to occasionally go out and have some fun. Therefore, we did another day trip, but this time to the city centre. Yes, you heard right. We were just super curious to see how it’s like, if there were many people, lots of security or police, and so on. Elina was visiting a friend in Hyde Park. Therefore, Ilya and I decided to go on our own.
We took the bus to the city and hopped off at Hyde Park corner. There were actually more people than I expected. However, compared to the regular times in London, it wasn’t busy at all. To that time, there were obviously mostly locals going for a run and cycling around. So many cyclists! You can’t even imagine. Anyway! The first thing catching your eye when arriving at Hyde Park corner is Wellington Arch. It stands just pretty random there, but definitely looks cool. I felt kind of awkward when I tried to take a picture with my camera, because there weren’t any tourists around doing so. And honestly, considering the circumstances at that time, it didn’t feel so right to behave like a tourist. I mean, you weren’t even really allowed to go out. Therefore, I tried not to take a picture of every single little thing I was walking by, especially not if security or police was around. And that strategy worked perfectly, I have to admit. We walked through Wellington Arch and the following alley before we reached Buckingham Palace. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it so empty over there. Otherwise, everything seemed quite normal. The guards were standing there and changing position as usual.
From Buckingham Palace, we walked through St. James’s Park. It’s quite a small area. However, you can still find there a pond and animals you wouldn’t expect to find in a British park. We actually saw some pelicans! Most importantly, I enjoy walking through St. James’s Park, because it connects Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey. The location is just perfect. It creates a completely different atmosphere and gives you the feeling of being in nature, although you are in the city centre of London. Around Westminster Abbey, tourists are usually lining up to take a picture with a red telephone cell. It is funny that England is associated with red telephone cells and red busses. Who on earth is using a telephone cell nowadays? No one! They are not used at all but work perfectly as a tourist attraction. Because this time, no one was lining up, I just had to take a picture as a stereotypical memory. Big Ben was still under construction.
And then, we already reached the Thames. I really like cities on the water, whether it be on a lake, a river or the sea. It gives a nice atmosphere, creates a beautiful scenery and just connects everything. Furthermore, it is much easier to orientate yourself. For London, I have the attractions in mind, depending on where they are located on the river. First comes Big Ben, then London Eye, St. Pauls Cathedral, Millennium Bridge, Tate Modern, Borough Market, London Bridge, Tower Bridge and so on. And that’s almost the way we followed. We already saw London Eye when we walked by Big Ben. Honestly, I do not know why London Eye is considered as such a big attraction. It’s just a Ferris wheel! But well. Still cool, somehow. On our way to St. Paul’s Cathedral, we came by a little courtyard where we made a break, luxury hotels such as the Savoy, a couple of statues, interesting buildings and small parks. It was so sad seeing businesses, especially hotels and restaurants, closed. They really had and still have a hard time. But let’s look at the positive sides. We really enjoyed walking on the river promenade.
Good timing! Then when we arrived at St. Paul’s Cathedral, we both felt like eating lunch. We ordered some Poke Bowls online. They got delivered within 15 minutes. However, first I received the wrong order. It was really funny. I went to the driver, told him my name, but received Chinese take away. Luckily, I noticed the mix up before he was gone. A couple of minutes later, another girl came asking for her delivery. And guess what, she was also called “Anna”. Too funny! My delivery guy was just standing a few metres next to us! Unluckily, we forgot to order cutleries. Haha Ilya literally wanted us to eat the bowl with our hands! But no way! We didn’t even bring hand sanitizer with us. Therefore, we ordered some spring rolls and dumplings at a Chinese restaurant nearby, where we just walked by to pick the food up. And here we had our chopsticks. It was quite cool sitting on the gras, in the sun, right next to the huge cathedral. Quite a unique experience, I have to say.
Already at that time, I was trying to search a bathroom. But no chance! Restaurants and shops were closed, public toilets locked and even those disgusting toilet boxes were closed. Argh! It was a struggle. But I was convinced I could make it. Haha! As we couldn’t find a bathroom, we continued our journey. We walked across Millennium bridge, walked along the river, came by London Bridge and continues walking until we reached Tower Bridge. Omg! There were so many people just sitting tight on tight on a tiny grass place, drinking beer, chatting and eating. Without mask or anything! I was shocked. How can that be allowed? We walked by with the biggest distance possible. When we crossed Tower Bridge, we saw quite a few police officers. It didn’t seem like they did care at all about the behaviour of people. Insane!
And that’s the time when Ilya decided that he wants to try Bubble Tea for the first time. I still haven’t found a toilet. Therefore, drinking a big cup of tea might have not been the best thing to do. But I just had to! Especially because the Bubble Tea shop was the only business around that was open. Also, we haven’t drank much the entire day! The Bubble Tea was yummy, and it was so funny to see his reaction when chewing on the boba. Not sure if it’s going to be his favourite on earth. But I guess, you always have to give things a try.
We finished our drinks at the Tower of London. Afterwards, we headed straight to the subway. We felt like we were in a ghost town. No people at all! We were the only ones! Crazy! And kind of creepy. Unfortunately, we had to change tube one time. I really really had to pee. It was so bad. Kind of embarrassing to write about it. But I mean, it was how it was. Terrible! When we were waiting for the next tube, which of course was delayed, I just couldn’t anymore. I had to call an Uber! I even asked the security if they could open the toilets at the subway. But no, they didn’t even think about it! The Uber drive back was one of the most exhausting, painful and funniest drives I’ve experienced. Ilya tried to give me moral support. Looking back, it was too funny! He is still reminding me of that situation all the time. Well! Luckily, I can report that we both made it safe and dry back to campus! It was already 6pm. I don’t think he ever seen me running that fast to my dorm!
So, what do we learn from that day? You can go to city during lockdown and have an amazing day. However, don’t drink 1 litre water at breakfast, eat lunch and drink bubble tea when you know that you will not find a bathroom for 8 hours! Overall, I absolutely enjoyed that sunny day in London with Ilya. We saw the beautiful city without big crowds of tourists, had delicious food and good talks. I wished I could fly back immediately. Sooner or later, I will!