Hosting Opera's Backstage event.
- Heading down into the underground system. The underground is an essential part of the London experience, weaving past buskers, and getting around the city as fast as possible.
- Warped perception.
- Affectionately known as "The Tube", London Underground is the World's oldest and most extensive underground railway system. It is certainly not the best, with regular problems with delays on major routes (typically the circle line), but at just £10, this whole trip was done in two days. Pick up day passes for zones 1-3 if you want to do the same.
- As bad as it gets? Perhaps. This is a train on the Circle line - the busiest line, but this is before rush hour, so it is not as bad as it could be. Some of the other lines carry just a few people per carriage.
- A typical tube station - Piccadilly Circus.
- Up one of many.
- One of the larger tube stations. This is the upper floor of the Canary Wharf tube station. Under the floor are the platforms, in a chamber almost the same size again. Considering what is on the surface above here, it is impressive to have such a large hole underground.
- Trafalgar Square, with the all-important Nelson's Column (famous for the "I see no ships" mis-quote, and for headlocks, or something). The square itself is normally popular, both with tourists, and pigeons. The latter were attracted by the small children who like nothing better than to throw food for disease infested flying rats. After some successful campaigns using peregrine falcons, the pigeons have gone. The tourists, however, remain.
- Buckingham Palace. One of the most famous landmarks, and home (one of many) of the Royal Family. It's actually quite boring considering what it is. Not elegant, just big. The fence is nice though ;)
- The royal coat of arms on the gates to the palace. See, I told you the fence was nice.
- The roundabout outside the palace, with the Victoria memorial. Most residents are not particularly interested in royalty - they generally serve only to entertain the tourists - those of us that live in the UK have a democratic government instead. However, if you are interested, the roads here are red, as are all roads near royal accommodation - simulating a red carpet.
- Looking at the palace from St. James's Park. It actually looks quite good from this direction.
- The park is home to squirrels that are so tame, they will take food from your hands.
- Lastly the park is also home to several pelicans.
- Just down the road is the city-within-a-city of Westminster. This is Westminster Abbey.
- The way in, where they charge £10 to see the inside. Well, churches are all about making money, after all. This one has the graves of a few important people, such as Sir Isaac Newton (he invented gravity to keep his cider from floating into space), and Charles Darwin (he invented evolution so we would hopefully grow a third eye in a few generations).
- Just down the road are the Houses of Parliament - once the palace of Westminster, it is a magnificant building, filled with a load of children who like to waste time, argue, and insult each other under the disguise of 'the right honourable gentleman'.
- Detail on the roof of the Houses of Parliament.
- A national icon; Big Ben is the 96 metre clock tower on the end of the Houses of Parliament (strictly speaking it is the name of the bell in the clock tower, but who cares).
- Built purely to entertain tourists, the London Eye was made from a giant bike wheel that was left behind when someone stole the rest of the bike. The saddle was made by British Airways. No I cannot be bothered to tell you the truth. It's just too artificial, and out of place. It looks utterly stupid and should be destroyed. But hey, London is London. Whatever.
- A short way down the river is the Tower Of London. This is easily one of the best places to visit in the city, being one of the best preserved castles in the UK, and is still in use as a working castle. It needs a whole day to be worthwhile. The castle has many brutal stories of the British past, as well as housing the (*yawn*) crown Jewels, and being home to the important ravens.
- The Tower of London seen from the other side of the river, showing its many layered walls and multiple towers. In the background is the phallic tower that is sometimes referred to as "The Gherkin", but known more commonly by alternative names relating to its shape. To the left of it is another tower that was once the tallest building in Britain.
- In the middle of the Tower of London is the White Tower, probably the best known part of it.
- Another national icon; Tower Bridge is attached to the edge of the Tower of London, and is easily one of the most recognisable structures in London. It is designed to open in the middle, and does so whenever a large ship needs to pass underneath.
- Supports on the Tower Bridge. The Tower Bridge is often mistakenly referred to as "London Bridge" although that is actually a little further up the river. London Bridge was sold to an American, and it is often claimed that he intended to buy the Tower Bridge instead, but got the names mixed up.
- Canary Wharf is a business district a little to the east of London centre. It is home to the three tallest buildings in the UK; One Canada Square, the HSBC Tower, and the Citigroup Centre.
- One Canada Square, at just over 235 metres tall, is the tallest building in the UK. It is usually just called Canary Wharf.
- Citigroup Centre, in joint second place, at just under 200 metres.
- Beneath giants.
- Seen from Greenwich. One Canada Square is tall enough to be seen from 25 miles away. So tall, it has even snagged a passing cloud. Ok, so it was a low cloudbase, but it still snagged it, ok!
- Canary Wharf at night.
- The Millenium Dome. Just giving it such a nauseating name made it destined to fail. They tried to rename it, but nobody cares. It was built for no reason at all, except to be the World's biggest tent, holding the record for the largest single roofed structure, at 365 metres in diameter (the number has a significance, but really, we don't care!). It's claims to fame are its fantastic public failure, and its appearance in a James Bond film.
- It was made for a stupendous (or just stupid) price of £789 million, far beyond initial estimates. It became a phenomenal flop, and very quickly went out of business. Several attemps have been made to resurect it, but it is still a complete failure, referred to as Blair's Folly. All those busses you see are taking people from Greenwich to the Dome, but only so they can get to the underground station, not to the eyesore itself.
- Greenwich is serviced by the Docklands Light Railway (DLR). This is run as part of the underground, but spends a lot of its time on elevated railways above the streets.
- The Maritime museum in Greenwich, with Canary Wharf in the background, and Greenwich Park in the foreground.
- In the middle of Greenwich Park is the Royal Observatory. Greenwich is famous for the fact that it lies directly on the Prime Meridian of the World (longitude 00°00'00"), and is internationally recognised for both that, and the fact that it lends its name to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), the timezone that the rest of the world uses as a reference for their local timezones.
- The Prime Meridian, looking directly North.
- Of course, this attracts tourists from all over the world (yes, just to look at an arbitrary line drawn on the ground, but it is an important line that we all use). Not one of the people I saw there was speaking in any nationally British language.
- The Cutty Sark in Greenwich. This is one of the very famous clippers (fast, multi-masted sailing ships), but does not really have much reason to be famous. But hey, it's here, and so was I.
- Have another.
Natural History Museum
- A large, ornate building in South Kensington is the Natural History Museum.
- The entrance hall shows off the beautiful architecture of the building, but let's face it, this museum is famous for a reason, and that is it's impressive dinosaur skeleton collection.
- Most importantly, this complete, and very impressive, 25 metre diplodocus skeleton that runs the entire length of the entrance hall. Sauropods are definitely my favourites, and short (or not) of a brachiosaurus, diplodocus is about as close as you can get to my personal ideal. What a welcome.
- Smile for the camera. This is the skeleton that was originally incorrectly mounted with its tail dragging instead of being elevated.
- A giant ground sloth. These are mammles, not dinosaurs, sorry. Fear not, I shall get back to them.
- And another.
- Heading back towards dinosaurs, this is an opthalmosaurus.
- And getting even closer, this is a plesiosaur.
- Camarasaurus, a smaller relative of the diplodocus - only (!) 17 metres long, and 25 tons.
- Triceratops - my childhood favourite.
- An iguanadon, named because the spiked thumb was originally thought to be on its nose, like an iguana's. This particular example is mounted upright, although it would normally be on all-fours, except when running or reaching. The tail of this skeleton is broken to allow it to stand (incorrectly) upright.
- In a more normal pose.
- Allosaurus, one of the more common carnivores.
- Albertosaurus, part way between an allosaur and a tyrannosaur.
- A young (and small) stegosaurus, showing its trademark back plates, tail spikes, and abnormally small head.
- A rare and beautifully preserved tyrannosaurus skull, next to his lunch; triceratops.
- The child frightener, with a human on the walkway for scale. End of the dinosaurs, sorry.
- The usual suspects for scale...
- ...next to a complete model of a blue whale, taking up almost a whole wing of the museum.
- Whale skeletons, with a grey whale near the camera, and a blue whale at the top. Some dolphins are at the end for scale.
This gallery is incomplete due to time constraints. See next year's gallery for more pictures.
Well, this was why we were here, after all :)