Day 5: Tuesday, November 3
Tuesday was a day Steven and I were largely on our own, and we decided to just walk around. I can highly recommend wandering around London with someone you love. It was a great way to experience the city.
We didn’t have much in the way of specific destinations in mind, but Steven wanted to check out BBC Broadcasting House, so instead of jumping on our beloved Tube, we set out on foot in that general direction. Of course, one of the first landmarks we encountered was the ever-present, ever-looming WOTAN.
Steven needed his daily dose of coffee, so we stopped at a Pret A Manger on the way. I didn’t notice you had to ask for an extra shot to make it what I call “normal”-strength, so I walked away with a disappointingly weak latte. We did not go back to one for the rest of the trip.
We were surprised how quickly we found ourselves at BBC Broadcasting House. There’s an awful lot of stuff packed within very walkable distance in London!
Inside, we chatted with the clerk at the gift shoppe. He said he’d heard of Radio Free Skaro! (Though he said he’d never listened. Nor had he heard of Verity!) We bought a few things (including refrigerator magnets and an enamel pin for my TARDIS bag). And, of course, we took the obligatory I-was-at-the-BBC pics.
After that, we didn’t have anywhere we needed to be for hours and hours so we decided to pick a likely-looking street and set out for adventure! That adventure took us past a McDonald’s. What better adventure than to compare the UK version of our favorite fries to the Canada/US ones. Turns out, they’re pretty much the same. Yummy.
After that, we simply wandered, picking streets based on how nifty they looked as we passed them by. Many of the streets had shiny/sparkly decorations hanging over them. I do find it hard to resist shiny and/or sparkly things.
Eventually we realized we weren’t too far from Piccadilly Circus, which is a place I’d heard of, but didn’t really know what it was. I didn’t think it was an actual dancing-bears-and-clowns-and-elephants circus, but I thought it was important to check it out and be certain. It was not. What it was, was a bunch of activity, lights and screens, a boarded-up fountain, and a tube stop.
After all that hustle and bustle, we stumbled upon Soho Square, which was the perfect calm counterpoint to the energetic walking we’d been doing all morning. It was like stepping from one world into another. We found a little island of peace and quiet in the middle of the city, and it felt like magic. We walked around the square once, then sat on a bench and listened to the pigeons for a long while. ‘Twas just the balm my soul needed.
At that point in the afternoon, we were in need of sustenance for our bodies, not just our souls. We pulled out our phones to see what food options we had in the neighborhood. We ended up heading back over to Oxford Street, where we had our first Nando’s experience. We’d heard about Nando’s repeatedly from several friends and had to check it out for ourselves. It was great, but I think we were both a little baffled by the intense love it gets from some quarters.
As I said though, it was a great experience. There were multiple vegetarian options for Steven (something that’s always tricky when travelling). He had a portobello wrap, which he happily devoured. I’m a fan of dark-meat chicken, and I’ve gotta hand it to Nando’s, they know how to cook a chicken! It was juicy and delicious. We split peri-peri fries, which we slathered in the herb peri peri sauce. I do love me some french fries with a good sauce to dip them in. Steven loved the spicy rice and the mashed potatoes (while I found both to be mediocre at best–admittedly, I’m much pickier about food than he is). All in all, it was a solidly good meal, the service was super-friendly and helpful to two foreigners who didn’t know how the place worked, and it served to keep us going for most of the rest of the day.
After stuffing ourselves, we walked past the College Arms to see where it was. Our local Doctor Who meet-up would be happening there in a couple nights, so we wanted to know how to get to it. We also randomly found the BFI on the way–and a Warhammer store, which was how I discovered Games Workshop had rebranded their stores. I guess I’ve been out of the games-store circle for a while.
All that ambling let us needing a good rest, so we headed back to the hotel for a nap. I didn’t nap, of course. I’m a lousy napper. But I gave it a good try.
The only scheduled event we had that day was a movie date with James Bond! We hopped the tube for the Odeon Theatre in Camden Town to see Spectre! There we met Simon, Warren, and Warren’s friend Len. I was craving a salty movie-theatre-popcorn fix so I opted not to get the sweet popcorn. This was a mistake. I can’t speak for all theatres in the UK, but at that location, the popcorn didn’t compare to even the least of the movie-theatre popcorn I’ve had here in North America. I should have gone with the sweet popcorn. This may be one of my only regrets of the entire trip.
On the bright side, there was a Ben and Jerry’s stand in the theatre, and I tried some Caramel Chew Chew ice cream. I still think about it sometimes. It was that good. As was the company of course! It was neat to do something “normal” like going out to a movie with a group of friends, but in a different country! I wasn’t terribly keen on the film, but I’m not a Bond fan to start with. It was entertaining enough to keep me awake and engaged, and there were many shots of London locations I’d already seen. That in itself made it worth doing right then and there. An added bonus was the film hadn’t been released in North America yet, so I was getting to see it before most of my friends. It’s always fun to have something to gently tease your good friends with. (As if saying “Nyah nyah, I’m in London!” wasn’t enough.)
We were tempted to pop out for a pint with the fellas after the movie, but we were pretty beat, so we went straight back to the hotel to try to sleep. We had plans to get up at up at stupid-o’clock the next morning for our big Wednesday day-trip. That plan failed spectacularly for me. I had terrible trouble getting to sleep, and didn’t sleep well the whole night.
This lack of sleep lent an otherworldly quality to the whole of the next day, but that’ll have to wait until the next post!