A Travellerspoint blog

London Calling

Hi everyone, Matt and I are currently on our 8 hour bus ride to Paris so I thought this would be as good a time as any ro write about Iceland and London. We flew in to Keflavik, a small town in Iceland at about 6am local time with not a wink of sleep the night before. By the time we caught a bus to the bus staion in Reykjavik and a cab to our hostel it was nearing 8am and we crashed straight away. By the time we woke there wasn't much time to do anything big so we just explored the town and got some dinner. Reykjavik is an interesting capital, it only has about 100,000 people which represents a third of the country's population, there are no skyscrapers and all the buildings are quite unique and painted in odd colours, the air smells nice and the water smells and tastes really awful because they get their water from underground so it's full of sulphur. The following day we got up at 7am which hurt a bit and boarded a bus for a day tour. The morning was devoted to "The Blue Lagoon" which is a huge geothermal hot spring that they've made into a really touristy must-do experience. It was really nice though, we stayed in the water for about nintey minutes and just relaxed, it was a nice way to start the day and we felt great afterwards. They had a really fancy restaurant adjoined which sold expensive Icelandic food (pretty much just fish cooked different ways) so naturally Matt and I sat outside it while we ate our pringles and water we bought beforehand. After that we were back on the road to tour the golden circle. We were driven out to a cliff face which was the edge of the American continental plate and taken to an enormous waterfall called Gulfoss. It was much more impressive than Niagra Falls, especially with the backdrop of Iceland. Out there it was really prehistoric, there's so much untouched land out there and actually looks like it's from another time. From there we were taken to an area with a whole lot of geysers, the most famous of which being "Strokkur" which erupts every four minutes or so. There were some smaller ones and one bigger but they're very irregular and we didn't get to see them go off, which was fine because Strokkur was more than enough entertainment. It shoots up twenty meters into the air and the sulphuric smell that hits you is so bad, but we got some great photos and video.

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Strokkur just before it erupts

That night we went on another tour with the same company in search of the Aurora Borealis, we where driven all around the area but all to no avail. It was too late in the year and too cloudy to really see anything unfortunately. That took us through to 2am which made it a 19 hour day so we collapsed in exhaustion when we got back to the hostel. The next day we weren't feeling very motivated to do anything so we just walked around the city a bit more and went up to an observation point in a church's clock tower. The next morning we were up at 4.30 to head to the airport, it felt just like getting up for work.

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The crazy rooftops of Reykjavik

We flew into Heathrow and immediately got on the tube to get to the other side of London, a trip which took three trains and an hour and a half. We checked into our hostel and met up with two of my friends from back home, Claudia and Ulrike, they're German but were in Perth for six months and I met them at work. We were staying in an area a little bit outside of central London called New Cross, which actually reminded me of Queens a little bit, with identical double storey buildings everywhere and abundant in small businesses. We were blessed with typical London weather for the first five days, I'll let you use your imaginations to interpret that. We were up in the morning the next day in time to get to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guard, where a whole procession marches through the street which is probably the most movement they'll do all day. We walked through the old part of town and saw Big Ben and parliament and all that. Then we walked up to the Tower Bridge and London Tower and saw all the street performers along the Thames.

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The day after (we're at Friday the twelfth for those playing at home) the girls wanted to go shopping so we left them in Oxford street and Matt and I explored a bit of Hyde Park and the surrounding area, not the most eventful day. Saturday however we went to the London Tower and took a tour of the place from a Beefeater. He himself couldn't explain why they were called Beefeaters, the best answer he offered was "because we eat beef". It was interesting hearing all the stories of the torture that used to go on, and the executions that was considered a family's days entertainment. We did go through the room with crown jewels which was nice and got to walk through the areas that the royal family used to live. Maybe in three hundred years people will be able to walk through Buckingham Palace.

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Sunday we had tickets booked for the London Dungeon which allowed us to skip the massive line. It was really cool and had all the haunted house tricks with people jumping out at you and everything, but you'd move from room to room with characters telling you about Jack the Ripper and Sweeney Todd and Guy Fawkes and all that. It was really interesting and was quite funny as well, they'd done it well. For the Sweeney Todd segment everyone would sit down in these tall chairs with speakers either side of you and the lights went off and it was made to sound as if Todd was going around the room talking to everyone, then a brush would hit you across the neck and everyone screamed. There was of course the over-reactors in the tour group. After that we walked up to the London Eye, that was really great too, it wasn't raining much and we got a good view of the place. It was cool being able to see up the Thames and you had Buckingham palace with the surrounding parks and everything, very pretty. The next day we said goodbye to the girls and to each other temporarily as we'd planned for a while to take a few days apart in England as we were getting a bit sick of looking at each others faces.

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I went south-west to a town called Exeter which was really enjoyable, it was great seeing a bit more of the country besides London. I spent three nights there and didn't do a whole lot, it was more to just recharge a bit which was needed. We were both a bit burnt out but we're feeling good now that we're on mainland Europe. But it was a cool town with some really old looking areas like what you see in the movies. Matt went north to see some family in Oxford and from what I'm told he had a really nice time and enjoyed some home cooked meals and a comfortable queen sized bed. After that we had two more days in London, we signed up for "Londons Biggest Bar Crawl" on Friday night which was a LOT of fun, it cost a bit but we made the money back by getting free entry to places and cheap drinks. So now we're in France hopefully not too far away from Paris where we'll stay for about a week. On Wednesday afternoon we're doing a roadtrip up north to Villers-Bretonneux to attend the ANZAC day dawn service at the Australian National Memorial which will be good. I hope everything's going well back home, I see the Eagles aren't having a great start to the season and the Dockers seem to think hitting the post gets them more points.

Posted by mattandcorry 08:03

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Comments

Wish I had known you had a couple of days free, I could have sent you to a friend. Good that you got to see some of the countryside.

by A.Leanne

Great blog, you have become very good at finding your way around. Very pleased that you will be at the dawn service, hope you see my friends. Must be nice to be feel the warmth of Spring in France, it looks very pretty and there's lots of great food to taste.

by Sharon58

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