London has still got it going on

Waterloo Station
Waterloo Station

Cheers! Things have progressed a bit here in London since the Romans first came to town.

The land of foggy skies and overflowing pubs is alive and well as it gears up for the 2012 Summer Olympics. Advertisements featuring muscled athletes abound and the Underground is in the midst of a bit of tidying up.

I arrived into town two nights ago, flanked by two of my Cal water polo teammates and traveling companions for the next three months. Despite our various interests in history, art, culture and drinking (OK mostly drinking) there was something for each of us.

No visit to London is complete without a visit to the British Museum, totally free, a major boon to budget travelers such as ourselves. The museum features such treasures as the Rosetta Stone, a large store of Viking artifacts and two of the ancient wonders of the world (the Temple of Artemis and the Mausoleum at Halikarnassus). After a couple hours trotting around the vast expanse of the museum we were ready for a little relaxation, thankfully London is not a hard place in which to to find a little fun.

The Cal Bears are everywhereFrom the jumping off point of St. Christopher’s Hostel in Southwark, which features a fantastically cheap bar (for London prices), we wandered around until we found some of London’s famous Indian cuisine. England has long held the reputation of having food that only a native or someone born without taste buds could love, but the incredible variety of ethnic restaurants in London tells a different story. If the British colonized it, then expect there to be a truly delicious restaurant featuring its cuisine.

As with most of Europe, seeing the city involves quite a bit of walking but the London Underground, or “the tube,” is very efficient. The standard black cabs and red doubledecker buses are everywhere, however the locals don’t seem to find this or the tube stop of “Cockfosters” as amusing as we do but I suppose that’s their loss.

Aside from my friend Eric getting accused of being a “giggler” (not sure what this means, but I’m fairly confident it’s not a complement) in a bar restroom the city has treated us quite well. Big Ben is not so big after living in the shadow of the Campanile for a few years, but Chaucer is still buried at Westminster Abbey and as far as I know the Queen is still on the throne.

Every step I take in London feels like I’m walking through history, but then again after a few hours in the pub the sky isn’t the only thing a little foggy. Overall, a phenomenal place but not one for the budget conscious traveler to spend too much time in.

Other highlights include Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace, the Dickens Museum, the London Eye and the Tate Modern.

Up next is a quick jaunt into Edinburgh for some scotch tasting and a possible hunt for the Loch Ness monster.

Image sources: Travis Bickham, Daily Cal

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