Friday, July 11th, 2014
05.07.2014 - 13.07.2014
I started the day at 9 AM by going to the Sea Life Aquarium by the London Eye. I have visited Sea Life previously at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, but I have to say that this one was better, and this is for one reason: Penguins! The attraction has a special section for animals from colder areas in the world and I enjoyed watching penguins swimming around. I have seen many creatures from the deepest parts of the ocean and I have been amazed by the different shapes and colors those creatures had. Sea Life is definitely a place where both adults and children can have fun.
When the tour was over, and while waiting for the opening of the London Dungeons, I ate a chocolate waffle at "Cafe" near the London Eye. It was not the best waffle I ever had, but it did fill my need for sugar. The London Dungeons experience was both exciting, funny and frightening. In groups, we visited step by step the attraction, which was divided in several scenes where actors were telling a story and entertaining us. I have learned about the Great Plague that hit London in 1665-1666 and about the infamous Jack the Ripper. I found the whole attraction very amusing and somewhat scary. The scariest part was the free falling experience we had at the end of the attraction. The London Dungeons are also one of my most memorable experiences in London.
While heading to Westminster station, I crossed the Westminster Bridge where many people try their luck in gambling. I have seen it a few days ago. Those who lead the game of three cups and ball ask passerby (mostly tourists) to guess where the ball is and bet money on it. The first time I saw this, I could guess each time where the ball was and did not understand how people could lose money on this. Following an impulse (which is really, not thinking at all), I decided to bet some money. I am not sure how, and before I knew it, I lost a whooping amount of 90£, which, for a student, is not insignificant. It felt like a spike in my heart. I did feel a lot of shame too for being that naive and stupid. It took me this loss to realize that the men who were moving the ball around were clearly cheating. So this is for everyone who will want to attempt to win some money from those games: the game starts as usual. There is one ball put beneath one of the cups and the cups are shuffled. Say for example that the ball ends up on the right side, and there is no doubt that it is there. You will tell the man "it is on the right side," to which he will respond "show me the money." You will take your wallet, take out a bill, give it to the man. And when you will lift the right cup, it will be empty. You lost all your money! The truth is, those men cheat. With the time you will take to take the money out of your wallet, they will change the ball location and you will lose. The trick is to either have your money ready beforehand, or put your feet on the cup while taking your money out. All in all, I have been tricked and I will never gamble again in my life! I ran back home while cursing myself to take more money out of my bag.
I headed back to Waterloo station and took the Jubilee line to Southwark. I walked along the Blackfriars road and visited the Bankside Gallery. I walked in the Bankside Gardens, then went in the Tate Modern museum. I have to admit I haven't found this museum very interesting, but this is certainly due to my lack of interest in paintings. After the museum, I tried to go to the Shakespeare Globe Theater & Exhibition but apparently, tours are only available in the morning. I walked past Southwark Bridge and into Bankend street. Thanks to my friend "Yelp," I found an amazing restaurant called Wagamama. I ate a delicious Teriyaki Chicken Donburi that I will remember for a long time. It is definitely worth every penny.
As I still had plenty of time in my day, I decided to walk along the river, back to the London Eye. After spending 45 minutes going the wrong way, I turned back and kept walking. I do not regret my big detour because walking along the river is so worth it. I used the Riverside Walk Thames Path and passed by Walbrook Wharf, Fishmonger's Hall Wharf, Dark House Walk (where I took the beautiful following picture), Three Cranes Walk, Paul's Walk until I reached Victoria Embankment.
I also saw the Millennium Bridge, which I believe is the bridge used in the Harry Potter movie.
I walked all the way back to Queen's Walk by the London Eye. Going again across the Westminster Bridge (damn you, gamblers!), I went around St. James' park to find the St. James' palace. Not only was it challenging to find, but it was also not that impressive. Therefore, I stayed around the London Eye. I planned to take the last ride on the Eye as I wanted to see London by night, and the sunset was pretty late. I waited until 10:30 PM and decided to queue in line. This is where I realized I did not have my tickets. In the rush of going back home and taking more money, I left behind a bunch of papers, and the ticket was among them! It takes approximately 20 minutes walking to go home and back, but somehow, by running as fast as I could despite the long day of walk, I managed to go there and back within 20 minutes. I was exhausted, huffing and puffing. I give my ticket to the lady at the Eye and tells me my ticket is not valid. With the rush of adrenaline I already had, I got so mad. I bursted in the ticket office and demanded an explanation. Apparently, the ticket is only valid during the day of purchase (which was yesterday), and apparently, this information is written in the ticket, except that there was little to no ink in the ticket they gave me! I was the more outraged because I specifically asked the person from whom I bought the ticket yesterday about their validity and he told me they are valid 30 days from purchase (and did not mention any exception for the London Eye). The person I was talking to, probably taken aback from a girl all red and crazy-looking from my run, only said "Peace and Love, Miss, it's gonna be okay!" Anyhow, one of the managers accompanied me until I got in one of the capsules.
As soon as I managed to breathe normally and after drinking all the water I had left, I could witness the awesomeness of London by night. It is, most definitely, a beautiful city. The Eye took about 15 minutes to complete one round. It was already almost 11:30 PM when I got out, so I decided to wait half an hour to hear the Big Ben struck midnight. It was a magic moment. There was not many people around so it was quiet. I could hear the crows around me and each of the strikes. There are no words to describe such an experience. It was simply out of this world!