I had a busy day on Friday! Of course I was hoping that I wouldn't have all of Sunday to sightsee (and I didn't! I got a second interview), so I went ALL over London on Friday, despite the rain. I was supposed to meet my friend for breakfast, but my phone wasn't working at all so we missed each other : ( I instead got coffee and a sandwich, then commenced my journey. I went to Buckingham Palace first, since it is quite close to Victoria Station where my bus came in. Took some pictures, then went up through Green Park and Hyde Park before coming back to watch the changing of the guard. After the changing of the guard, it was up through Green Park again to try to find the hotel where my interview would be held the next day. I got a bit lost and ended up on Park Lane, had to backtrack, bought a map at the Wellington Arch, and finally managed to find the hotel. Fortunately it was actually really easy to get to once I had a map to reference. After I found the hotel, I decided to head to Abbey Road, on the tube since it had started raining again. I got a day pass, good for tube and buses, which was great since London is really big. At Abbey Road, I met a Japanese girl who took my picture, and then we got another girl to take our picture together posing in the middle of the intersection. She has all of those pictures though! Once she posts them on facebook I'll steal them and put them up here.
I thought about visiting Regent Park since I was in the area, but it was raining and I'd already been to two parks, so I skipped it. I skipped the Lord's Cricket Grounds too, although I ended up passing it on a bus. I went down to Westminster and walked through Trafalgar Square, and passed a Korean cultural center which had a free exhibition of hanbok, traditional ones and modernized ones by current Korean designers. It was a pretty cool exhibition!
After Trafalgar Square I went down to the Houses of Parliament and saw Big Ben and Westminster Abbey (where Will and Kate got married, haha). I passed Downing Street without even realizing it, too. Then I took the tube up to Piccadilly Circus, and walked around that area and bought a postcard. I stopped for coffee again there, too, and a couple people were nice enough to let me use their phone so that I could call my couchsurfing host and arrange to meet him later that night. I hung out in the coffee shop for a while, resting my shoulder which was starting to ache from lugging around my bag (no lockers at the station!). When the coffee kicked in and I got a second wind, I headed up Regent Street and looked at all the shopping that I couldn't afford! There was an Apple store there that I popped into to send an email to my parents. I used a Macbook Air, which was tiny and hella expensive. It was like a thousand pounds, which would be what in American dollars? Two thousand? Close to that? Anyway.
I made it all the way to Oxford Circus, but by then the rain was really pouring down so I took shelter in a Nike store where a DJ was playing. Then I made a break for Topshop, discovered there was a little cafe there in the basement (this was the biggest Topshop I've ever seen...) so I rested my shoulder some more and waited for the rain to let up a bit in the Topshop cafe. I was there for like half an hour and the rain just got heavier, so I ended up heading for the metro again and went across town to the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. The rain was still as heavy as ever, so I literally just dashed out, took pictures, and dashed back to the metro. It was a pretty cool bridge though so I'm kind of sorry I didn't get a chance to explore it further.
Then it was to the bus to go to meet my host!
Stay tuned for part II: the interview and further sightseeing on Sunday before the second interview!