Day one is done. 20+ hours of flying finished. The plane trip was painful and confusing, my body clock still wanted to sleep in Australian time but the lighting in the plane contradicted that clock resulting in short sleep sessions over the trip and a shore neck. We arrived in London at 5:30am with the harrowing task of staying awake until 9:00pm that day.
Upon getting through customs and finally leaving the airport we got on a bus to our accommodation, the bus drive was an amazing experience, it really gave a sense of England. Next to beautiful old buildings from Victorian and Georgian times were new and modern buildings, it was an odd clash of old and new. Next to these tall modern towers were the spirals of old churches, and next to the highly developed motorway were old building blocks, it was a different atmosphere that I really enjoyed.
The bus dropped us off at the Inn and we fed and left our bags behind as we were now off to the underground. The underground was eerily similar to the metro system, ultimately it was the same ideas and the carriages were laid out similar but there were just slight little differences that made it different. The trains were faster, and maps were different, and the colours were just slightly different. We got off the crowded train at Hyde Park, on the way up we walked quickly past a retelling of the Battle of Waterloo which had some pretty cool art to it.
We then got to Hyde Park Corner, at first, I was just excited to look at the Wellington statue and tell Matt and Jared about Waterloo. But I then went over to the Royal Artillery Regiment Memorial and read over it.
The shear lost of life in just that part of the British Army in WW1 hit me, I often read numbers and data in my history books, but for some reason this one shock me. 49,076 people died in the first world war alone in that regiment, it’s difficult to properly understand but I don’t know why it just hit me.
I then walked over to the Australian memorial and that really got me, on it were the names of battles and campaigns ANZACs had served in, but it was written in the names of those who had died. That really visualized the lose of life, it’s like the difference between spending $20 on a card and spending $20 in 5c coins, you realize how much it really is, and what’s worse is that it’s not near the 60,000 Australia lost in the war.
We then went to the bomber command memorial which again hit me quite hard, 55,573 airmen of bomber command died in the second world war, it’s a massive number of lives to be lost within the space of six years. I think one of the reasons it hit was because of the airmen which gives a person and a life to that number. I now realize what’s in store later in the trip.
We then went to Buckingham palace, this is were I really felt a different atmosphere culturally between the UK and Australia. That being the police were active and armed. In Australia I have only ever seen police carry pistols, and all that those guns were in their holster. On the bus to the Inn we saw an officer walking down the street holding a very real and serious machine gun, not holstered but held. When we got to Buckingham, I saw the Royal Guards, but off the side there were three police officers again carrying machine guns, and over head the entire time a police helicopter. And throughout our time in the area we saw police vans moving around filled with offices as well as many offices patrolling on foot. It makes me feel really lucky that this sort of police presence isn’t needed in Australia yet (hopeful never will be). I’m interested to see how things are in France as it’s apparently much more presence.
We then went to the Natural History Museum which was good, we didn’t have much time there, but I got a quick look around the whole place. The building holds so much of the knowledge that we humans have it’s really awe inspiring.
To close quickly, sorry if this is a ramble my brain is dead, London, and England in general, is wonderful, there’s history everywhere you look, and the city is beautiful. The police presence is slightly unsettling. And the war dead are remembered much more than in Australia. It’s made me more excited for the rest of the trip.