Day 28 - 23/07/2002 - London UK

Spent the day with Greet, Dominique and Alexandra (friends from Belgium).  We went shopping in various areas, including Covent Garden which had markets similar to Paddy's Markets @ Haymarket in Sydney.  It was an interesting place that including street performers (of a relatively high quality), and they got big crowds (probably because it is school holidays here at the moment).  Greet bought a bag for a good price of 5 pounds (which was exceptionally good since it was an imitation of some bag/brand that normally costs several 1000 pounds (this is a slight exaggeration, but not by much because I actually saw the same bag in Harrods later that day, but I can not remember the exact price because I can not remember that large a number).  The markets also had pizzas that looked reasonably good for about AU$7.50.  I think I will return here before I leave London, so that I can buy an extra travel bag (being sold for approx AU$13) so that I can off-load some of my luggage to Greg when he returns to Sydney and I continue to travel in the USA.

We walked past several other shopping areas including Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Circus.  We started looking for lunch and walked through the SOHO area which is full of interesting looking and smelling restaurants.  As we were walking, we bumped into Paul Higgins!  Paul is a friend from high school and we had planned to meet him for dinner tonight, but amazingly, we bumped into him in the street - I called out to him, and he looked at me and nearly walked away because he didn't recognise me.  We had a quick chat and photo and agreed to meet up tonight.

We found an interesting Sushi place that Greet and Dominique like.  It is called Yo and is pretty cool ... it is similar to the sushi train places in Sydney, but a little more fancy.  I thought it was heavily overpriced at approx AU$8 for an average dish ... the bill was expensive, but it was a fun experience.  The highlight of then place was a little robot that went around offering drinks.

We continued down Oxford street and got some nice ice-cream from Ben And Jerry's ... and I got some more Phish Food.  We went for a stroll in Hyde park, but the weather was not so good ... how surprising for London, so we then continued to Harrods.

Harrods was as big and pretty as I had imagined, and the service seemed to be excellent until I tested it out ...  I need to get another travel pillow (because the other one has a whole), so I went to the travel section and saw some expensive ones, I asked one of the attendants where I can find some and they sent me to the wrong area and then I asked someone else and they said that they did not have any (and they suggested that I go to the store next door), which is very disappointing, since they did actually have them.  On another point about the service in the store ... when I was walking around the store, I entered an elevator and asked the elevator attendant a lot of questions about where to find things, and then when I got out of the lift, he got out and walked me to where I had to go ... I  thought to myself, shouldn't you be staying in the lift to do your elevator attendant job ... then the I had the shocking realisation that this guy was just another shopper and not a store employee ... I felt rude, especially since I demanded that he press my elevator floor button for me when I originally entered the lift. One of the highlights was the food hall which sold all types of food ... I really had to control myself or I could have spent all day there. [no photos were allowed inside the store]

Greg, Dennis, Louise and I had dinner with Paul.  We went to a pizza place that had good food for reasonable prices and a clever scheme where they only charge you for the wine that you drink - in other words, they have bottles with measurements up the side and you pay for per 100ml (or something like that) ... I guess it encourages people to drink more?  I tried to joke with one of the female waiters when I was ordering dessert ... she had told us that the Strawberry Tart was not available and left us to think about what we would like for dessert ... when she returned she asked me "What would you like for dessert" in my attempt to be totally honest I said "What I would like for dessert is the Strawberry Tart ... but since it is not available I will have the chocolate tart" ... she then proceeded to explain to us that she had a headache.

Went back to Dennis' place and we had our first problem with the trains ... they were delayed.  Up until now, I have been very impressed with the London train network, I have never had to wait more than a few minutes for a train and most of the stations are interlinked which makes it very easy to travel all over the place, especially with a day travel card that only costs about AU$10.  From all these countries I have visited, I am continuing to see many ways that the Sydney train network could be improved.