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au revoir paris and spinning like tops in london

Day 68 - Paris to London on the Eurostar, Clissold Park, South Bank, Oxford Circus Christmas Lights, Tommi's Burger Joint


We've coined the day when you get from country to country "Transit Day". It's basically carte blanche to take no photos and do as little as possible when you land at your destination. I feel a little heartbroken to be saying goodbye to our little attic apartment, our bakery where we stand in line with the locals for our baguette every morning, and our cafe across the road. Paris is one of the few places where, when I head out the front door on the day I'm leaving, I turn to look back.


I fall asleep during the Channel Tunnel leg of our Paris-London train journey. Waking up is disorientating and neither of us realised there was an hour's difference between the two cities.



It's sort of a bittersweet relief for me to be in London. On one hand, family is here. Rob's brother meets us at St Pancras and we are temporarily free from the anxiety and annoyances of navigating yet another metro city and yet another large city. On the other hand, it's not Paris. And the weather! I almost feel in need of a lightbox.



London today is all decaying autumn leaves underfoot, skidding sidewalks, and rushing commuters. 


We're lucky because Clissold Park is down the road. There's deer, birds, and chicken to gawp at, a quaint church with a really aggressive pointy tower, and a centuries old Victorian graveyard with crooked gravestones covered in moss. Some classic English countryside, about twenty minutes from the City. 



The sunset's shrouding everything in a lovely rosy and amber tint.


The neighbourhood is full of Turkish joints. After two weeks in Turkey, I wasn't sure I could face Turkish food again but for a bargain price of 2.50 pounds, I'm sold. It's delicious; a little spicy, a lot salty, encased in a soft, warm, thin chewy dough. It's heated over coals and the oils are soaking through the paper bag.


Later, we stop by for a hot drink at the cafe inside Clissold House. Everything in their kitchen has closed down except for tea. They're happy to give us takeaway tea.


The night is clear and Thames is sparkling with reflected light for our walk along South Bank. This walk lets you hit some classic touristy sights all in thirty to forty five minutes worth of ambling. Sir Francis Drake's gaudily painted ship - tick. Old ruin thing in the middle of the city - tick. St Paul's - tick. The Tate Modern - tick. The Globe with bonus film crew and that B-list British actor with the beaky nose and beard who always plays a villian - tick. The bridge that everyone thinks is London Bridge - tick. The plain looking bridge that actually is the London Bridge - tick. The bridge that wobbles - tick. It's a study in efficiency and much appreciated by these touristed out tourists.


There's also several places to on the way for that classic tourist photo from way up high (the Shard, the London Eye, the OXO tower). But only if you're willing to pay over 20 pounds for the privilege. Which we aren't.  


My personal, straight-out-of-a-movie moment was walking across the bridge with the Houses of Parliament to your left and the Big Ben looming straight ahead.


The pace in London, after weeks and weeks of lazing about in Italy and Paris, is punishing. We're like empty spinning chairs on the underground, spinning as people walk past on either side of us. Everyone appears to have a purpose that requires double speed. It's walk on the right and get your oyster card ready. And this isn't even peak hour....
 

Tommi's Burger Joint on Thayer Street is worth the commute to Oxford Circus and worth the crush. It's lively and they serve Icelandic beer. The burgers are like a McDonald's cheeseburger but made with less suspect ingredients. And they give you a lot of chips, a lot of different sauces to drench your goodies with, and all you can eat pickles. I'm so overenthusiastic with the pickle jar that I break the provided plastic fork in half.


The Christmas lights on this particular stretch of the road does put the Parisians, with their tinsels and gold balls, a little to shame. There's a street that has lights shaped like giant peacocks and peacock feathers, for pete's sakes.


There's a penguin-themed Christmas window for one of the large department stores. Everyone is in front of it squee-ing. I join them and squee to my heart's content too.

hanging out in stoke newington and scowling at Tate Modern art

take two of a Velib bike ride along the Seine and Parisian fights over raclette