Back to Europe

I flew to the UK on August 27th, but I had an 8 hour stopover in Brussels, Belgium on the way. Arriving in the morning on the 28th in Brussels, I left the airport and headed for the train station with advice from my friend Lysandra to head to Leuven. I had been to Brussels already 4 years before, so for me Leuven seemed like an ideal little place to go for the day. After a 15 minute train ride, there I was in the city where Stella Artois is brewed.

There are pretty buildings…

And not so pretty buildings…

I basically spent the entire day walking through every little street of the central area of town, sitting on park benches and enjoying the fresh air and distinct lack of mosquitoes or staring eyes. I then headed back to the train for Brussels airport.

I landed at Gatwick, caught the train down to Poole, picked up keys from Oz’s cousin Stu, and made myself at home in Oz’s parents’ temporarily empty home (Oz was in China as the English National Cerebral Palsy Football Team’s physiotherapist).

After a few days lounging around doing absolutely nothing (aside from laundry and computer stuff), I headed up to London with all my stuff, and zipped out to Heathrow airport to meet my aunt. Aunty Jo spent the summer in Vancouver while I was in Cameroon, and was on her way back home to East Africa so we were luckily able to meet up for several hours in Heathrow airport before she had to catch her next flight. It had been 4 years since we’d last seen each other!

I slept in Waterloo International train station in London that night, very uncomfortable but I had no money for a hostel and, after some persuading, the security guard decided I wasn’t causing any trouble and could stay. With my train booked for 4pm the next day, I had all day to waste once I got up off the floor. So I went for a walk along the River Thames at 645am.

City skyline:

Neat insignia on an old rail bridge:

Cool bridge:

Some sort of pirate ship or something. I would have looked at the information but a sketchy guy was coming my way so I kept on trekking.

The famous Tower Bridge of London, a really beautiful structure. The colours on this one (taken with my point-and-shoot) turned out pretty badly so I grayscaled it, but I’ll pull up a better one from my SLR sometime when I have more patience.

Another shot that turned out poorly on the point-and-shoot, but I’ll post it anyways because the small road with the walkways (they’re actually patios with chairs and plants and barbeques) is really quite cool. Something like this would make big money for developers in Vancouver. These are old buildings that have been fixed up and sold to people with money.

More fixed-up old apartments nearby:

This is one of the coolest bridges I’ve seen. You can’t really tell from this photo, but it’s a real work of art and the engineering is really interesting. It’s actually a swing bridge so boats can enter the side channel in the photo above, which branches off from the main river.

This guy had tonnes of tiny flies all over his web (most are outside the frame of this shot) on this neat bridge. He definitely won’t complain of starting his day on an empty stomach.

As I was getting back from my 4 hour walk along the Thames, I spotted this display of several innovative water fountains. This guy was definitely my favourite:

I then spent another 6 hours chilling around London, mainly in Waterloo International station reading and napping and people-watching, before catching my train to France.

More on that next time…