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I went to London for work

Day 1 - Saturday September 5th, 2009

Adelaide to London

Flew from Adelaide to London Via Sydney and Bangkok.
Longest series of flights I have ever been on, and pretty much the longest you can do anywhere in the world, the USA and South America are both closer.
Got business class to Sydney (2 hours, 737-8), then economy to Bangkok (9 hours, 747-4), then economy to London (12 hours, 747-4). Allowing for flight changes this equals about 26 hours on planes or in airports.
Bangkok airport is enormous, too big for them to put anything of real intest into it. There were almost not people there and the corridors are huge. To make you walk past the various shops you get off the plane on the 3rd floor, walk all the way along a corridor, go up to the 4th floor, walk all the way back to where you came from and go down a ramp to the same gate.
The plane you get back onto is the same plane, they just make you all get off so they can clean it etc, which is much needed to stretch your legs.
Fortunately my Qantas Frequent Flyer status allows me to use the first class lounges in all the airports, so thers no shortage of food and drink on offer in Adelaide, Sydney and Bangkok.

On the various flights theres no shortage of food either, Adelaide to Sydney was business class so it was a full meal with the bakery basket and whatever else, Sydney to Bangkok was 2 full hot meals, you get a menu with a couple of choices. Bangkok to London was also two hot meals, the breakfast at the end was very good with an omlette.

The inflight entertainment system worked the entire way, I watched too many movies and a heap of episodes of the family guy.
To my knowledge I did not sleep at all on the plane, so this meant I was effectively awake for close to 38 hours straight.
Highlights were flying over Russia, Turkmenistan and the Caspian sea at night with a full moon, you can see lots even in the dark out the window.

Day 2 - Sunday September 6th 2009

Arriving in London

After such a long flight I was very happy to get off, only to be greeted by a 2 hour wait for passport control. Terminal 4 is in the process of being completely rebuilt on the inside, and Qantas is moving out next month. Until then its atrocious, there were no toilets or water and you have to line up for 2 hours, the line was so long it ended up looping back around on itself. There were police everywhere trying to control the angry people. I felt sorry for Old people and pregnant women, some of whom sat on the concrete and waited, not sure how they were ever going to get to the front of the line.
Next its time to get the train into the city, the extortion fee for this is about $35. Once you get let off you find out that all the connecting train lines are closed on the weekend, and you ride around on the tube with all your cases as the helpers in each station direct you back to another line thats closed. Eventually I got a taxi.

Finally got to the hotel at around 11:30, After being let off the plane at 7:15, cant check in however until 12, so went and ate...burger king. It was the closest thing to the hotel.

This is a bad photo of one of the train stations I went through between Heathrow and my Hotel.

Heres my hotel, London City Hotel Ibis, near Liverpool Street Station, chosen because its cheap, could be easily booked from Australia, and is located near to the Liverpool Street station from where I needed to catch a commuter train.

I was able to get internet up and running, thanks to someone who had previously visited giving me his pre paid 3g usb stick thing, setting it up was simple, so now you can be rewarded with my crappy website and accomponying photos.
After laying down briefly, I decided it was time to explore the train network.
I bought an oyster card which lets you on any tube train or any london bus, the system is very easy to use.
Caught the train from liverpool street to a random station.

Liverpool street station - the biggest train station ive ever seen.

Some random building I found when I got off the train

A real Lotus 7 parked in central london, not a kit car copy like we generally see in Australia

Architecture to be found around the monument station

The actual monument.

Tower bridge.

Random shot of Leceister Sqaure, which is also called the West End, where all the plays are showing and where Michael Jackson is performing next month when he come out of forced retirement.

Headed out again in the late afternoon and to find dinner. The trains really are fantastic, people in London dont realise how good they have it when it comes to transport.
Decided to head back to Leceister Square as it looked like the place to go in the evening.

The famous cock penis building is very close to the hotel.

Picadilly Circus (I think? Is it the name of the actual building or what?)

Heres where I ate, it was very average.

Random shot of the skyline taken on the millennium bridge near the london eye (both of which I took no photo of).

Day 3 - Monday September 7th 2009

Went to Brentwood for Work

I had to head out to the IT headquarters located at a commuter train in Brentwood. Now I assumed that it being 40 miles or so out of the city that it would be a run down industrial area. It turns out that the rich folks live out of London and commute on fast commuter trains.
The Town itself was picturesque english housing, like in those boring tv shows starring semi retarded old ladies that solve crimes. However the people there were young professionals driving Aston Martins.
Work itself was fine, I had a major breakthrough and was able to convince a 3g modem in england to connect to a private VPN in Australia on a frequency its not designed to use, it required lots of cables and firmware hacking.
I went out for lunch and fired off a couple of snaps.

A random churchy looking thing.

The high street, had a salad for lunch at the slug and lettuce, it was very good and well priced

More of the high street, most of which was being dug up to be repaved.

Example of the architecture in the town, not sure what this is, but things like it were all over with huge lawned areas in front of them

The trains are so impressive, to this Brentwood place they ran every 2 minutes in peak times, at 100mph, and stop just once in 40 miles.
Decided to go to harrods in the evening, rode on a big red bus, generally walked around and got lost, think I walked behind buckingham palace (fail).
I had dinner at a chain store pizza place, on recommendation, called pizza express. Mock me now if you wish but it was great, real pizza, real bocconcini and proscuttio, and it was cheap, a pizza I couldnt finish was 9 pounds.


Harrods is on the right, it was just shutting as I got there (fail)

Huge advertising sign thing.

Day 4 - Tuesday September 8th 2009

Went to Kings Cross for Work

Went to the head office for the UK for work today.
It is very near to kings cross station, just a short walk up the road. The office is like fort knox, theres 3 security doors to get through before you get to an office.
Not much to report of interest on the work front, the trains were packed in during peak hour in the morning, and it was hot for London this time of the year (27 degrees) but because you spend only 5 minutes on a train to get anywhere its ok.
Headed out in the afternoon to view some of our business in Westminster live in action, the place was packed with supermodel looking people, I felt stupid in my cheap work clothes, so decided to come back later in regular clothes to look around Regent and Oxford streets.
At night its even busier, and most of the shops stay open into the evening. I bought a top from THE GAP for 9 pounds. Generally clothes also seemed cheap, business shirts at Benneton which were in a style id wear were only 20 pounds and didnt seem to be on special.

Oxford street at dusk.

Had ribs for dinner at garfunkels, found out after that it was a chain store when I found another one around the corner which caused me to become confused and get lost.

Famous hotel, so famous I forgot the name.

More fancy looking white buildings

Different looking sort of building near Soho, stopped for gelati near here, but felt badly out of place as everyone else was wearing $3000 suits.

The Ferrari shop

Day 4 - Wednesday September 9th 2009

Went to Kings Cross for Work again

Full day of meetings.
It took a full hour longer to get to work today than yesterday as two tube lines were closed and I had to go around and then up to get to the nearest station which was Euston, then walk about 20 minutes. I didnt find this overly confusing, but plenty of people on the trains seemed to be lost.
In the evening I went for a long walk, and got lost. Assumed I was walking away from my hotel but eventually found myself heading back towards liverpool station without understanding how.
Had a good look around a tescos store, most stuff was cheap, even meat, but it appeared to be of a poor quality.
Also found out that behind my hotel is a little laneway where jack the ripper did some of his ripping. There are signs on the wall explaining what went on, including removal of wombs.

Heres the view out of my hotel window. As far as I can tell no work is happening on that building site. At least I get a window, as some hotels in London are advertised as not having a window, something I think is illegal in Australia.

Another famous landmark, st pauls something?

Day 5 - Thursday September 10th 2009

Kings Cross, big meeting day

Today was the day which workwise is the entire point of my trip. Which went off without a hitch.
Stayed quite late at work, so by the time I got home I decided to just walk around my Hotel, I didnt take my camera as I thought there would be nothing to see, so no photos today.
Walked up Whitechapel road, past a large hospital and the muslim centre. I was totally amazed at the number of fried chicken shops, I estimate there were 50 of them on this road alone in 2km. I guess muslims really love fried chicken.
Finally got to a place which wasnt selling fried chicken called J D Wetherspoon, which appeared to be a pub, but I suspect its part of a chain of pubs.
Now the price was fine, 9 pounds for rump steak with chips and vegetables, but I do have to say this was the worst steak I have eaten in my entire life. I still managed to eat the entire thing though, I was hungry. Also all the chips had black bits on them, and the vegetables were peas out of a can and a raw mushroom.
The place was full of guys trying too hard, with vests, hats and some sort of stupid little scarf. These were fashion accessories as its too warm to wear that sort of thing for comfort. I couldnt leave soon enough.

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