Day One of my London trip started out a little rough. My outbound flight from Denver was delayed four hours due to lightning(!). Apparently many flights that night were either delayed or cancelled outright. I was supposed to land in London around noon, and instead it was nearly 5:00 in the evening. That meant my plan to spend the day wandering was cut a bit short, and it ended up being a bit more of a speed-walk.

Anticipating that I wouldn’t want to wander town carrying a bunch of luggage, I managed to cram everything I needed into my trusty Google backpack. I love the fact that I can travel halfway around the world for four days on a single backpack!

As usual, my planning for an international trip of this scale consisted of poking around the internet for about an hour on the day I left. I figured out how to get from Heathrow to central London (take the Piccadilly Line on the Underground) and then over to Reading where my hotel and business meetings were (take the National Rail from Paddington Station). With that solid plan, the adventure began.

I really enjoy the Underground– also known colloquially as “The Tube”– although it’s a lot cleaner and more high-tech than I remember from the last time I was in London, back in 1998 or so. At each stop they have crisp, pleasant, automated recordings of a woman saying “Please mind the gap between the train and the platform”, which is quite different than the gruff male conductors I remember who’d just mumble, “Mind the gap”. Luckily, on neither visit did I get caught in The Gap and sucked under the train or whatever.

One thing I enjoy about the British is the different terms they use for things. Instead of saying “Exit”, they say “Way Out”. It’s “Give Way” instead of “Yield”, “crisps” rather than “French fries”, and so on.

Since I was wandering London alone, it seemed appropriate to take photos of myself with famous landmarks, to prove that I was really there and not just downloading stuff from Google Images.

Here’s the Victoria Memorial:

And of course Buckingham Palace:

Some famous statue:

This is St. James’ Park, which is really quite nice… although it’s hard to take a picture of a park.

Look, kids, it’s Big Ben (right as it’s striking 7:00)!

… And Parliament!

Finally, the River Thames:

After seeing the major landmarks, I headed over to Reading (pronounced “Redding”, so you don’t sound like such a tourist) and found my hotel. All told, I probably walked ten miles, but it was a gorgeous evening and well worth it.

Tomorrow: meetings!