Saturday, March 26, 2011

Travel post #2 - London

The first stop on the trip was London. My sister and brother-in-law had a few days in the city already before I got there. It was my first time visiting the UK and I was very excited! The overnight flight was good, with the new planes with video screens at each seat. I watched Easy A and read a bit before the Tylenol PM took over. I definitely recommend those new planes. All the selections on the video screen makes one almost forget the lack of leg room or arm rest availability. And flying overnight was so efficient! Here's a few of the places we saw on the first leg of this trip...
My first view of London, the last photo I got to take on any of the flights. Next time I will check in sooner to get a good window seat and have my camera ready.
I arrived around noon on Thursday. It seemed easiest to take the Express Train to the city but in hindsight, I'd recommend just getting on the Tube. It wouldn't have taken that much longer and the cost was significantly less. You have to transfer anyway so what difference does it make if you're on a subway or a train car. Not so much! I arrived early at the tube station where we were to meet. It was cold and I had a lot of luggage. So I took off on foot and found my way to the hotel. After checking in and trying in vain to contact Susan and Erik, I headed back to the station, where they were waiting. Oops. The rest of Thursday was walking around the city and having dinner at Santorini Taverna near the hotel. A late night Skype with mom and dad and we were done for the day.

Friday was our bus tour of Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath. Hard to imagine the Queen really lives here...

Next stop Stonehenge. We listened to the history on the audio tour. Interesting to hear what was assumed to be the purpose of all those stones. Really though, they just don't know. Maybe it was just an early WalMart and the aliens are out in space somewhere laughing at us. hmm.
Next we were back on the bus and then on to the Roman Baths in Bath. Those Romans sure knew how to pamper themselves. The aqueducts were pretty amazing when you consider how old they are.

Saturday we were back out on the streets of London. We stopped at Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guards. Apparently everyone else in London did the same although we were told the crowd was small compared to what happens in the summer. Probably because it was SO.DAMN.COLD. My guess is that the gift shop was doing a brisk business because it was HEATED. Pretty cool to see anyway, even if we froze and were surrounded by the teeming masses.
A quick train ride out to Middle England brought us to Maidenhead. There we met up with my good friend Jon, who lives there. We had afternoon tea (and didn't get any photos) and then took his very cute dog Bono for a walk. We walked around the lake where the Olympic rowing will take place in 2012. I bet it will be exciting to be living there when the world descends on the quiet towns for the spectacle of the Olympics. We had dinner at the country pub Bel and the Dragon (and again didn't get any photos, sigh.) It was a fun day but too short!

Sunday morning we attended services at Westminster Abbey. I thought it would be crowded like the Basilica on Easter but we were among only about 20 people in the nave. Interesting! After services, Susan and Erik took off for Greenwich and I toured the Tower of London and took in the Tower Bridge Experience. Also, SO.DAMN.COLD.
We had plans later to meet Jon at the London Eye to ride the Duck Tour. Unfortunately, technology and timing let us down and although I waited on one side of the Eye and Jon was on the other, we never found each other. As it always seems to go with us, our time together was cut short and I never got to say goodbye in person. I watched the Eye go around and caught up with Susan and Erik after the tour.
Monday we checked out of the hotel, stored our luggage and took off for more sights. We climbed The Monument of the great fire of London 1666. It was quite narrow and quite tall. Susan loved it! :-)
A few more stops on the Tube and we were in Notting Hill. Seemed like a nice place to live, if you had the dough, that is. Didn't see Hugh Grant though.
Last stop was the British Museum. We saw every room and were in and out in four hours. Including lunch. Perhaps we didn't immerse ourselves as much as we could have but we saw every room!
Back at the hotel, we grabbed our luggage and took the Tube to the airport. Airport security is so different in each country I've come to realize. I got a pat down at Heathrow that was like a massage. She didn't leave anything to chance. All my body parts, the bra underwire, everything. And yet, we didn't have to remove our shoes. Apparently only Americans do that and other countries think it's odd. Fine by me!

London was a very cool place, I highly recommend visiting. It was bustling with big-city energy. Also, SO.DAMN.COLD. I am quite certain I was the only person in London in light blue fleece but I wasn't taking it off for anything! Had I only packed for London, I would have been more in style, black leather coat with a cute skirt, warm tights and boots like the locals. I had two desert countries to consider in my packing besides a suitcase full of stuff for the orphanage. I needed a sherpa.

Good: seeing Jon, pomp & circumstance, so much history, Oyster Card, London Underground
Bad: Spotty wi-fi (drank many cups of Starbucks coffee), cars on the wrong side of the road, cold, cold and cold

This is just a snapshot of the snapshots, so to speak. The whole lot of the London pictures are here.

Next up...Ethiopia!

1 comment:

  1. You must have misunderstood the signals... I did NOT like it. Just saying.