London, Mind the Gap
Trip Start Nov 24, 2010
73Trip End Jul 14, 2011
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Another easy and uneventful flight in a small plane from Nice to London City airport except for a little turbulence on the way up and down while moving through to the stratosphere. We cleared customs and got all set up with our oyster cards for the next eight days and then we were on our way on train and tube with the system map in my hands. The only tricky part will be to avoid the closed stations that are being refurbished in preparation for next year's summer Olympics – London 2012. If it’s busy in the streets now, I can’t imagine during the Olympics. We were pleasantly surprised to exit the Gloucester tube station after 'minding the gap' and to see our hotel directly across the street so that the 16+ kilo backpacks plus handbags didn’t need to be carried too far through the streets of London where the traffic flows the wrong way
Anyways, needless to say we walked our feet off the next day after multiple detours around the closed tube stations (the weekend when most of the work is being done – we hope). It was wonderful to follow Ethel and Rick around London and the tube stations for the week so we didn’t have to think too hard. Being Saturday morning and with the sun shining, we started with a walk through Notting Hill on the way to Portobello Market to view the eclectic mix of vendors’ wares, antiques, etc. and try some apple strudel (universal appeal), definitely nowhere near as good as John’s mom’s but still tasty. After same, same, but different in the market, we then headed to the centre of London tourism, Trafalgar Square, which was full of concert tents for the weekend so we will need to come back. I do have some flashbacks to 39 years ago when Wendy and I arrived in London: the typical London streets, Trafalgar Square with the pigeons, Westminster Abbey, perhaps touring the Tower? Except for some cranes, likely working on Olympic venues, and a few fires it hasn’t changed too much over the last 800-900 years ;-) We walked and walked, several times in torrential downpours (are we really thinking of Vancouver for a couple of years?) past the Parliament Buildings, the now closed off Downing Street (I’m sure we walked to the door back in ’72 but we weren’t invited in), along the north bank of the Thames and then for a long ways along the south bank with so much to see
We had an interesting walking tour of the square mile City of London with Graham. He told us about the fires of 1666, after the plague of 1665. Interesting mix of architecture. Some buildings not destroyed in the fire were destroyed or damaged in the blitz. Walked around St. Paul’s and ended up on a pub on Fleet Street, disappointed that Ye Old Cheshire Cheese wasn’t open when we arrived there.
We had a busy morning at Buckingham Palace watching the changing of the guards (somewhat like watching paint drying). Then after lunch in Chinatown we decided to try the queue at Wimbledon and walked right in. We didn’t see much though as it started to rain not long after we watched the end of a match and were waiting for Rebecca Marino to come on a small court. She’s from Vancouver and doing well this year. So didn’t see much tennis but did a little shopping, had strawberries and cream, went to Henman Hill, all in the rain and then headed home. But the Straight Slam is complete, just not all in the same year!
Over waffles with strawberries and whipping cream in honour of Chrissie’s (Mom) birthday I managed to get two tickets to Wimbledon Centre Court for tomorrow so Eth and I are going back
How exciting, Ethel and Cathy go to centre court to watch some tennis! They weren’t the best seats in the house but we managed to watch the first set of the Venus and Kimiko Date-Krumm match much lower down, that is until the real owners claimed their seats. Venus almost lost but managed to win after starting off very poorly. Also watched Nadal beat Sweeting and Roddick beat Hanescu. John and Rick came to Wimbledon in the afternoon but chose to watch Milos Raonic instead of taking our centre court seats. Unfortunately Milos had to retire after a couple of games due to injury. And then Marino lost as well so not a good day for our new Canadian tennis stars
What else? Tendido Cero, a tapas restaurant around the corner from us. Very good and somewhat pricey – possibly due to the extra wine and dishes ;-) But it is London after all and we may never be back. We overheard the woman at the next table say that Eth and I were sitting where Kate Middleton was sitting last year when she was there! We also enjoyed Royal Albert Hall for an organ recital with the Royal Philharmonic Symphony. How beautiful it was. Also a requisite visit to Harrod’s where I saw a duplicate little red suitcase to the one I used for running away when I was a wee child. I almost bought it but couldn’t bear to carry anything more. Think that’s about it. Of course, the weather finally cleared when we boarded the plane for our next stop, Prague.