! Big hugs all around - how nice it was to see him after all that time!!!
Since none of us had eaten breakfast, we decided to get something to eat before heading back to the room. We found a nice corner café/diner and got a table outside. Brian and Trystan had a very large traditional English Breakfast (which I sincerely regret not getting a photo of), and I got Eggs Benedict. All very delicious! It was great to sit there and get caught up on things in person rather than on Skype. All the while, lots of football (soccer) fans were walking past and Trystan told us that a big game was being played there today, Inter Milan vs. Bayern Munich. People were just wild!
We headed back to our hotel to drop off Trystan’s bag and then went back to town. We decided to get off at the stop nearest the London Eye so Trystan could see that and walk around from there. After finding out that the very lengthy queue for the London Eye was only a 30 minute wait (more on that later) we decided to buy our tickets so we had them for when we wanted to go up in it. That accomplished, we walked over the River Thames to see Big Ben up close and walk around the streets on that side. We had intended to try and find a Pub with the game on and have a beer and watch it for a bit with the locals so we poked our head into a couple pubs that we found near where we crossed (only a few blocks from Parliament)…I guess we shouldn’t have been surprised that they had PARLIAMENT on TV rather than the match
! Guess it makes sense since we were on Parliament Row and the issues with the recent election were big news here!! After stopping to get some iced coffees and ask where the best place to go to watch the match would be, we headed in the suggested direction - which was toward the famous Trafalgar Square. On the way we passed the Cavalry Museum just in time for the changing of the guard there. We ended up with a front row viewing for that…and did a lot of waiting, not really sure what we were waiting for since this was something we knew nothing about ahead of time. It was interesting to watch, but a little bit of a non-event. At one point toward the end of the proceedings, the two guards who were mounted at the entrance were called forward to be inspected and then dismount. Right before they dismounted, each of them gave their horse a hard slap on the neck…not sure what the meaning of that was yet, but there was a loud collective gasp from the crowd, us three included…and the horse gave no reaction whatsoever. I laugh every time I think about that crowd reaction! So, watching this event meant we missed the soccer match, however as we headed back down toward Trafalgar Square, we did see lots of "well oiled" fans...the attached pic speaks for itself!!
We spent a little time on Trafalgar Square people watching and looking around and then decided to head back toward the London Eye to stand in the queue for our "flight" (what they call the 30 minute ride around). Along the way, we checked out the many street performers that are in the area,some very cool, some just weird. Remember when I mentioned that they told us it was around a 30 minute wait in line? After a 1 1/2 hour
wait it was finally our turn. The view is just unbelievable from up there, you can see the entire city. The pods that you ride in are really quite large, holding around 25 people
. We had fun looking around and seeing what landmarks we could identify from up there. After the London Eye, we decided we had enough time to walk along the Jubilee Walkway toward the London Bridge before Trystan needed to be back to the hotel to meet his friends that are in London...we had the very mistaken thought that the London Bridge would be really neat to see (wrong!) - and the gentleman at the London Eye told us it was only a 30 minute walk up the River Thames from where we were (double wrong!!!) - after walking probably an hour, we found the very relatively unattractive London Bridge....HUGE disappointment! In the distance was Tower Bridge - definitely much prettier, but we were out of time. We headed back to the hotel and Brian and I called it a night while Trystan headed off to meet up with Carl and Sam.
Today Trystan flew in from Bergen. We met him at Victoria Station with a few delays along the line. Note to self: be sure whenever you are in London and relying on the Tube to get you somewhere at a specific time to check their website for line closures!! We had the route figured out from our station (Kilburn Park) to get to Victoria Station…great, except for the fact that one of the lines we had counted on taking was closed for the weekend, which we didn’t find out until we got to that station to make the switch. Arrrgggh!!! We quickly figured out plan B, got on the new train and arrived at Victoria. We were both pretty excited to see Trystan but were wondering how we were going to find him there since it’s a pretty big station - it not only has connections for the Tube but for the National train lines and the Gatwick Express train that he took from the airport as well. After leaving the Tube system, we headed up to the main area and walked around. We knew he had arrived because we had been texting, but we didn’t know exactly where he was standing. It didn’t take long - we spotted him and walked over :) That was a terrific moment