6 days, 4 feet, 8 hours of daylight

Trip Start Sep 07, 2010
1
23
30
Trip End Sep 06, 2013


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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Saturday, December 24, 2011

  Randy and I went to London between Xmas eve and New Year's Eve-eve, you know, the day before New Year's eve.  As we stood in Trafalgar Square and listened to the conversations swirl around us in about 20 different languages we wondered if there was a city in the US that offered as much cultural diversity as London.  There are more things to do and see; historical, cultural, playful, entertaining, and even tasty, than we could remotely try to fit in within our limits.  We offered maybe Washington, DC, or Randy guessed perhaps Boston, but what do you think?

    London over the holidays presented challenges in getting ourselves from place to place.  That made the location of our room even more critical.  By 6 PM Xmas eve we wanted to sample the local brew and be able to make it back to our room with little to no trouble.  We'd heard that there would be choices of "ethnic" food for the holiday days.  As the 3 pubs near the hotel told us they were closing, or had already closed, we made our selection of ethnic food for the first night.  The tiny Lebanese joint didn't serve beer, so that was the deciding factor for Randy.  We ate ethnic all right our first night --- Italiano!  We even had Italian beer, the one we've affectionately labeled Nasty Ass, because it's easier to say than its real name.

    Xmas day dawned around 8 AM.  Besides Randy and I, the only things stirring on our end of town were 6 Bentleys driving by.  No tube service, no bus service, and our technology impaired credit cards wouldn't allow us access to the bicycles placed all over the city for commuting purposes, so we set out on foot.  Bad day for my pedometer I usually wear to fail (Mr. Timex it won't keep ticking!!!!!). We'd logged over 5 miles before we stopped for lunch and had a Dickens Xmas day walking tour, hours of wandering, including being near Westminster around noon to hear a playing of some chiming music from the towers, and the walk back yet to accomplish.  We also walked through St. James Park, by Buckingham palace, by Downing St, near Big Ben and the House of Parliament, down to Covent Garden, back to Trafalgar Square, and through Piccadilly Circus.


    Boxing Day, 26 December, still no tube, but the buses were running.  Randy is a font of trivia knowledge on 2 subjects; the Beatles, and Gilligan's Island.  Only one of those two were part of this trip though.  We started out the morning walking to Abbey Road, then across Abbey Road, then taking pictures of all the other people crossing Abbey Road, then he had to instruct people on the right way to cross the street to emulate the famous album cover.  We had a minor Beatles theme, as our play of choice was Backbeat, the story of Stu, the Beatle that was part of the original group.  It was news to me, but I don't think Randy added anything to his trivia knowledge collection.  After our multiple crossings, we headed back to downtown via a double-decker sitting upstairs in the front seat.  Check one item off Randy's bucket list.  He was like a kid in a toy store, grinning ear-to-ear.  The crowds thronging the shopping district around Regent and Oxford streets made it appear like there was no European recession.  Well, ok, the stores were running lots of sales, but when we popped into Selfrige's to see about an English teacup to buy, the man at the opposite register was buying 1000 BSP (pounds) of wine glasses, 8 for the price of 6.


    Heading back to the room, the buses were very crowded; people, packages, remember no Tube service.  For some reason, the last bus we were on that should have dropped us off a couple of blocks shy of our room instead pulled to the curb where about 100 people stood waiting for the next bus.  And told us all to get off.  I don't know that anyone got an explanation, but the 30 of us, or so, joined the crowd on the curb.  Randy and I looked at each other and figured it would be several buses before we managed to get on one since sooooo many people were already waiting.  So we just decided to walk, it was only a couple of miles.  Heading back to the pubs from Xmas eve that had been closing since they were so close to the rooms, Randy was hoping to continue to fill his fish n' chips quota.  Once again rebuffed, they were not serving food; we wandered back into the night.  This time we ended up at Nando's, a Portuguese/South African chicken joint.  I didn't understand how those two fit together, but apparently Nando's is a chain restaurant in the UK, or at least London.  The meal was tasty, and it meant the next day while we had the TV on, I got the joke the comedian told about eating at Nando's.  Ethnic two nights in a row, still no curry!


    One day we joined a bus tour to visit Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath.  The tour guide did a great job of prepping us for Stonehenge.  Interesting, but it's sorta like the let down of Pompeii, or even the Mona Lisa.  The legend has made it too large in comparison to the real event. But, check another off Randy's list.  By the time we got to Bath, the issue of only 8 hours of daylight, or less, took its toll.  The guide sort of strolled us around the streets and said, if you could see the architecture, then you would see this, but you couldn't.


    The day we took in Tower of London, around the London Eye, Shakespeare's Globe Theater and the became our walk comparison day. After the Globe, we retraced many of our steps so Randy could get night shots along the river.  By the end of the day, walking what we guessed was about 2/3rds of what we'd strolled Xmas Day, we got back to the room almost 12 miles later, and we'd even ridden buses, and the Tube several times.


   I knew Randy was tired when even he was too tired to shop.  A stop into Harrods bought no spark to him.


  It was really tough to pick a favorite thing.  One of the well done museums was the Churchill War Rooms.  This past year seems to repeatedly bring WW II to our travels.  I imagined London during blackout periods and how so many people in the 40's had most likely walked as much as we had Xmas day on a routine basis, just to get around.

    In the end, we'd even walked our own feet off.  And we can usually leave everyone else in the dust.   We filled Randy's quota for fish n' chips and local brew.  But we left plenty of things to go back and see.
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