October 11, 2011

October 11, 2011

London, Day 1: Orientation and Cake


I am once again back in the United States of America, land of the free and home of the brave. Also, I would now hastily add, decent water pressure and people who drive on the right. Those two things I missed most while in London.

But let me not so casually dismiss what one could call…

An Awesome Week in London (With Time Also in Windsor) Experiencing a Range of Temperatures, Seeing Many Historical Sights, and Consuming a Great Number of Sainsbury’s Sandwiches

I think probably the best way to recount my trip for you is to take it day by day, including only the best pictures. It’s not like you’re interested in all 800 photos, and it’s not like every single second of my trip involved doing something fascinating. (In fact, we were twice stymied by the complete shuttering of Victoria Station IN RUSH HOUR.)

Day 1: Sunday, October 2

Though my flight left DC on Saturday, October 1, seven hours on the plane plus a five-hour time difference meant I arrived in the wee hours of Sunday morning. Due to Heathrow’s curfew policy, our plane wasn’t allowed to land before 6 a.m. By which time, I was prepared to pledge allegiance to Charles Dickens if it meant I could finally get on land.

No complaints about the flight itself, during which I watched “The Hangover, Part 2” and some “30 Rock.” The meal (questionable beef) and snack (yogurt, pastry) tided me over, combined as they were with my UTTER DELIGHT to be going to the UK.

So I slept not at all. This would later turn out to be an unwise choice.

We landed at LHR, figured out how to get Tube tickets into the city (thanks, internet research!), and got to our hotel in the posh Belgravia neighborhood about 8:30. (Excuse me, 08:30.) Our room wasn’t ready, of course, but we dropped off our bags and set out to explore the city.

First stop, Victoria Station, for actual food at an actual table.

Then, past Buckingham Palace and the Mall for some good pictures.

Next stop, Oxford Street, to check out the Disney Store and observe the hordes of shoppers. England was experiencing record heat (low 80s), so they were out in full force.

Then, we walked back towards the hotel, passing the US Embassy on the way. You just never know when diplomatic privilege will be necessary. I’m just saying. (Times we were almost hit by cars while trying to cross a traffic circle: 2.)

Our hotel room opened up around 2 p.m., so we unpacked and prepared for the tour group meet-and-greet that afternoon. Luckily, it was 90% adorable older people/retirees (including an Aussie couple I adored), 5% single lady travelers, and one other “young” couple. Several other people hailed from the DC area, had worked for the government at one time, and/or watched a lot of PBS.

In short, these were my people.

Our guide, Gillian, took us for an introductory neighborhood walk. I did not mention that TheBoy and I had already walked quite a bit of London earlier that day. Not sporting to be too showy, you know. The group dinner was at a place called Grumbles, where I had rabbit, chicken pie, and a dessert that involved cheese and crackers.

(Side note: The female half of other “young” couple mentioned earlier had her 30th birthday that day, and they had a small cake for her at the dinner. Yes, she totally stole my birthday thunder. I refused to have a slice of cake out of protest. Then I had a small bite of TheBoy’s piece, because principles only go so far when cake is concerned.)

On the walk back to the hotel, I realized that I had been up for about 30 hours straight. My longest ever. (I was a good student in college.) Never mind that our hotel room was a closet at the top of 6 flights of stairs—I was just happy to find a place to sleep.

Tomorrow: Beefeaters, Cockneys, and Saints.

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