We arrived here in London after a long wait for luggage at Gatwick. The luggage took twice as long to arrive than the flight from Amsterdam took. I’m not sure who was to blame British Airways or Gatwick. We thought London would be so easy to maneuver since we share a common language. But one needs to remember that in America we speak English and in Great Britain they speak the Kings’s English. Often it took a few seconds to process what the speaker was saying but soon we had the hang of it.
From the airport we took an Uber to Hammersmith. The driver arrived on time and took us to the flat on the outskirts of downtown London. The home is in an ethnic neighborhood with restaurants offering cuisine such as Indian, Chinese, Lebanese, Thai, English, American (Chicago), Somalian and Maltese. On the first night we met our youngest son, Tim who had stopped in Great Britain earlier in the week for a holiday. We were so happy that our plans were so flexible that we could spend time with him and have him stay in our flat.
The weather in London was phenomenal, as it has been for most of our days in Europe. After a great dinner of traditional fish and chips we returned to the flat and enjoyed talking and catching up with him. The flat had a pull out sofa, so together Tim and I pulled it out for him to sleep in. It seemed to fit only 2/3 of a person and certainly not someone who is 6’1″. We had Greg assist us as well and all that this retired teacher and two engineers could manage was to throw a couple of cushions on top of the board and give him enough pillows and blankets so that he wouldn’t notice that his bed was only four feet long! The next morning the hi jinx continued as we were no longer able to get the sofa “bed” resembling a sofa again. An email to the owner, Google search, and all the brainpower in our flat could not put the sofa together again!
Tim left that first morning to return to his job, but we still had lots of exploring to do. We took the London Underground “The Tube” into center London. Once off the clean fast subway we were met with a stunning view of Big Ben, the Thames, The London Eye, Parliment and Saint Paul’s Cathedral. How lovely to have so many London icons so close to one another. We took a Hop on Hop Off bus for a tour of some of London’s highlights. We also took a boat tour along the Thames to get a better view of The London Eye, Tower of London, the remnants of London Bridge (the upper portion was sold to Lake Havisu, Arizona) and Tower Bridge.
We enjoy pub food and Greg is doing his best to try many of the local brews. Because today was our thirty fourth anniversary we also went out to a sweet local restaurant to enjoy Sunday Roast, a staple in Great Britain. The dish was served with carrots, roast beef, onions, peas and Yorkshire pudding. The waitress was kind enough to buy us two glasses of prosecco to toast our anniversary.
On our last day in London we were planning on joining a walking tour which included the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. Our guide was a quick fellow who shared some of the rich and sordid history of British royals which go back thousands of years. We were able to catch the beginning of the Royal Band as they marched towards the palace. We were thrilled to hear them play “Fat Bottom Girls” by Queen. We watched the procession and were able to get some great pictures as well. It really is kind of cool to have a royal family.
We also did some shopping and although I enjoyed visiting Harrod’s. I couldn’t afford to buy anything there, and my mantra is if it’s not on sale I’m not getting it. I did buy a tea towel with the Queen’s face on it.
On our way into London I was somewhat sad that we hadn’t planned to see a play while there. But since the glass is always half full we decided to check into same day tickets. When I told the ticket agent what play we wanted to see, he said he would check. A few minutes later he replied, “God loves a trier ma’am.” We saw “Kinky Boots” with phenomenal seats.
The next morning we packed up and had scones and cappuccino before printing our boarding passes. We wanted to change all of our reamaining euros int British Pounds. It is so different than American money it seemed as if I was using Monopoly money. Next we boarded a train for Southhampton where we will embark on a cruise of the British Isles.