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« edinburgh report | Main | london, england »

london report

Came home to 2900 emails, eek.

Left Portaferry, Ireland early yesterday morning, finally got back to Toronto
18 hours later. Trip photos online soon (Black's told me next Wednesday), but I'll
post bits of my report here meanwhile.

LONDON REPORT (two full days)

Left Toronto on May 25th in the evening. The flight to Heathrow was about six and a half hours,
and I actually managed to get some sleep (secret: I took a Gravol just before
getting on the plane, and also brought along ear plugs). The only other time I've been
to London was nearly ten years ago, and I've smartened up a bit since then in terms of
travelling. For one thing, I packed much lighter this time...I fit everything into one
knapsack and one small suitcase with wheels (the type that is small enough to be a carry-on,
though we opted to check our luggage anyway). No formal clothes, counted on layering rather than bulky stuff; don't think I'll be able to pack this light for our February UT/UK trip, unfortunately...unless I leave my guitar, flute, and music behind! :) Other carry-on essentials on long flights (for me, anyway): bottled water,
ear plugs, reading material, moisturizer, toothbrush & toothpaste. Dozed fitfully through
the two movies on the flight: Civil Action and Waking Ned Devine (if any of you haven't seen the second movie, go see it RIGHT NOW! Helen says it's called "Waking Ned" in the UK).

Took the tube (the Underground subway system) to Tower Hill station, where Helen met us and took us to Brian's place. By this time it was morning...felt a bit weird to having morning sun on my face while my body was telling me, "Go to bed, you fool! It's four in the morning!" We dumped out stuff off at Brian's, and then headed off so I could meet Lissa and Annie for lunch.

And then came our adventure Underground. The London subway system is much more complicated than
the Toronto system...many more subway lines, and different trains often used the same track. You also buy tickets instead of tokens (the further you travel on the system, the more your ticket costs...contrast to Toronto, where one token will take you anywhere on the TTC), and need to use your ticket to exit the Underground as well as enter it. And don't crumple it! Jeff crumpled his and was very nearly trapped in the Underground forever. Anyway, trains arrive/leave fairly frequently. As we got down to the Tower Hill platform, a train was just pulling in. Instead of checking to see
what train it was, we all leaped on board just before the doors closed.

Within a few minutes, of course, we discovered we had jumped on the wrong train. It took us about twenty minutes to get back to where we started, at which point it was announced that there was a technical problem in the line, and all trains were being delayed. I was already late for lunch with Lissa and Annie, so we opted to cab it instead. Fortunately Lissa and Annie were still waiting at our appointed meeting place, yay! Helen and Jeff left to do some sightseeing, and L & A & I headed off to a nearby pub (whose name I forget, sorry). VERY nice pub, not at all what I imagine when I hear the word "pub". I have to apologize to Lissa and Annie for any incoherence evident in my conversation
that lunch...I was still a bit zoned out from the flight. It was wonderful to see Lissa again, and Annie was just as nice as I had imagined her to be. :-) Can't wait until February, when we get to hang out with each other for longer!

In the afternoon and through the next day, we checked out Buckingham Palace (my insistence...I had to see it in real life), the National Gallery (very cool to see the originals of paintings I've only seen in prints or while playing Masterpiece as a child), the National Portrait Gallery (our main goal was to see the portrait of Mervyn Peake), Westminster Abbey (gorgeous! chapels and memorials of/to people like Queen Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots, King Henry the Fifth, George Frederick Handel, William Shakespeare, Geoffrey Chaucer), bookshops, Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square, other landmarks. We went to a concert in St. Martin-in-the-Fields in the evening, and that was a real treat. The Primavera Chamber Orchestra performed Pachelbel's Canon and Gigue, J.S. Bach's Concerto For Two Violins in D-, Mozart's Divertimento in D+, and Vivaldi's The Four Seasons. And all this by candlelight in a 700-year-old church. Not a bad way to spend our last evening in London. :-)

Ate at a great Indian restaurant after. There was a young American couple sitting at the table next to us...and I have to say that these were the kind of people that give us North American types a bad name. We could hear them mumbling through the whole meal, complaining about the food, the service, the cost. Nothing was as good as it was in the U.S. (e.g. "Back in the U.S., rice ALWAYS comes with our meal in Indian restaurants, we don't have to ASK for it...") Sure have to wonder why they came over to visit in the first place, hmph.

My overview of London: lots of things to do and see, expensive (everything cost about 2.5 times as much as it did in Canada), very busy, could easily have spent more time exploring the city. I would have liked to check out the Tower of London, for instance, as well as take the Buckingham Palace tour.

Language learned: "toilet" ="restroom", "bap" = type of sandwich (is this right, UK types?)

Next installment: Edinburgh, Scotland.

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