London, England. Never a high on my list. Not that I wouldn’t want to go. It is just that I have been going to all these places I figure my partner wouldn’t necessarily want to go. Places that are not on most people’s list. I have been saving Europe for when I have obligations. Is that a poor way to put it? I know I am weird. But that is how I think about things. I went to London with my roomie. We have been living together for what seems forever and can manage each other’s presence so I felt it was a good choice for a travel companion. We left home early Monday morning to drive the 5 hours to the airport. I wanted to leave a little early because we had snow predicted and people don’t know how to drive. The trip down was uneventful. We were listening to the Odyssey narrated by Ian Mckellen. This particular person is the reason we went to London. He and Patrick Stewart were putting on their stage performance of No Man’s Land. Figuring both these men are in their 70s it was time to see them before they weren’t around anymore. I had booked us parking off site and having used them before knew that it would be easy to get to the airport. The check in at the airport wasn’t too bad either. We were flying through Iceland which is somewhere I would love to go. After layover-ing there I want to go even more. We were delayed in Iceland two hours because London was too busy. Didn’t make sense to me either. But after an overnight flight we made it. LONDON! I have to say that the London airport has their shit together when it comes to customs and baggage. Very simple and easy. Next we had to decide how to get into the big city. We decided on the Underground and had a nice lady explain that a week pass would be cheaper than pay as you go. And off we went. I believe after the 5 days there we were Tube Masters. After getting in a little late and dropping our luggage off so that we could walk around before meeting our hosts we were able to get acquainted with the town. It’s a very lovely place. The architecture is fantastic. The people were rushing all around us. I felt like a stone in a river. Our host, an Airbnb.com, was very prompt and very welcoming. Our room was perfect.
We had no plans for the day other then my roomie’s friend was to meet us and give us the local’s tour. He couldn’t make it. So we did our own tour. Walking from our flat to Buckingham through the St. James Park was lovely. So much detail in the littlest things. I was overwhelmed. We took our touristy pictures and made our way down the Mall toward the Thames. As we walked down we saw horse riders and realized the Horse Guard wasn’t far and detoured there. The grounds were huge and so many sculptures. After the Horse Guards we worked toward Trafalgar Square and by a happy accident came upon the National Gallery. It was free… donation requested. I was happy to comply. The National Gallery is huge. Never ending. And completely amazing. I wish we had days just to sit and look at everything. There were school children getting there lessons taught and I was in awe. If only my schooling could have been as such. WOW. After purchasing some Van Gogh’s prints we moved along toward the Thames. Its rather grand and I think about all the movies that use scenes from this area. Moving toward Parliament we spent time taking pictures and grabbing street food along the way. I was also pleased with the warm (for us) weather and lack of London rain. We finally made it to Parliament and the Westminster Abbey and took our proper tourist pictures. Might have blocked traffic and bothered a guard but it was all very innocent. At the Abbey I purchased a little Father Christmas stuffy made to support their charity. I also got this wood block with a picture of Jesus but there is a little person riding on His back and it made me laugh. (I might be going to hell) After our shopping and gawking we worked our way home to get ready to see Aladdin.
Aladdin was in Soho and we took the tube there. After a lovely stroll to find the theater we decided to eat at an Indian place next to it. I have to say the food was great but we just wanted to order appetizers but belatedly found out that we had to each get an entree. There was some confusion and some discussion but our food came and we were well cared for. Found out that India has a great light beer. Kingfisher. Aladdin was a wonderful play however, it didn’t have Abu the monkey and the magic carpet. That, of course, changes some major plot points. The Genie was wonderful and they even had a tap number. I was very happy. Afterward we wanted to try the “hidden” pub called Trish’s where you can get a lifetime membership for 5 pounds. Well that has changed and there were so many people inside there we decided to try the Phoenix Club instead. It was great and our tickets got us in for free. A tube ride home and some much wanted sleep.
Today we wandered in a different direction then the day before and were looking for book stores. Used book stores. I have to say I was very impressed once we found a couple that they were always packed. Goes to show where their command of vocabulary comes from. That and there is a theater or play house everywhere. I was able to get my brother the Scifi book he had on his Christmas list and I found a 1936 printing of Plato’s conversations. All in all a very lovely day. We had Fish and Chips and just wandered lost through London. We saw the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge and walking across it we came to Tate Modern. We saw Shakespeare’s globe theater and just gawked at the nearby food market. That evening we went back to Soho to see No Man’s Land. It was profound. Watching some of my cinema heroes on stage without microphones acting out their roles. I could almost reach out and touch them. I know that many of the jokes, being local, went over my head but still it is something I will always cherish. After the show we went back to the Phoenix club for a pint then to bed.
For today I had booked us at bus tour to Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, and Bath. I was very excited as I had seen pictures of my mother next to Stonehenge when she was younger then I am now. I wanted to have a picture too. The ride over the country side was wonderful. I am always fascinated to see the difference in districts, rich/poor, and the country side. We quickly made it into farm land with ponies and sheep. I noticed that the hedges were so old that they didn’t have fences in some places. The hedge would hold well enough. I was impressed with the Windsor Castle. It is quiet large. I might have taken some covert pictures but I can’t confirm. We did some shopping too, ‘cause why not? Then there was another bus drive to Stonehenge where I got a nap in. I have to say I was slightly disappointed in the site. It is on the side of the road in the middle of a sheep herd and not as large as I imagined. Oh well. I still took more pictures here then else where. It was fantastic. Also listening to our guide talk about “Our London, our Britian, our…” was interesting. They talk about their country as we talk about America. That it’s the greatest in the world. Always a good sign of a health country. The final stop on our tour was Bath. Very neat little town. I imagined how long it would take to horse and buggy all the way our there for a “holiday.” Like they did in the past. Many famous people spent time in Bath and might have bathed in the Roman pool we saw. Very ingenious structure over a hot spring. All around was a Christmas market where we sample food and shopped. I know I looked at a lot of things but really didn’t purchase a whole lot. It was more neat to see what they had in their craft markets verses what we have in the USA. The ride home dropped us off near a Tube stop and we were able to grab a wonderful final dinner.
Getting up was rough with sore muscles from miles of walking. We packed and made for the airport. The tube ride was fairly quick and checkin painless. Gave us time for a lovely English Breakfast and duty free shopping. The flights home were on time and moved efficiently. Picking up my car was too simple and quickly we were on the road home. It was snowing and the roads were slick but after about an hour we got out of the weather and on nicer roads. We arrived home just past midnight to some very happy kitties and quickly found our beds and were deep asleep wishing we were in London’s 50* weather instead of Minnesota’s -15*.