Thursday, May 29, 2008
May 29th - London
London. I think I could live here. Honestly. It's foreign enough to be exotic and not like what you find in the US, but they speak English so you can navigate the town fairly easily.
And of course, what's the first thing you do when you get to London! Why, just like the pussy cat - you visit the queen! Our hotel was walking distance from Buckingham palace so we hoofed it over early to get a good spot to see the changing of the guards. On the way we walked through Trafalgar Square. Which, to be honest I don't know why it's famous. I really should have brushed up on my English history before coming over. I'm sure there is some significance to Trafalgar Square historically, but at the time I have no idea. The road leading to Victoria Square and the palace was lined with lamposts and flags (which we later learned from a cabby is topped with ships from Admiral Nelson's fleet - Not sure who he is, but he's on top of the column in the middle of the square).
We got pretty early so we got a really nice spot in front of the palace. It was a little odd after spending time in Ireland to be surrounded by so many different cultures at once. Jesse chatted in Japanese to the people standing next to us.
Also, I saw Prince William. Yes, the future king of England himself. Granted, it was a quick look as he drove out of the gates, but still... I saw him. Beverly (my MIL) saw him too so she can back me up on that. Oddly there was practically no security around him. I'm sure someone was in the car with him, but there wasn't a motorcade or snipers on every roof like there is when the president drives by.
The changing was intriguing; something every visitor must partake of. But I think since we are American, a lot of the symbolism of what they were doing and who was who was lost on us. I expected it to be solemn, like the one at Arlington cemetery, but the band was playing "76 Trombones".
And after the palace, the best place to go is the palace gift shops. I must say I was impressed. I'm not a souvenir buying kind of person. (I'm not into kitschy knick knacks and key rings) But this shop had my attention. You could buy Queen Victoria's china. It is quite possibly the most beautiful china pattern I've ever seen. I wanted a piece, but it was way to expensive. So I got a teacup from Elizabeth II's commemorative china for her 60th wedding anniversary. It's quite lover-ly.
At this point Jesse got very ill. He literally threw up on the side of the palace gates.
Hoping it was just the crush of people and bad air we went to a pub to sit it out for a bit. No doing - he threw up in the pub as well.
I decided to take him back to the hotel while the rest of the family went shopping at Portabello Road.
Jesse was pretty sick. Around 5 o'clock I decided we needed dinner so I went out into the streets of London by myself. I've gotta say it unnerved me a bit. I had looked online for a nearby restaurant and memorized the path there. It wasn't that bad though. Our hotel was just one block from a bunch of delis and restaurants.
Jesse and I spent the rest of the evening indoors. It turns out he only had a 24 hr bug and was doing much better the next day, but we didn't sleep at all that night.
Around 2am he woke up ill and desperate for something to drink. So we looked in the mini-bar. We pulled out everything and found a coke in the back. A $6 coke. But it was worth it for him to feel better.
We later found out that the hotel charges by what was moved in the mini-bar, not by what was actually taken. When we checked out we had like a $200 bar bill but they dropped it. (Which was stupid in the first place because to even get to the coke itself I had to pull out three different items)