Monday, July 8, 2013

vacation 14: London

Buckingham Palace was closed for tours until July, but as we walked through the park, we heard the royal guards playing music--New York, New York. It was surreal.
After taking all the usual tourist photos, Ben Ben, phone booths, etc, we took them again from the air via London Eye. The line was over an hour long and they sent us all away due to a malfunction. You can pay another $75 to jump the line, or you can just come back the next day 15 minutes before they open. Ferris wheel ride lasts about 25 minutes. Honestly, it was exciting until the apex, and then I was depressed the whole way down, knowing the ride was almost over. (no Freudian comments) The giant penguin sits in front of the aquarium by the Eye.


The kids let me pick an adventure meal place, and I chose the Japanese restaurant Wagamama, which I'm told translates "naughty child." It was tasty, and every extra menu risk we took worked out. The licorice mint tea hit the spot, and the plum wine with sparkling water was a steal at 3Pounds . The kids liked the frothy milk with cocoa so much we ate there again on day 3.

The next big event was watching "Midsummer Night's Dream" at the Globe Theater. Because we bought the last four seats, the kids and Tammy sat on the top floor while I sat on the first...behind a pillar. I was eventually able to join them after the intermission when the ladies who prevent people from changing seats during the show (England's version of a professional shoosher) went home to bed. Oberon and Puck were hugely entertaining, performing acrobatics, tumbling, and sleight of hand. They performed a wordless song at the end that was eerie.


We went to the British Museum to hit the highlights: Easter Island statue, jade dragons, Assyrian sphinxes, Rosetta Stone, etc. The kids took a lot of photos, but the big hit was an art exhibit with two panels:one containing every medication the average man in England took over his lifespan, and the other for a woman. It was a long strip, and a little scary. On the way there, we hit a used bookstore and added further weight to our suitcases.

Of course, no tour of London is complete without the crown jewel, the Tower of London. The yeoman warder this time was just okay and the crowds were larger than normal due to being a weekend. However, everyone drooled over the gems and jewelry. We went through that area twice. It drizzled that day, and when we went to Trafalgar again, it pours buckets so hard our pants were soaked through despite the ponchos. District line was closed near Earl's Court that weekend, and the bums living in the tunnels told people which routes to take.

The only stressful part about London was getting the heck out. When I was bargain hunting for tickets months ago, I mistakenly thought that London Gatwick was actually IN the London area, not an hour car ride away. Because of the train closure, getting to Gatwick meant riding Circle line to Picadilly line two stops, humping all 7 bags up steps, riding Picadilly 5 stops to Victoria Station by 8. My jaw hurt from grinding my teeth so much at night from the worry. I decided to pay 20 Pounds for the short cab ride instead. Then we were to ride the Gatwick Express train (39 pounds). I had the clerk at the hotel call the cab for us--he called an 8 seater Mercedes with a flat rate of 28 pounds, which he didn't tell me until we were on the road. I didn't want to risk being late, so I ate the loss. I'm glad I did because we had only 25 minutes of buffer, but I'm pretty sure the clerk got a kickback. Realistically, the bank would've screwed me for about the same markup for the unused currency. They don't even accept coins, only paper.

No comments:

Post a Comment