Sunday, January 31, 2010

The trip: Part 14 (Back to London)

Day 14
Our time in Paris was too short, but we were excited to continue the adventure. So we said goodbye to Ile Saint-Louis and hopped on the train to London.

The Chunnel is an amazing system. It was so fast and convenient. We went through Customs at Gare du Nord, took a little snooze through the tunnel and woke up in London.

We had to walk all over Kensington looking for our hotel, especially after a well-meaning Londoner pointed us in the opposite direction.

The first thing we wanted to do was return to the Houses of Parliament. We realized that we had not gotten a photo of us in front of Big Ben, which seemed like a real necessity on any trip to London.

Our next stop was Westminster Abbey. We were famished by that point, but inexplicably there were no restaurants or shops anywhere near the Abbey. We wound up buying gigantic bags of crisps from the snack cart outside. Surprisingly satisfying.

No photography is allowed inside the Abbey, which is a bummer because the place is really impressive and filled with artwork and the graves of various amazing people, such as Elizabeth I, Geoffrey Chaucer, Charles Dickens, Samuel Johnson, Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.

We did manage to snag one photo in the cloisters.

We ate the rest of our crisps on the walk over to Buckingham Palace. We didn't especially want to go in (and we were too late), but we thought we might as well stop by. The Union flag flying out front supposedly means Her Majesty wasn't in there anyway.

We saw these guys out front and thought, "We should've done that!"

It started to rain while we were on our way to Trafalgar Square. It was a really neat area, but we didn't hang around long. We just ducked into the National Gallery portico and snapped a photo or two.

We ate dinner at Pizza Express, which we'd been wanting to try since we got there. It's a pizza chain with white tablecloths and wine glasses. And it was my idea of the perfect pizza. And the salad, wine and dessert were also fabulous.

To make the most of our last night in London, we hit the West End to see "La Cage aux Folles." And the fabulosity continued! So fun, great musical numbers, surrounded by gays — what could be better?

Day 15
We had to get up pre-dawn to make our flight, and we felt like we were making good time when we got on the Tube. There was just one problem. Heathrow is really big. In fact, it has three Tube stops. So, um, which one should we take?

See, it would have been super if there were a poster in the train listing the airlines and terminals. But the only poster in the train said that you had to call Heathrow to find out your terminal. And you couldn't call from the train. How convenient.

We decided to follow the lead of another American couple who were on their way home. They were wrong. We wound up at a terminal so far away from the one we needed that we had to take another train back to it. We had a few tense moments as we waited and waited for the train to move. But we eventually made the flight, narrowly.

The flight itself was uneventful. Except for getting to see Greenland.

So that was the trip. It was an unbelievable trip.


kc said...

"surrounded by gays — what could be better?"

That is possibly the cutest — and not the least bit patronizing — thing I've ever heard you say!

"La Cage" was fantastic. We should have stuck with our original plan to go back to the Punjabi place after the show! Might have slept better on the plane. Hehe

I love that picture of you in Paris under the street sign! Love it!

You forgot to mention the fun duty-free L'Occitane shop at Gare du Nord!

I love the public transportation in Europe. It's so great to just hop on a train and not worry about renting a car and researching a map. And the trains were all extremely comfortable and smooth. I probably could even have read in some of them.

That hotel in London was pretty decent, too, if a bit out of the way. Clean, well-kept, inexpensive. A good choice for days when the hotel room is literally just for sleeping.

(I just remembered how the Tube stops were under construction and you could never be certain what was open ...)

Westminster Abbey was even more delightful than I thought it would be. It's like the epicenter of British history, but still quaint and earthy somehow — unlike the overwhelmingly huge, but still awesome, St. Paul's. How fantastic that they had enemy Queens Elizabeth and Mary there — together for all eternity. And the ghastly story of Oliver Cromwell's remains! And the oldest door in Britain. I really enjoyed the guided tour narrated by Jeremy Irons.

I had a banana and a latte with my crisps. Why? Hehe

Good call on the Union Jack! I thought its flying meant the queen was in residence, but I just looked and saw how it was changed after the Diana PR fiasco.

I adore that rainy shot of Trafalgar Square. I think that day and an evening in Paris were the only wet weather on the whole trip.

Why don't we have Pizza Express here? Good grief.

Beautiful posts, hon! They make me wish I was there — again.

Erin said...

Westminster Abbey was so fantastic! Among my favorite places we went.

I so miss the European train system. It would be such a great thing to hop trains all over the country.

I'm craving a Pizza Express right now! Someone has to get it here somehow!