|Subject: London travelogue (long) day 1 -2|
Day one: Arrive London After a wonderful flight on Virgin Airlines where we were pampered all the way from Miami, we arrive in London's Heathrow on a weekday at 8AM. We made our only mistake of the trip in arranging a car from the airport to the Langhan Hotel.
We had upgraded the fight to upper class (1st) using points, and had splurged on a limo ride to and from the airport. We did not think ahead that driving into London on a weekday at rush hour was not the smartest thing to do. It took over 1 ½ hours to get there and it was a lesson learned.
We had booked a Tauck Tour for a week: 4 nights London and 3 nights Paris and I'm happy to report it was a great experience. The tour director was at the Hotel lobby and invited us to lunch with some of the group; then we went on a bus tour of the city and later a welcome cocktail hour and dinner. Although a bit jetlagged from the trip, the bus tour gave us a layout of the city. Amazingly, when we stopped at Buckingham Palace, we saw a big crowd##.We got some nice pics and autograph of the actor Vin Disel! ..Back at the hotel we decided not to nap and walked about a bit before getting ready for the dinner.
The cocktail hour gave us all (39 in the group) time to meet and mingle and dinner at the hotel was pleasant if not inspired. Clutching our schedules, we all went our separate ways to an early night.
After an amazing full English breakfast at the Hotel, we had an early departure for the Tower of London. Kelly, our tour director, managed to get us in there before any crowds had gathered and when we left, we could see lines to get in. We walked to the Thames to take a river cruise, which left us by the London Eye.
The 30 minute ride on the Eye is worth every minute.. Again, we were whisked in with very little wait (we had this perk throughout the trip; both in London and Paris) and the view from the Eye had all of us reaching for our cameras. Our very best picture of Big Ben and Westminster were from here. Time for lunch and free the rest of the day.
We chose to have the bus drop us off at Westminster and lo and behold we see a crowd.
Wondering if it's a line to get in to see a debate in the House of Lords/Commons, we get close and see this lady being led by the hand by a bishop looking person#Yes folks!
The queen was attending the services for one of her Ladies-in waiting that had just passed away. It happened so fast, by the time we were done saying "No way, that cant be the queen!" she was already in her car and gone. So, no pictures. Bummer
I have a friend that lived in London for 13 years and says that in all that time, she never saw the queen. Yet, we're there 15 minutes and almost have tea with her!
A cab to the British Museum to see the Elgin Marbles and the Rosetta stone, and a quick bite at the restaurant there. We could not stay as long as we wanted. We really needed an entire day or two here but we were on a mission: We had to find a camera shop for a lens guard George misplaced, so armed with our map, we walked for quite a while; but we were successful.
Walking back, we passed an enclosed garden with a gate. We later learned that the homes around it all have keys to the park and heard some lovely music. Getting closer we see a wedding reception in the park. The weather was lovely and we could see the food and drink being passed about. This made us hungry! so, as we passed an Italian Restaurant called ASK! we stopped for dinner. Nothing too fancy or expensive (for London) We had our pasta fix and back to the Hotel.
Marta & George Tamarac FL