May 23, 2008 – Friday : London
London is amazing! After we landed at Heathrow Airport at about 3:00pm local time, we got our packs from baggage, went through customs and headed to our hotel. We bought a 7-day subway card and followed the signs for Victoria Station. Our hotel, Elizabeth House, in in Westminster and is a very quaint rickety old building. The staff have been wonderful and helpful. Our room is a tiny 9×8 room with 2 twin beds which we have pushed together. The walls are a dirty white on the top half and a very strange shade of lavender along the bottom. There’s a small sink in the corner with a mirror and a perfect little window overlooking the backs of a bunch of row houses. It’s fun to peak in the windows and see people in their daily lives.
After checking in, we went for a walk to stretch our legs from the long flight. We meandered through charming streets passing cute cafes and pubs full of business people. We stopped for some dinner and then headed back to our room for some much needed sleep.
Today has been a busy day packed as full as we could get it. We bought tickets for a hop-on-hop-off bus tour and rode the entire bus route. In the 2 1/2 hours it took us to everywhere we wanted to see and we learned a ton about London. (As cheesy as touristy activities are, you can learn so much from them.) I got a really good layout for the city and can now navigate fairly well. Once the bus tour was over, we hopped onto a boat tour which was included in the price of the bus tour. We took a 1 1/2 hour boat ride down the Thames… from “Big Ben” to Greenwich. It was a wonderful trip and the guide was really entertaining. Once in Greenwich, we hiked up to the Conservatory and where the median of the world is longitude 0. We went through the free museum and learned about charting and stars and navigating the oceans. We also learned about time and how they make clocks. This is where people always feel obligated to take the “I’m standing on both sides of the world” picture.
We took the boat tour back to Big Ben and set off to see if we could get tickets to “Phantom of the Opera”. It’s one of Nate’s favorite plays and I have never seen it so we thought that seeing it in London would be the greatest way to see it. Unfortunately, it was sold out for the next week so we decided to get tickets to the 7:30 show of “Les Miserables”. A very good runner up to “Phantom”. After grabbing a dinner of fish and chips at the Silver Fox in Trafalgar Square we headed to the theatre. What an experience! It was so much fun to be at a theatre in London and to be part of the crowd. Some people were dressed casually and others were glamorously attired with evening gowns and tuxedos. Nate and I felt slightly out of place in our hooded sweatshirts and sneakers but once the lights went down it didn’t matter what people looked like. We sat about 15 rows back from the stage and it was a perfect. The play was great and the actors were amazing. Nate had to buy two cups of coffee during the breaks to stay awake but I was riveted by the energy and excitement of it all.
Nate’s asleep as I write this… it’s been a long day. I”m trying to just take it all in and appreciate every moment– even the ones where we’re sleeping.