London 2018 - Day Three

published

I woke up around 8, and read my book until Angela and Josie woke up around 10:30. We all got ready to go, and headed out for a day in downtown London.

We walked to Spitalfields market, and looked at the various wares there. It was a nice mix of crafts, handmade goods, and clothes. One very friendly artist was excited to talk to us about the shirts he was selling (and they were quite clever). We pressed on toward the Tower of London, which was our desired destination.

We didn’t go in, but instead hopped onto the Big Bus, for which we had purchased tickets the night before. We rode along the Thames and saw the Eye, Houses of Parliament, etc. Big Ben is undergoing repairs, so while the clock face is visible the rest of the tower is hidden by massive scaffolding. The tour guide on the bus spoke very fast, and was clearly reciting a script without too much enthusiasm. She had a couple of lame jokes, too. Josie had a hard time following along, so Angela tried to explain the major bits to her.

As we approached a pub called The Albert, the guide told us that during the Blitz the owner ran outside and screamed “If you spare my pub I’ll give you free beer for life!” We all chuckled,of course; then the guide pointed out that all of the buildings around the pub were new construction while The Albert itself was still original brickwork. It was both funny and a little sobering.

We hopped off after Buckingham Palace and had a nice lunch at a fancy restaurant. Then we hopped back on, rode past Trafalgar Square, and back to the Eye. Here we got off because we had Fast Track tickets to ride the Eye.

Pro tip: pay the extra couple of pounds for Fast Track. The regular line was enormous: like a line for a ride at a major amusement park. We walked right up and boarded the car in less than 10 minutes.

I’m not a fan of Ferris wheels, so wasn’t sure what to expect. The cars are relatively spacious, with a bench in the middle to sit down if one desires. The ride was smooth, and the view was great. Our car had several families in it with us, including one boisterous little boy who had no filter between anything he thought and what he said. It was pretty funny. There was also a trio of young women taking glamour shots of themselves. They struck many poses, pursed their lips a lot, and tried to have sultry expressions. Also rather funny, if you ask me.

Josie really enjoyed the Eye. She liked looking at the city, and took a few photos on her device. Afterward we did the 4-D experience inside the ticket building. It was hokey but also entertaining. And it was free, so no complaints.

We finally braved the Tube to get back home. We bought Travel Passes, and thanks to Apple Maps got home with no fuss: one tube stop, then a bus ride. We got to see a different part of London filled with regular people going home from work, and very few tourists.

Back at the flat we intended to try dinner at the Georgian restaurant around the corner, but alas they were closed. So we pressed on until we found a pub advertising plant-based meals. Upon entry the bartender told us that kids were not permitted in the bar space, and we’d have to sit in the dining space with Josie. No problem!

Food was good. Our server was a young man from San Diego. Angela didn’t even notice his American accent! His family moved to Belgium a couple years ago for his father’s job, and he decided to pursue his degree in classical music in London. He was very friendly.

Back at the flat after dinner I read a little more while Josie FaceTimed with her best friend. They talked for a long time. Angela and I made preliminary plans for Tuesday, looking at what castles were close enough to London to make an enjoyable but not exhausting day trip. I think we’re going to try Hever Castle, because it’s about 2 hours out and it has a couple of garden mazes!

I fell asleep around 9:30.


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