We have arrived. It took a couple of days and a variety of people moving machines, but we are finally in London! After being awake for a day and a half, or maybe two, our first impressions are a bit of a blur, so this post will be the short and sweet version of day one in London!
Ensconced in row 1 of the first class cabin on our spacious Boeing 777 (just one of the perks for having worked for American Airlines for 25 years!), Marty of course had the rather senior flight attendants in stitches and our favorite, Terry even tucked him into bed in his American Airlines jammies. Too bad neither of us could sleep, but it was nice to lay flat for a while and close our weary eyes.
We had hoped to be able to check into our hotel early, but no luck – this is August and everything is booked solid. So we changed into walking clothes, stowed our bags, and headed for the tube to town. We hopped off the tube at Piccadilly Circus, explored Trafalgar Square and strolled/fought our way down Parliament Street to see the sights. We hadn’t really made any specific plans yet, not knowing when we’d arrive, so we just enjoyed being in London, along with a gazillion other folks.
We’ve been hearing a blur of languages from other countries; France, Italy, Germany, Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East…oh and even from Kent, Great Britain! Funniest question asked of us today; “do you speak English?” This was a question posed to us out of the blue by a cute young British couple from Kent as we were walking in front of Westminster Abbey. When the woman spoke I thought I was hearing the voice of Adele, coming from a bleach blonde with crooked teeth and a sunny smile. She had two red-headed blue-eyed screaming kids in tow and her husband was a laborer of some sort but in his finest going to town duds. They were asking directions to Buckingham Palace and hadn’t found anyone yet who could help them in English! We dug out our map and showed them the route to take to Buckingham Palace, and then they walked off – in the other direction – maybe we don’t speak English!
After wandering a bit and grabbing a quick bite of lunch in a touristy pub served by our Eastern Europe wait staff (does anyone actually live in this town?) we headed to Westminster Abbey to begin with some sensory overload. Both of us have been in the Abbey before, but it’s an awe-inspiring place and it’s interesting to see what stands out on each visit. My favorite has always been the Lady’s Chapel, though I’m not sure why they call it that. It was built between 1503 and 1548, and when it was finished it was called the wonder of the modern world. There is a spectacular fan-vaulted roof with carved pendants in the rock; it’s simply stunning. It was hard to grasp the beauty of the place as crowded as it was, but we just parked ourselves in little quiet corners and gazed at the high arches and tried to take it all in.
Pretty soon our dogs were screaming, eyes were burning, and it was time to head back to the tube, to our hotel, to find a hot shower and a bed. Our first day in London was buzzzeeee and we’re a bit overwhelmed with the crowds, but we’ll persevere to see the sights we came to see, and try to enjoy all the chaos that is London in August. We are looking forward even more to the quiet back roads of a Highland glen in Scotland!