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UK/Scotland Trip of 2002 - Page 2

 

Jason, our 'London Experience' guide.

London Experience Tour - Monday, March 25, 2002

The day was spent on an all day London tour called "The London Experience". By name, it was the same tour Cindy and I took in 1998, but the tour was vastly different. Frames-Rickard, the company that hosted our tours last time, has been bought out by Golden Tours. I'm sure some of the differences are attributed to that. I'm also sure that each guide puts his own personality stamp on the tour.

Our guide was Jason, a tall slim gentleman who was easy to spot in a crowd. Our driver was Jane, who was very quiet. All we heard from her was "good morning".

We nearly didn't get Jason. They hadn't counted the number of tourists properly and we had too many to fit into one bus. They split us up. Since the second busload filled only half the capacity of the bus, our party all got window seats.

Our first stop was Westminster Abbey.

Cindy and I didn't visit Westminster last time we were here because our guides abruptly quit taking their tours there. The clergy was feeling that the sense of a place of worship was being overcome by the bustle and noise of tourists. They had just made stricter rules about how many tourists could be admitted at a time and where the guides may speak. They had also started charging for people to enter. I'm glad they went this route. It isn't just a museum, after all. At one point during this visit, a clergyman, who had ascended the lectern, requested us all to pause and pray for peace for mankind.

We entered through the cloisters, stopped for a few words of explanation from Jason, and then went into the sanctuary. As Kevin said, it seems a bit smaller than it does on television, but its high vaulted ceiling was breathtaking. The sense of history there is staggering, particularly since it concerns my own ancestors.


Different views of Westminster Abbey

After leaving Westminster, the bus took us to Carlton House, the Prince Regent's home. We walked down to the Mall. The Changing of the Guard wasn't taking place since it was the 25th (even days only in March) so we saw the Horseguards (the Household Cavalry) at Whitehall. Then we walked up the Mall through St. James' Park. When we got opposite Marlborough House, Jason told us to hike on up to Buckingham Palace for pictures, but be back in 15 minutes. That seemed too far for us in such a short time, so we got a shot of the Palace looking down the Mall.

From there, we walked to the Albert Pub and had a great lunch. Cindy and I ate there after the Jack the Ripper Tour in 1998. I'd had fish and chips then, so sticking with my “pub fare” theme I tried shepherds pie this time. Very, very good.

After we ate, we took a drive through the City of London. Jane halted the bus on Waterloo Bridge while Jason pointed out the two cities of London, the other being Westminster.

Our river cruise was a quick excursion to see the sites from a different perspective. It was also quite calming. We took off from near Cleopatra's Needle rather than St. Katherine's Dock as Cindy and I did in 1998.

The White Tower, built in 1097, is the oldest part of the fortress. A cherished Tower raven keep an eye on the tourists. Traitor's Gate, the "original one-way street" into the Tower of London from the Thames River.

The Tower of London was busy, of course. We made a beeline for the Crown Jewels. All of us came out of there with our mouths dangling open. Pretty amazing. We were getting tired, so we skipped going to the White Tower, the oldest of the buildings.

By the time we reached St. Paul's Cathedral, we were too pooped to do anything but take pictures from a lovely garden outside. As far as I know, no one from our tour actually went inside St. Paul's. Glad Cindy and I went last time.

We had a wonderful dinner at the buffet in the hotel. We certainly have been lucky with the food and weather this trip. Everything is superb.



Shopping Day, 'My Fair Lady' - Tuesday, March 26, 2002

I had intended to copy my trip diary on disk and take it to the internet café this morning to update my website. However, I couldn't save anything to my floppy disk drive. I even tried to reboot a couple times. No luck. Therefore, that didn't get done. Oddly enough, after we got home from 'My Fair Lady' this evening, it would save, so I did. Blasted computers!

We all met in the dining room for our continental breakfast. Wow, what a nice variety.

I started out the day in fair shape, but soon my feet began to hurt and I began to drop behind. I'm afraid I slowed everyone down today and I feel really badly about it.

Colorful Portobello Road, where we did an antique crawl. 
Disney's 'Bedknobs and Broomsticks' included a song about shopping along Portobello Road.

Kevin wanted to do some antique shopping, so we went to Portobello Road. I don't think Kevin found what he was looking for, but we all had fun looking at stuff. I found a goose Easter egg, which I bought. Cindy, bless her heart, offered to buy one of the decorated quail eggs for my birthday, so I picked out a lovely little egg covered in beads. Very pretty!

After that, we worked out how to get to “Divine Harrods”, as a shopoholic character in I book I read called it. We all bought souvenirs and drooled over the chocolates. I didn't buy much of anything. Too expensive.

We stopped off at the Central Market at a Covent Garden cafeteria for a small late lunch, and then took our separate ways back to the hotel.

I rested the next couple hours, and then we all met for dinner at the hotel buffet. Afterwards, we walked to 'My Fair Lady'.

The Theatre Royal Drury Lane is very ornate with gilded carvings everywhere. It has a marvelous history and it was astounding to think of all the famous actors that had graced the stage.

The musical itself moved along quickly. Scene changes were done with moving platforms and flats dropping in from the fly space. The woman who played Eliza was good, but we all loved the two men playing Colonel Pickering and Henry Higgins. We also like the blocking change in the ending. Higgins gives Eliza a command to fetch his slippers. Eliza crosses her arms and ignores him. Higgins crosses his arms, and then they look at each other and laugh.

After the play, we dropped in the Boulevard Brasserie for desert, which was scrumptious, then came home for bed.

 



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