Sunday, October 23, 2005
London-town, turn me around
I'm happy to report that my flight(s) were very uneventful, with the sole exception that my connection from Nashville to London was too short. So I was huffin' it through O'Hare at top speed. I was about three gates away when I heard the last call for me and one other passanger over the PA system. Whew! I just barely made it and would've missed it if I hadn't run from the G gates to the K gates - that's the entire length of the freakin' airport.
I was also pleased to see they had some decent films on the flight overseas. I chose to watch 'Batman Begins', which I really like perhaps more than any other Batman movie, and then got about 4-5 hours of sleep before landing in Heathrow.
(Just to give you a taste of what my international travels have been like, I'll have to post my account of the last time I was in London. It was so frought with problems that I thought Ashton Kutcher was going to come of a room and tell me I'd been punked dude! But that's for another posting.)
So far, the trip is shaping up to be much better than my last time out. Even the weather was quite pleasant for late October in England - temperate and sunny, though showers did eventually push their way in. Anyway, I have to deal with terrible jet lag if I nap after an international trip. So I combat jetlag by staying up at least until 7:00 pm local time and having dinner. Since it was only 10:30 am local time when I checked in, I had a full day ahead of me. So I took a shower and decided to grab some lunch.
I chose not to eat at this place:
They said the food was tangy and twangy, but I just had to say no and go for some fish and chips. After lunch, I went to the best place you can go on a Sunday afternoon on a fall day in London - Hyde Park. Now, Hyde Park is a beautiful place to begin with. But Sundays are especially nice because local artists come out by the dozens maybe even hundreds to display and, they hope, to sell some of their work. They set up all along the fenceline separating Hyde Park from Bayswater Road. It looks like this:
For some reason, I only took one picture of Bayswater Road and it's not a really good one with a lot of artists. But I hope you get the idea.
I was able to find some really cute local art for Kelly and the girls. So now I just have to figure out something for Dylan.
Hyde Park is probably the biggest park in all of London and it is quite beautiful. My favorite part within the Park is the "Italian Gardens" which is right by the Lancaster Gate and a very nice hotel called the Royal Lancaster, which I've stayed at twice in the past. The Italian Gardens stretch all throughout the Park on a sort of north-south trail following a creek and lake. Here's a fairly nice pic of one view of the Italian Gardens:
A few other interesting things were immediately evident. For example, despite our high gasoline prices, they still have it worse in the UK and I assume the rest of Europe. Gasoline here was about 1 pound per liter. That's almost $1.80 per liter or about $6 per gallon. Yikes!
From Hype Park, I headed back east towards my hotel and the Bloomsbury neighborhood of London. However, I struck by a site I'd never seen before. Since I was missing Kelly and the kids already, this scene had me fighting back tears. It was the hidden Children's Cemetary of Hyde Park. There were about 100-120 tiny tombstones in the little cemetary. All the epitaphs said things like "Our Little Cyp, 1891-1894" or "Sweetest Cynthia, 1890-1896" on monuments that weren't much bigger than an issue of Time magazine. So sad...
I paused and wondered what had taken all of these beloved children from their families? Was there some sort of plague that swept through London in the late 1800's that required quick and unsophisticated burials or did the English simply decide to bury all of their children together at that time for some unknown reasons? It was a mystery that I couldn't solve, but left me yearning for my own kids to hold and embrace.
Between Hyde Park and Bloomsbury lies the extremely popular shopping district called "Oxford Street". I spent quite a bit of time window shopping and even went into a few stores. This kind'a place would be heavenly for Kelly, but it was just plain ol' tiring for me. I'd probably already walked 4 or 5 miles by this time. So at this point, it was time for a Starbuck's Mocha to recharge me and get me back to the hotel. On the rest of the trek back to the hotel, I encountered lots of other beautiful architecture - London is just full of it, such as the Sicilian Avenue:
Everywhere you look, every surface is covered with polished granite and tile. If you like stone in your architecture, you'll love London.
Now I'm contemplating dinner and bed but I wanted to let you know about my busy day. I hope your Sunday was a wonderful day too.
Cheers from da...
London's theater was the very best part of my stay there. Well, that and shopping at the East End street markets on Saturday morning.
My brother lived in London for a couple of years and flew me over in '92, I think. It was, unfortunately, a short trip and I didn't get to do much touristy stuff.