Friday, March 31, 2017

An Amazingly Lovely Afternoon

We got a bit of a late start to the day — we actually slept in, so I think we (well, 50% of us, anyway) have that jet lag thing beat.

We headed back to one of my (Gord's) favourite parts of town, along the river near the Globe Theater. We started at the Tate Gallery then wandered along the walkway, past the Golden Hind and up to Borough Market. I could spend days there. Such great food but still a bit of a zoo with all the tourists.
After a pint in one of the pubs nearby, we walked down by Tower Bridge and played tourist ourselves, taking too many pictures.

But back to the market! So much amazing food! Cheese rounds several feet across. Dried sausages. Heirloom tomatoes. So many kinds of breads. Artichokes, fish — and squid and octopus, too!

They don't mind photos being taken there — advertisements for their wares? So part of the photo-overload may come from knowing that some European markets react in the opposite way to non-buying people with cell phones.

Yum  Supper

Thursday, March 30, 2017

London with Shakespeare, Chaucer and John Webster

Jet lag, I know your name. And your nights of 2.5 hours of sleep, when my body thought I was only napping. So we did the logical thing — pack the day with activities so that we'd be far too tired not to sleep at night... A theory that, when tested, works well... For 50% of the sample group.

During the day, we visited the monuments of Trafalgar Square and neaby:

We also savoured the quiet loviness of the Church of St Martins in the Fields (aka, we now know, "the church of the ever open toilet doors" — perhaps too open for some, as the Men's, opening straight onto the cafĂ©, was handle-free...)

And Westminster Abbey.

I thought I could guess at what Westminster would be like, having seen other cathedrals and abbeys. But no — I was wrong. It was very different from my expectations. The vast open spaces are far away, high above the visitors, heads bent in prayer or towards their audio guides, high at the top of soaring, ornately carved ceilings. At walking level, on the other hand, the Abbey felt like a warren of small prayer and burial rooms, filled with reliquaries, effigies and art.

Overall, it's massive and massively impressive, and houses massive, multiple, beautiful tombs for British royalty and historical figures. Yes, I (Shelley) spent some time at Poets Corner, finding the memorials for Chaucer, Shakespeare, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and others -- including Handel, who was, I know was a composer of music... I missed Sir John A. Macdonald's plaque, but saw the stone for David Livingstone, I presume...

In the evening, we had dinner at The Swan, overlooking the Thames, then went through the connecting passage to Sheakespeare's Globe.  

We saw a candle-lit production of John Webster's White Devil. (By my count, 12 actors, 6 murders, 3 musicians — but I may have missed a strangling/poisoning/stabbing or two.)

We walked back to the Tube across the Millennium Bridge. 

It was a lovely mild, clear night, beautiful with lights sparkling on the river and the dome of St. Paul's glowing before us.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

London at Last

It seemed like a very long night but we did arrive pretty much when expected at about 2:00.
We were quick off the aircraft and finally snaked our was through Border Security, met by a customs Officer who after we explained our itinerary said "What a trip. Take me with you."
Then we managed to find the shuttle to the train station, pretty straight forward really, and into the train station. The train was due to leave in one minute and the guard said we were too late. "Catch the next Train"

We asked someone else who said "Run, you can still catch it" We pushed past the guard and down the escalator and there was the train  ready to go.  The doors were closed and we thought we had missed it.. We stood there a minute until we saw someone who  ran up and pushed a button by the nearest door,and the doors opened. It was our "Ah ha  moment." We pushed the button by our car, the door opened, we climbed on board and the train pulled out of the station.
The Gatwick - London Express lived up to its name and was pretty quick into Victoria station.
Off the train and onto the tube and got off at Earl's Court.

Our hotel, Hotel George,  is about a block and a half from the tube station. A lovely Victorian Row house converted to a hotel.

We are in the heart of Kensington, or so they claim. We wandered out for a drink before supper in a neat little pub a block away. We sipped our drinks and watched the bustle of the London rush hour with Double Decker buses, motorcycle couriers, emergency vehicles, cars and pedestrians all trying to claim their space on the narrow road.
It was lovely but  with nothing to eat but a yogurt for breakfast and nothing since, I was really fading fast.

We had a nice meal at Orjowan,  a Lebanese Restaurant and called it a night. By 9:00 I was dead to the world. At 01:00 we both woke up. I think our bodies thought it was just an afternoon nap.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Not off to the best Start

If we were travelling as promised, we'd be in the air by now but as luck would have it we have another three hours to wait here on Calgary until we are finally on our way. I am getting a bit fed up with the booming and somewhat irritating announcement which is repeated every few minutes.
 "Please consult the screen for departure information. Enjoy the amenities in the departure area until your flight is ready to board." Other than that it is peachy.

We will arrive in London now at 1:50 in the afternoon so if we are lucky we will make in into the city ahead of rush hour in the tube.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Beginning

We are just about ready to go. From home to Calgary then, Calgary overnight to London and we are on our way.

The blog title says it all but, if we count counties we pass through without stopping (Belgium) it would be up to six. And I counted our 26 hour stop in the Azores as a part of Portugal although I am not sure if it really is. I'll let you know when I find out.

I generally counted one leg of a journey as one train trip even though there might be more than one train involved. For example, after disembarking from the ferry we travel from the Hook of Holland to Rotterdam and then change trains and head to Amsterdam. I counted that as one train.

However, when we take the train from Bordeaux to Hendaye on the Spanish border and change onto a small regional train which will take us to our destination, San Sebastian, I counted that as two.

No matter how we calculate it we will see a lot of countryside and it is an adventure I am looking forward to.

We'll keep you posted.