09.10.2009 - 15.10.2009 56 °F
We touched down at London Heathrow bright and early the next morning. The only problem with sweet onboard entertainment is that you don’t sleep as much as you otherwise might. This was to cause some problems throughout our trip in London. British Airways flies into the new terminal and it was impressive. Sara’s chum, Neal, from Ohio University met us at the doors of the terminal. He kindly had taken the day off to pick us up and take us on a quick and dirty tour of Old London town.
Our first stop was for food at Hampton Palace. Hampton Palace is one of Her Majesty’s residences west of London.
It is most renowned for its hedge maze, which incidentally has the goal of getting to the middle, not exiting), and its many colors of brick from different phases of construction. At the palace, we had our breakfast and walked about on the grounds. The grounds were thoroughly beautiful and the coffee and cake truly hit the spot as we caught up on the goings on of the family Thathapudi .
Before leaving we made a quick itinerary of spots to hit, we made reservations at a local Inn, and got a pass to enter the congestion zone of downtown London. All cars that enter downtown during peak hours pay the special fee which can be done at some gas stations and news stands. Neal buzzed us around London for the next couple of hours. We saw Buckingham Palace, Notting Hill, Westminster Abbey, Parliament, and Big Ben in a whirlwind of key points. On the way to the Inn, jet lag finally got the better of me and I slept for the final twenty minutes. We crashed around one thirty that afternoon, and slept until breakfast the next day.
We used the first part of the next day to tour the small town of Watford. We had coffee and later a pint. We saw shops for bangers which we found out were various kinds of sausage and hot dog. We ate fish and chips, and tried to log on to the local wi-fi. We visited the sculpture of the Watford hornet, the mascot of their local football club. The wi-fi proceeded to rip us off and we got even further behind on our blog though the coffee was quite good. We watched some movies in our room. We bought tickets to see “Wicked” in London’s theater district, and hit the hay early hoping to maintain our readjusted time-clocks.
We managed to wake up early enough for breakfast and prepare ourselves to spend the afternoon with Neal and his family who graciously invited us to dinner. When he picked us up, he asked if we were interested in seeing the lads play Belarus in the church of football, Wembley Stadium. Not knowing anything about it but always being up for an adventure we said yes. We got the tickets for Wednesday and were on our way to lunch. His wife, Kirsty and his two girls, Madelyne, and Isabella, along with their puppy, Poppy were amazing hosts. We went for a walk in the wood and each of us got quite muddy. We ate lunch and played Karaoke on the Playstation where I learned Abba tunes and the words to popular hits from the 90’s. It was a thoroughly enjoyable day. Neal helped relocate us to our central London digs in Thornton Heath and left us to our own devices for the next couple of days.
The next two days we spent sleeping in late and then going to see plays. Wicked was Sara’s first choice and was very fun. At the theater, we picked up our newest hobby. We purchase the cheapest seats. We have a drink before the play, and order drinks ahead for half-time. Genius, no waiting in line…America take note. Then after intermission we sneak lower down to unoccupied close up seating! Awesome. The next day, I chose Othello. On the way there, we visited Trafalgar square and ate at a pub nearby. The performance was excellent and in the second half we sat in a private box facing the stage. Not too shabby.
On Wednesday after breakfast we packed our belongings and moved to another inn right by the airport. After depositing our bags, Sara and I went on a little shopping spree. I got a little jacket, darn it, it’s chilly in London. We enjoyed a light lunch at the boring, but reliable Subway. After this we began the journey back into town to meet Neal at Dollis Hill station on the way to Wembley.
After we met Neal, we had time to have a snack and meet his mom and sister. They were extremely friendly, and we enjoyed our traditional Indian snack from their home region. His mom gave us candy bars to sneak into the stadium—thanks!! Wembly was amazing and the game quite fun, though not as rowdy as we expected. We even got outfitted in England attire beforehand….Sara with her practice jersey, Mike in his cap, and Neal in his official jersey.
England triumphed over Belarus. We had fun cheering them on to victory. As we left Wembley, we herded like cattle to the tube (London subway station), all the while hearing shouts of “Green Army” from the crowd. Later, we found out what green army is about (google- "green army advert" if interested).
We have decided that London gets the”Nicest People Award” in our tourdeflor. We were surprised, too! Yes, everywhere we went people were very helpful and friendly and we look forward to getting back there in December. Before departing, we made reservations for our accommodations and planned to meet up with Neal and family again. We had such a genuinely good time. Cheers!
Tomorrow – head to Southeast Asia.