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Mike and Adele's European Vacation

Part 4: London

Friday, May 21, 1999

Adele: Up really, really early and off at a break neck speed to catch the ferry at Calais. The crossing was blessedly smooth, so I didn't puke.

White Cliffs of Dover
White Cliffs of Dover in British industrial haze.

We then drove from Dover to London. It was especially interesting because Mike navigated and Donn's steering wheel is normal (keep left). The 3 maps we had went from level of detail Here is England, to This Dot is the Village we are In, to 1 mile = 1 mile.

Mike: Luckily, we made it safely to the hotel. We couldn't check into the rooms yet, so we secured our bags and since we were hungry, proceeded across the street to a Belgian restaurant. The food was very good, but they only served Belgian beer.

After having a good lunch, we proceeded down the southern bank of the Thames toward the Tower of London.

Mike feeling up statues
Mike feeling up British statues along the Riverwalk!

The riverwalk will look nice a few years when all the millennium projects (renewal) are finished.

Millennium Bridge Plan
What the Millennium Bridge is supposed to look like.

Millennium Bridge under construction
What it looked like six months before the millennium.  Oh, well, maybe next millennium, Tony.

Globe Theater
Replica of the Globe Theater along the riverwalk.

Of note, on the walk is replica of the Golden Hinde where there were hundreds of French school children (I think we mentioned that they were at Versailles, on our ferry, and now on the street of London. I wish I went to school in France. It seems they go non-stop on endless field trips).

Golden Hinde replica
Replica of the Golden Hinde.

Tower of London and Tower Bridge
The Tower is at the left and the Tower Bridge is at right.

Adele: We made it to the Tower of London. We took the tour. Phil, our Beef Eater Guide, told great stories. We then went to see the Crown Jewels. It is much better than it used to be. They put you on a conveyor belt to keep you moving, then you can go back around as often as you like. 11 year old Amber would have had a field day!

Crown Jewel castle
Where the Crown Jewels are kept.

Tower of London
The actual Tower of London.

Bored Tower Guard
A really bored Tower guard.

We went exploring on our own. They have taken the area where the Jewels used to be and are recreating what it looked like in Edward I's reign. There was an historic re-enactor there answering questions.

Edward I in his castle
The re-enactor portraying Edward the First.

We also saw lots of armor, one for a 6'9" man and the tower where Lady Jane Grey and Sir Walter Raleigh stayed.

Adele and my parents at the Tower
Adele with Mike's parents by the tower where Lady Jane Gray was a guest.

Mike and his parents
Mike and his parents at the Tower of London.

Tower Bridge
The most important thing I learned?  That this is the Tower bridge and not the actual Tower of London.

The tower closed and we walked back, exhausted and dehydrated to our hotel. Mikey took a little nap before dinner. I called John, he was out. Then, we just had fish and chips in the hotel and went to bed early (after watching South Park in the lounge).

Saturday, May 22, 1999

Adele: Slept in so we'd be less grumpy. We finally set off around 11 am. We walked the Thames past Cleopatra's Needle.

Cleopatra's Needle Obelisk
Mike by Cleopatra's Needle.

Up to Trafalgar Square, where a football pep rally for Newcastle United was going on. Everyone was dressed in black and white stripes. Nelson's Column looked like a cheap pub after last call and smelled worse than a public toilet!

Soccer fans in Trafalgar Square
Soccer hooligans have taken over Trafalgar Square!

The flying rats in Trafalgar Square!  Moments later, the hooligans scared them all off...

Nelson's Column
Nelson's Column.  Smelled like piss and beer.  Nelson would not be amused.

We then went to 10 Downing St. We got to admire the Kosovo War protesters. There were no Queen's guards at 10, instead armed bobbies!

Queen's guard
Queen's guard.

10 Downing Street
The closest we could get to 10 Downing Street.

Kosovo Protestors
The reason we couldn't get closer to 10 Downing Street.

We walked past Parliament and Big Ben.

Big Ben! Parliament!
Look kids!  Big Ben, Parliament!

Then, to Westminster Abbey where they wanted 5 pounds to get in. IT'S A CHURCH!!!! OUTRAGEOUS!! Needless to say, we didn't go in.

Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey, where you gotta pay to pray!

We walked up to Buckingham Palace, again armed bobbies.

Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace.

Finally, to Picadilly Circus. It was a big shopping day and the place was a circus (ba dump pum). We tried to buy shot glasses at Planet Hollywood, but they were out. So, we tried the Fashion Cafe, but they don't drink, too many calories.

Picadilly Circus
The Cupid in Picadilly Circus.  It was the only thing not covered by scaffolding.

We had lunch at an Indian restaurant. It was great. We then went off in search of the Hard Rock. We were given bad directions and walked a 3 mile circuit when ½ mile in the other direction would have been better! We bought shot glasses, had a beer, and ran into Donn and Mary who had been walking in Hyde Park.

We then took the tube to St. Paul's. They only wanted 4.50 pounds to get in, but since church was letting out, Mike just snuck in. I was exhausted and sick (sore throat) so we took the tube back to the hotel. I tried to call Mom again, she was out. So, I called Ber.

St Paul's Cathedral
St. Paul's.  A relative bargain at 4.50 pounds (or just tell them you are with the choir!)

After a talk with Ber, I called John for the 4th time and got his flat mate, Andy. Unfortunately, John's dad had a stroke, so he's in Manchester.

Mike and I had dinner in the hotel. Donn and Mary joined us for dessert. I came up to get my phone card to call Mom again. When I went back on the elevator, a cat got off on our floor!?! It was weird. I came down and the cat's owner was looking for him, so I pointed her in the right direction. I called Mom. All is well at home. Now, I'm being a wet blanket and going to bed because my throat hurt really bad!

Mike: Today while at Westminster Abbey, Adele had to go to the bathroom. While she was gone, there was an anti-war protest. A German tourist asked a British lady what was going on. She explained to him that the people were protesting war. They were playing with a parachute. He asked how playing with a parachute could stop the war. He didn't understand anti-war protests. The British woman kept trying to explain it to him, but he wasn't getting it. Finally, his wife came back and asked what was going on to which he shrugged his shoulders.

Continue on to Part 5: Canterbury