Thursday, February 21, 2008

England: 13-20 February 2008

And so our trip began, much like all of our trips, with several days of pre-departure chaos. Jean's work was busy, my work was busy, and an ill-timed winter storm threatened our flights. However, the stars aligned, the snow changed to rain, and our ride to the airport arrived on time. We got to Logan at the recommended two-hours early for international flights.

The first bit of trouble came up when the ticket agent informed us that he could not find us on the itinerary because our tickets had been cancelled. That lead to a few minutes of anxiety but it had turned out that the travel agency had changed our flights but did not notify me. The good news is that we got a direct flight! The bad news is that we were WAY early. The worse news was that the flight was delayed. Jean and I suddenly had about 9 hours to kill at the airport. That's where I'm writing this right now, thanks to my portable keyboard and my Tungsten T/X. I love my digital gadgets!

Now, try to keep up, but I'm now writing on the flight home. Did you notice that subtle difference?

Anyway, after waiting several hours, we were finally wedged into our seats, the FAA required screaming babies were activated, and our flight across the pond commenced.

The first photo-worthy moment of the trip occurred while we were waiting to go through customs in London Heathrow Airport. While we were in line, Jean says to me, "Look, there's Ozzy."

I looked up, and holy shit, there he was—Ozzy.

We made it through the line in time for me to be one of the millions of annoying people he's had to endure in his decades-long career. Yep, I snapped a photo with the Oz-man. Hey, I paid full price for my Diary of Madman LP back in the day—he owed me.

To be honest, the only other stuff I remember from this trip are lots of stairs, lots of people, lots of museums, aching feet, bitter coffee, and an original copy of Sir Isaac Newton's Principia.

Jean had spent MANY, MANY hours planning out our itinerary, and that meant a tight schedule, miles of walking, and plenty of local beer sampling.

Our hotel, the Queenspark Hotel was noteworthy only for the diminutive size of both the elevator and our room. First, the elevator BARELY fit two people. Second, our room was what we'd expect on a cruise ship. The two of us could not stand or walk about the room at the same time—one would have to sit on the bed. But hey, we weren't in London to hang out in elevators or hotel rooms.

Anyway, as soon as we checked in (and to recap—this is after I worked an overnight shift, got 4hrs of sleep, after Jean and I waited at the airport for 10hrs, after a 6hr overnight flight where I got about 2hrs sleep), we hit the town to see the British Museum. Miles of amazing items, perhaps most notably, the Rosetta stone.

The next day, we started off by the River Thames, grabbed a couple of obligatory pics of Big Ben and Parliament, and then toured Westminster Abbey, the Winston Churchill Museum, walked all around downtown through Trafalgar Square and then hit the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery. Both were amazing.

I guess it would get pretty redundant for me to just describe our days because they were pretty similar. Plenty of walking (with literally hundreds of stairs each day) and lots of amazing things to see—the Tate Modern, the Tate Britain, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Museum of Science, the Museum of Natural History, the Courtald Art Museum—get the point?

One of the surprise treats was the British Library. They have a room with books, documents, scrolls and other works dating back more than a thousand years. For example, a copy of Beowulf from 976, a copy of Galileo’s first book, an original copy of Newton's Principia, letters from Darwin on his Beagle voyage, an original copy of the Magna Carta, and the list could go on. That was awesome.

Also on our trip we caught a theatre show—Spam-A-Lot, We were packed into the seats like contortionists, and we were high enough up that supplemental oxygen would have been helpful. It was an entertaining show, but I won't be running off to see any other musicals anytime soon. Sorry, all you "Cats" fans.

On our last full day in the UK, we took a tour out of London to see Warwick Castle (Jean wouldn't let me buy a souvenir sword), Stratford-Upon-Avon (the birthplace of William Shakespeare), and Oxford (as in home to Oxford University). It was a welcome change from the bustle of the city, but our tour guide was CREEPY. Dressed all in black, with gloves and a hat to match, he just seemed evil, and he looked like he ate the souls of infants for breakfast.

With that, it was time to pack all our dirty clothes back up, and make our trek back to the airport.
Expect more reflections from the trip soon, and in the meantime, check out the pics!


Steve Z Photography said...

Good grief! I can't even freakin' believe you were in England the same weekend as me . . . bloody hell! PS: the pictures on my blog are way better than yours, well, except i didn't see ozzy

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