Thursday, December 13, 2012

You Are a Very Beautiful: London Day 5

November 11: Remembrance Sunday. The Poppy's were everywhere. That was lovely. The tube stations were filled to the brim with prim and proper and down-trodden alike, all wearing red poppies. We sort of missed the crowds (and the royals, drat!) so we were able to move about pretty freely this day. We even sat and watched the services on television and observed the moment of silence (and the hats).

This was our moving hotels day. As an aside, I should point out that Tom was actually there first and foremost to work (whatevs). He had a LOT of equipment between him and his fellow co-filmmaker. So they were lucky enough to be able to store their stuff in this nice hotel for the remainder of the trip (even when we were in France). So that was nice. Not so lucky on the way home, but that's the price you pay for a trip to Europe that you don't deserve.

Anyway, even with the lightened load, moving the remaining bags across the city wasn't exactly a piece of cake, but we managed - on the tube even!

Our new hotel, NOT paid for by the company, is a memory I'll cherish forever. It was something that would make Ikea salivate; if ikea decorated broom closets, which is what we were staying in. The bathroom was essentially the size of a laundry basket. You almost had to sleep with your suitcase on top of you, and you had to move in tandem to get around the room. It was awesome. Fun view too...

Before we parted ways with Tom's co-worker and wife, we made a plan to meet up at Evensong or at least the organ recital at Westminster that afternoon. From there we went to our respective coffins...erm, hotels, hotels!

After laughing at the fact that they even felt the need to include a mini bar in a room that was only the size of a mini bar, we decided it was time to get to Buckingham, but first we needed lunch. I had been begging for Indian food since we'd arrived, and I wasn't disappointed. We found this place on our walk to Buckingham. You eat in what appears to be bunkbeds. Not only was it an experience, the food was excellent. I think I ate the portions of 17 Europeans, which I think comes out to roughly 2 American portions if I've done the conversions correctly.

Then on to Buckingham!

We met with an American couple that took our picture and told us that they had already seen the Queen that day and met David Cameron (Prime Minister) the day before, just walking in the Portobello Road market with his children. With one security guard. We laughed about the state of security for that sort of thing in America. POTUS can't stand on a balcony without snipers in the wings, but the Prime Minister can buy novelty gifts among the people without having to remove all civilians and take pictures with two nice Americans from Boston.

We had heard since it was their Remembrance Sunday that we might get to see the afternoon changing of the guards since they had to post-pone the usual morning ritual. What we saw was some sort of changing, but it involved what appeared to be a strange dance, and a lot of walking back and forth, and switching of small hats for big fluffy hats.

But then they did walk out and we thought maybe the Queen had finally come to greet us, I mean, we told her the dates of our travel, and we know she's never stood us up before, but I guess she really sold out after her Diamond Jubilee. Whatever. I've got a day too you know, HRH Lizzie.

Anyway, we really enjoyed all of it but we had some big things to hit before our Westminster engagement so we quickly walked The Mall at the most beautiful time of day and got some pictures in Trafalgar Square after which we ran into The National Gallery. I wish we had more time, but unfortunately, we ran as fast as we could through it, took in some of our favorites, and then jetted for the tube to make the Organ recital.

 The National Gallery

Saw my favorite Renoir at the National Gallery and almost wept. I ran around a corner and stopped in my tracks..."The Umbrellas"...

 Thomas saw his favorite Turner (fitting with Skyfall just coming out)....

And oh, the Monets. Which I discovered are about as rare in Europe as graffiti in Oakland. So there you go Monet, I just compared you to a graffiti artist. My apologies.

We narrowly made it to Westminster in time to get in. It was a huge bucket list goal of mine to actually get to go inside Westminster Abbey (sorry, no pictures allowed inside). The history of this place kills me. And to hear an organ recital there? That ended up being unexpected icing on the cake. For remembrance day he played a compilation of songs by Bach. And he was the organist who played at William and Kate's wedding. So there was a geek out moment or two, but I kept my cool. I only said, "How diviiiiiiiiiine!" twice.  

We were all starving and in desperate need of a bathroom afterwards. And anyone who has been to Europe knows Europeans do not have bodily functions and thus have no need for bathrooms...anywhere. Freakin' evolve already Americans with your base human needs and desires.

But we did eventually get to a nice french restaurant that actually had food and a bathroom. Win-win.  We seemed to scare/horrify our waiter I think. He was scared stiff of us, and I don't even know why. That particular french waiter was apparently meeting his first Americans or thought one of us was famous, or the boogie man, or we ordered too American, or we didn't look like The Kardashians, or we smelled funny, or we were loud (even though we were very quiet)....I don't know.

But it was another perfect day and we were happy to go to sleep and gear up for our day 6, where we would leave the London metropolis behind and venture into the English countryside. WITH our own car. WITH Tom driving. ON the other side of the road. You won't want to miss that. But you certainly can.

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