I meant to post this for while I was on vacation, but forgot. Since it will take me a couple days to get myself together I thought I would start posting my travelogue about my European Discovery trip. Once I get my stuff from this past trip together I will post about it. But all went well, had lots of fun.
Here is day 1 and 2…
Day 1 (May 8): New York to London
I got up at 4am and took an 8:20 flight out of NY (Newark Liberty Airport) to London Heathrow. I flew Virgin Atlantic, one of the best airlines. The only complaint I would have about them was that the boarding was disorganized, but I got on the plane so it obviously wasn’t a big deal. The plane had a pretty cool entertainment system, you could watch movies or TV shows, play games, track the flight, and get info on destinations. I watched Meet the Fockers, it was ok, the commercials looked better. I also watched Bridget Jones Diary, the sequel, not that great, the first one was better. The food was ok.
My plane landed at 8pm local time. When I got off the plane I made myself quickly through customs and easily followed the signs to the Underground. I took the Piccadilly Line about an hour to the Russell Square Station. I was impressed with the London Underground, the trains were nice and quiet unlike the NYC subway. After dragging my bag up a half flight of stairs and taking an elevator the rest of the way up I was finally really in London. What was the first thing I would see? A bum, I had to come all the way to London to see a bum! So I made a left turn out of the station like I had previously been advised, and then decided that it didn’t seem right (perfectly logical since I had never been to London before) and turned around. After walking 2 blocks I learned the error of my ways and turned back and walked past the bum for the third time. I found it a little difficult to get around since I couldn’t find a street sign anywhere, I thought I had seen one, but in retrospect I think it was a sign for something else.
Eventually I made my way to the Imperial Hotel and checked in, it was now 10pm. I was given a single room, #452, even though I had paid for a double, but I didn’t complain as it would be nice to have some privacy. I room was pretty small, and a little lonely by myself so I went for a walk. I found the Contiki Basement, which was closed, and a little store where I bought some water and apples. I also called home to let the family know I had gotten in ok. I got to bed around midnight and tried not to think about how early it would be if I was at home.
Day 2 (May 9): London
Today is a free day to explore London…
I woke up at 7:30 so I would have an opportunity to see as much as possible in London. I didn’t sleep well, and ended up only getting about 4 hours of sleep, ughh! It wouldn’t be quite so bad, but I hadn’t slept well the 2 previous nights. After showering and getting dressed I made my way to the Contiki basement, but the internet wasn’t working so I headed out sightseeing. I took the Big Bus Company bus tour, it was one of those hop on and off tours. I was feeling a little intimidated by London after having gone the wrong way the first night when I got out of the Tube. I changed buses at Trafalgar Square and two stops later got off because I decided that I was feeling brave enough to do the Royal Walking Tour. I just hadn’t really worked out my times well and ended up wasting a bit of time this morning. But, I did have an opportunity to take a walk around Trafalgar Square, where they were cleaning up from the VE Day celebration the previous evening, and I found a cute little market.
So off I went on the Royal Walking Tour. First we went by the Gentelmans Clubs (not that kind, the British Royalty kind) on Pall Mall. Then it took us to St. James Palace, and down The Mall to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the Guard. It was cool, but what a waste or time and money for the British Government! After that we took a little walk around the Palace and ended the tour. I grabbed a quick lunch at a little cafe type restaurant.
After lunch I got back on the bus and headed to the Tower of London, passing the London Eye and London Bridge along the way. William the Conqueror built the initial White Tower here, and it grew from their. Apparently they killed a lot of people at the Tower of London, the records indicate the number is in the 300’s, but they found the remains of over a 1,000. Hmmmm. I missed a bit of the guided tour as it had started to rain and I didn’t have my umbrella. It was a shame really, aside from being cold, the weather had been nice the rest of the day. I should have known, I was in London. While I was here I got to see the Crown Jewels, quite impressive, but not really my taste.
After the Tower of London I headed back to the hotel so I could rest a bit before the Pre-tour meeting. At the Pre-tour meeting I met Hans, our Tour Manager, and Reuben, our driver. I also met Ali, Lisa, Anne, Maya, Alberto, Mike, Michael and Monica, Roshni, and Kreena. After the meeting a bunch of us went to The Goose, as was recommended by Mike. I think his exact words were, “we’re goin to The Goose.” At the Goose Mike pushed wine on Maya, making me think he would be a total pain in the ass the whole trip. He ended up pissing off a couple people that night. In the end though Mike really was a sweetheart who was always willing to help everyone, he would just take a couple dozen pictures in the meantime. After a bit I headed out with Kreena and Roshni for dinner at the restaurant at the Imperial Hotel, as I hadn’t had dinner and was starving. I tried to get to bed a bit early so I could be well rested for the trip.