Dear Mama and Daddy, and anyone else who ends up reading this,
We are safely at Conrad and Heidi’s. Our plane was late leaving London, but that was a good thing because the Underground (aka the Metro) was on strike, and everything was late.
This morning was what memories are made of. Not exactly pleasant at the time, but more fun to recall. Due to the strike, we couldn’t ride the bus downtown (too full), so we walked a mile and a half through Kensington gardens, and Hyde Park, down Rotten Row (a carriage walk made by one of the King Williams, I don’t know which one.) Halfway down the row, the horse guards were going through their paces. What fun to watch! And to top it off, a very nice (young) man walked with us most of the way, giving us directions, and after he left us (his path was the same as ours for part of the way), a sweet little old lady walked with us.
Sounds like a wonderful time, doesn’t it? Did I mention that it was raining? Not drizzling, although it did that for a bit, but RAINING? And that the wheels on my bag quit going around and around? It seems that the wheels were put on crooked, and they hooked onto the edges around them, and wore off part of the sides of the wheels, which then created more friction, and finally they quit working. So I carried THE BAG the rest of the way to a bus stop with a bus that we could ride.
We went to Victoria Station (That’s where you can leave your luggage in a locker, don’t you know.) Except that the Underground was closed, and there were no lockers. But for 24 pounds, we could leave our luggage at the lost and found/left luggage desk. We declined, and marched up the streets, with bags, to Buckingham Palace. Which apparently was closer to where we picked up the bus than to the station to which we had taken the bus. (We would have gone anyway, remember the luggage.)
We got there late, but that was okay. The guards were just starting. And the Queen was in residence! Her flag flies from the castle instead of the Union Jack if she’s there.
We watched the guards change. Rach found it anti-climactic, but most people do, and it’s still something everyone must see in London.
On our way back to Victoria Station, we were stopped on the edge of a road we needed to cross. Two horses, a horse-drawn carriage, two more horses, another horse drawn carriage, two more horses and three black cars later, we were allowed to pass. The Queen was receiving a visit from an ambassador, and I don’t know who was in the carriages (They were shut tight.), but it was still cool. I mean, how often does the Queen of England do anything that affects you personally?
By the time that was over, we headed down to Victoria COACH station (as opposed to the Underground station), and got our tickets to go to the Airport. Due to traffic, we had to leave immediately, and still were worried about time at the airport. We needn’t have. As mentioned, the plane boarded late, and then we sat on the airport and waited for the clouds to clear.
Finally in Portugal, we got to Conrad’s around midnight. Rachel is already in love with this place. (They have lots of good, strong coffee, and possibly the “second hottest guys in the world”. She said she’ll make a decision after this trip.) So now I need to go off to bed. We’ll try to call home tomorrow. I have my phone off right now because of the airplane, but once I get a chance to empty my bag, I’ll try to turn it on. I really don’t think I’ll use it much. Too expensive.
And that’s the news from Portugal, where the towels are big, the fruit is yummy and the beds are waiting.