So it’s colder and rainier in Dallas today when I got home than it was in London. Seriously, we were expecting 40 degrees and rainy the entire time and we had absolutely glorious weather most of the trip. It was clear, sunny and low 50′s.
London is not for the faint of pocketbook or the weak of joints, but if you can manage the trip, it’s wonderful. I will say that this was our first (and only) trip on British Airlines. We’ve always flown on American, but through a series of circumstances, wound up with enough BA points for two business class tickets. We’ve always heard what great service they had on their TransAtlantic flights and were really looking forward to the fold-flat seats. I won’t belabor the situation here, but all things being equal, I’d rather pay money to American Airlines than fly BA again for free. Probably the worst part is that when we arrived at Heathrow, they parked us on the tarmac and we had to deplane using stairs, then they put us on a bus and drove us to the terminal. Do you know how big a Boeing 777 is? Do you know how many steps you have to go down to get out of one — carrying your bags? Do you know how stiff your joints are after flying for 10 hours? We went through the same procedure only backwards when we left today. Back on the bus, then lug your bags up the staircase to the plane.
But that was the only bad thing about the vacation. Everything else was wonderful.
As I said the weather was terrific and we took the opportunity to take the train up to Oxford and poke around one day. Part of the prison section of the old Oxford castle has been made into a hotel and we’re talking about staying there a day or so next time. Delightful small city with lots to see.
We scored some terrific half-price tickets to a marvelous performance of Shawshank Redemption. That’s one of my favorite movies and the play did not disappoint. We talked about going to see Cat on a Hot Tin Roof because James Earl Jones, Phylicia Rashad (Claire Huxtable), and the British actor that plays “Nickey” on Hustle were all in the cast. However, as much as we liked the cast, neither of us particularly care for the play, so we blew it off.
We actually took an open top bus tour which was a fun way to kill half a day, then went on our own tour of various train stations including Victoria, Saint Pancras (where Eurorail now goes from), Kings Cross, Waterloo, and Canary Wharf. I now have yet more pictures of architectural details to add to my collection.
We had some terrific food. A great little Italian place right across the hotel had closed since we were there in February, which was disappointing. They had great soup and wonderful pasta dishes and it was handy to just pop over for a light bite for dinner. We also loved the smoked haddock chowder at Lock Fyne seafood just north of the Strand. We waited 1/2 an hour for a table, then discovered they’d taken it off the menu. But we found some equally wonderful food. We discovered some fun new pubs and restaurants and revisited a couple of other favorites that we’d been to before. The best meal was at Pearl Restaurant which is Chef Jun Tanaka’s award-winning beautiful restaurant. It’s actually at our hotel, so we use that as a big conclusion to our trip, then go up, pack and get ready to hit the sack for an early morning trip back to Heathrow.
Overall, my joints didn’t complain too much, but there were a couple of days of walking miles on cobblestones and up and down steps that everything just hurt. We probably walked 3-5 miles each day and at least 100 steps. One day we popped up at a tube station just to find the 2-story escalator wasn’t working. I’ve found the secret is to take multiple pairs of walking shoes with different profiles and change them often, so you’re not hitting the same pressure points on your feet or working your leg and back muscles quite the same way.
Overall a terrific trip, but it’s good to be home. Not sure when my time zones will catch up with the rest of my body, but that’s a small price to pay for such a great time.
I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Thanks for checking in.