We made it to London safe and sound, and met my brother Rick no problems. That was after a walk that took forever from the departure gate. Customs was nothing. We took a cab to his flat. Just as well. Getting there is easy, once you see how, but I can see how it was hard to explain. Essentially, right out the back door of his apartment is a train station. From there, you connect to Waterloo Station, which is also an underground station, which takes you anywhere in London.
I'm going to rave about transit for a minute. Calgary Transit can't even dream of being this good. Above ground trains run every few minutes. From early till late. Every once in a while you have to check to make sure it goes to the station you want, and occasionally you have to make sure you're in the front cars for short stations. The underground is a total maze. I completely lost my sense of direction every time. But things are well signed, and you never have to wait for long. We had no problems getting around. The bus from Richmond to Hampton Court Palace was an eye opener. The driver took his bus into places at speeds I'd be relucant to take my car. Driving here is a much more co-operative venture than in Calgary because the space is so tight. I'd be a nervous wreck if I survived. I've got 30 some years of driving reflexes that are likely to lead me astray here.
It took us a couple days to get up to speed, but we saw lots of stuff. Lets see. In no particular order, London Tower, Tower Bridge, the light cruiser Belfast, Buckingham Palace, Chelsea Physic Gardens, Greenwhich Observatory, Hampton Court Palace, the Fan Museum, and a river cruise. In between, we saw lots of other stuff, such as Trafalger square, Sloane Square, Pickadilly, the Eye, and all sort of other places in between the above. Couldn't see Cutty Sark, it's being re-restored.
In addition to all that, I've enjoyed watching the people. Some are smartly dressed and completely put together as elegant as could be. Some shamble around like unmade beds. There are languages from all over the world. People walk down whichever side of the sidewalk seems convenient, and cross roads whenever there is a gap in the traffic. And BUSY!!! Just about everywhere we went there are more people on the sidewalks than just about anywhere or anytime in Calgary.
We're really pleased and having fun so far. Rick's flat is a great place to stay, and I really appreciate him opening it up to us. We'll be back here on the way home. There is so much to see here, that we could spend another month, and still have things to see. I think we'll be back.
I tried to update before leaving London, but it didn't work out. So this is actually from Venice the day after arrival. To bring you all up to date.
The Eurostar train from London is FAST! Very fast. Lots of wine if you like. Paris traffic is a nightmare. We swapped tickets for an earlier train, and just as well. We'd never have made it otherwise. The Gare de Bercy terminal was under construction. Shabby. Cold. Crowded. Not fun.
But the train itself was ok. Our porter has this great voice, rumbly and gravelly, and pretty good English. He took good care of us. I didn't hurt my elbow anymore than it already was rolling over in the bunk. We got into Venice in the morning, and promptly stood in line for local transit tickets. That was forever. The water taxi to Rialto Mercato to meet our apartment contact couldn't be easier, and couldn't be more scenic.
I LOVE VENICE!!!!!!