Day 4: Tater Leaves London

This was the day we were to leave London and experience more of the country. We weren’t scheduled to pick up the rental car until 1, so we had some time to walk around a bit after breakfast. According to my phone, the area we walked was the Camden/Barnsbury area. We also went back to the British Library to see if the exhibits were open. The sign in the library had said they would be, but an employee had told us they wouldn’t open until we were gone. The sign turned out to be correct and we were able to tour the exhibits before we left. My daughter was excited about seeing the Magna Carta. I was excited about the literature section.

We then picked up the rental car and headed out-of-town. It was the first time any of us had driven on the opposite side of the road, so I was a bit stressed about that. As is the norm, my wife was the driver and I gave the front passenger seat to our on so I could hide in my book and my music so I wouldn’t stress everyone out worrying about her driving. She did fine and acclimated quickly and we made it safely out of town and to Oxford.

I could have done the Oxford day in combination with the next day, but there is a story to tell about our first big blow up of the trip later. We parked in a park and ride lot and rode a bus in to town.  When we arrived, there was an argument between the kids on what to see first. My daughter wanted to head over to Oxford Castle first and then see the rest. My son wanted to go to the Museum of Natural History first because it closed early. My daughter knew he would spend a lot of time there and she didn’t want to risk missing other things. So, we decided to split up. My wife and son would go to the museum and library first and we would go to the castle and then down that direction. It was decided that we would meet at the cross in the street when we were done. So, we headed to the castle, but opted not to do the tour. We saw what we could see without paying and then walked around town. We walked past the cross in the street several times before figuring out where it was. At that point, we knew we might have issues with the meet up later. We walked down and saw the Bodleian Library and the sites along the way. Oxford ia a beautiful city. We then headed back to the meet up spot.

Of the four of us, my wife is the only one who had a phone with international service(for work purposes) and the rest of us rely on wi-fi the entire trip. It works for the most part, but is not convenient if we split up. This is a case where splitting up was a bad thing. We headed back to the cross on the street area, found a bench nearby and waited for my wife and son. We walked back and forth to the cross n the street several time to make sure we didn’t miss them. After a while, my daugher walked down to the library to see if they were still there. We did not spot them. I finally took off to find wifi so I could send a message to my wife to check on them. Even after I told them where we were, they somehow went to the wrong spot. After a few cranky messages, we found each other. Ut turns out they couldn’t find the cross in the street so they waited further up the street and somehow thought we would still find them. Further complicating matters, they had gone directly from the museum and did not tour the library as they said they would. So, they walked down the street to their location while we were off the steet and in the library. None of us we re in a good mood after all of this. We then went to the pub for dinner where three of us ordered fsh and chips only to find out they only had one fish left so two of us had to order different food. An iritating end to a visit to a great town.

We then headed off to our hotel in Bourton on the Water, a beautiful little town in the Cotswolds. The owner of the hotel was a verhy nice guy who helped our mood tremendously. We had a nice walk through town and then rested up for a long day the next day.

Walking stats: 26,389 steps. 5 flights climbed. 9.8 miles.

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Tater Takes London: Day 3

Our third day in London started at my favorite attraction in the city, the Tower of London. We followed the advice of Rick Steves and arrived right at opening time with pre-purchased tickets and walked in with no line. We also followed his advice and went straight to the crown jewels before the place was packed. If you go to the tower,  I recommend following this advice. You will spend several hours touring the tower. It is a large, interesting place. I’m petty sure it was my kids’ favorite as well.

We left the tower and walked across Tower Bridge. We headed toward London Bridge and Borough Market. I had forgotten that these were the locations of the attack last year until we came across the memorials. It was back to being a bustling market. It was huge and had just about anything you could possibly want to buy. We only had coffee and ice cream.

After a walk through the market, we got on the train and headed out to Greenwich to see the prime meridian. I was not very excited about the trip to Greenwich, but it turned out to be very interesting. If you have extra time, I would recommend going out. We once again opted for the bus back to central London. This time was less stressful since no one had a specific time they needed to be back.

I had to go back and look at my pictures to remind myself what we did next. It was a long day. We got off the bus down by the river and walked by Globe Theatre, took in the view from the top of Oxo Tower, walked back across the bridge to see St Paul’s and headed back to the hotel for a few minutes and then went out for a late, after dark trip to see Abbey Road before we left the city the next day.

Walking stats: 30,747 steps. 48 flights climbed. 11 miles.

Tater Takes London: Day 2

Our first full day in London started(after breakfast) with a trip over to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guard. On the way, we stopped for a photo-op at a phone booth.

I don’t remember this being such a mob scene when I was last there 20 years ago. We were about an hour early getting to the palace and people were already surrounding the area waiting for the event. It got even more crowded over the hour. The ceremony also seemed to be bigger than back then as well, but I may be misremembering that. It’s fun to see once, but if I go back again, I will skip this.

We then headed over to the Churchill War Rooms. I was really surprised at how long the lines were. We were told the wait to get in without a timed entry ticket was 1.5 hours. As we were looking online to see about buying tickets for the next day, the line suddenly started moving, so we waited. The wait was a lot shorter than expected and we were able to get in. It was a very interesting museum and I had it eventually tell the kids that they had to move faster through so we could get to our next destination. I would highly recommend this.

We then walked past Westminster Abbey on the way to the Houses of Parliament. My daughter wanted to sit in on a Parliament session, so we only took pictures of the abbey and didn’t go in. At Parliament, we were told that it was too full and we should check back in an hour. While we waited we went back to the Supreme Court building that had a free entry sign out front and ended up sitting in on a trial there. We then went back, got in to Parliament and sat in on a session about retail issues.

From there, we walked across Westminster Bridge to get a photo of Big Ben and then took the Underground to Kensington, walked through the gardens to the Albert Memorial and the Diana Memorial Fountain.  We had a few issues getting to the area where we planned to eat dinner due to a major fire in an expensive hotel(pop star Robbie Williams was there and evacuated) blocking most of the roads to the station.  We made it to the pub, walked down to Downing Street and Trafalgar Square and then took the bus back to the apartment.

The bus ride was good, but slow, which stressed out my son who had a Skype interview that night and barely made it back in time. He got off the bus a stop early and ran to the apartment. The two of us went out after to a local craft beer place where we ran in to a random student band dancing down the street.

It was a long day, but very fun.

Walking stats: 26,414 steps. 29 flights climbed. 9.5 miles.

Tater Takes London: Day One

I never did get around to blogging about my trip while I was on my trip. Now, I have multiple days worth of trips to post about and I’m not sure the best way to do it.  I will try a new post for each day of the trip and change if it seems to be a be too much. If you are my friend on Facebook, you have already seen all of my picture dumps there.

We arrived in London at 9:30am at Heathrow. We got our Oyster cards for the transit system)a very convenient and easy process) and headed off to our hotel. Our final stop in London before walking to our hotel was Kings Cross Station where we found Platform 9 3/4. img_0314

We stayed in a two bedroom apartment owned by the Jesmond Dene hotel. It was a very nie place, nice enough that I would have been happy to stay there the entire trip. The staff was very nice. They stored our luggage for us since we were there early and then dropped it at the apartment once it was ready so it would be waiting for us when we were able to check in. They also served a very nice full English breakfast every morning.

If you are going to London, I would highly recommend booking an apartment with them.

The hotel was very close to the British Museum and the British Library, both free. Since we were tired and had less time, we focused on these two attractions on day one. The British Museum was very big and impressive, but other than the Rosetta Stone,

there’s not much there that is that different from what you would find in a museum elsewhere(I maybe wrong about that, but that was my impression). We then headed down to the library only to discover the exhibit center was closed and there was a chance it would be closed the entire time we were in town.  So, I took some pictures of the King’s Library

and the Newton statue outside

and we moved on to the next item on the agenda: finding a place to buy fish and chips.

We did find a chippy, bought dinner and then headed off to the apartment to rest up for day 2.

Walking stats for the day: 17,293 steps, 10 flights of stairs climbed, 6.8 miles.

Graduation Day

Today my daughter graduates from high school. It’s an outside ceremony and luckily our constant rain seems to be taking a break long enough for this to happen. We have two extra people and an extra dog in the house and our son is home. The day the company leaves, the four of us leave for London. This might be my last post for two weeks. Please try to contain your joy. Then again, I might do some travel blogs from overseas instead of waiting until we return. How’s that for suspense?

Please excuse any typos. I am doing this on my phone and I’m old.

Some Observations About Posts And Comments I Read Yesterday

If you spent your day defending someone who posted racist comments online, I am going to think that you think it is OK to be a racist.

If you are going to boycott a network because they don’t want to employee a racist, see above.

If you think the fate of a racist sitcom star is going to divide our nation to the point of danger, you must not think much of our country.

If you are defending the person who did this, but think football players kneeling during that song should be kicked out if he country, I will question your motives.

If you are OK with Roseanne being fired, but mad about the men who were fired for sexual harassment, I will assume you think men are superior to women.

If you think it’s OK to punch a Nazi or throw water on a conservative personality, I think you need to learn some civility.

I don’t care if the racist is a Republican or a Democrat. I don’t care if the sexual predator is a Republican or a Democrat. I don’t care if the person assaulting someone for their beliefs is a Republican or a Democrat. Actions have consequences so don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.