Friday, November 8, 2013

Day Two: London

Our second day in London was really our first whole day there.  We awoke early and went to the hotel restaurant for breakfast.  This was probably the best breakfast on our whole tour in that it was a buffet with lots of choices...and there was an omelet chef.  A full English breakfast consists of baked beans, baked tomato slices, big sautéed mushrooms, sausage (link type), bacon (not crispy and more like Canadian bacon), and fried or scrambled eggs.  That is why I opted for the cheese I didn't like the rest.  There was also a variety of cold cereals and good pastries, fruit, cold cheeses, cold meats, toast and oatmeal (porridge).  I also liked this buffet because I did not feel rushed or crowded.  There never seemed to  be a line since they had the food stations in a variety of places.
Lobby of Thistle Marble Arch Hotel

Stairs at the hotel.  There was an escalator going up to the right, or you could take the elevator to the street.

After breakfast we boarded a bus (coach) to take a tour of London's West End where we saw, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and Trafalgar Square.  We did not tour these places...but walked around a lot taking pictures.  A realized another positive about taking a tour is that our guide took us to the Methodist Central Hall where they had free bathrooms (WC... water closets).  There was a small café there where we got something to drink.  Other times I have been in London and other European cities I often had to pay to go to the public bathrooms.
Ray and I in front of Big Ben holding the Columbus Dispatch  Travel Section

Stephanie and Bruce in front of Big Ben holding the Columbus Dispatch Travel Section
Changing of the Guard, Buckingham Palace

Changing of  the Guard, Buckingham Palace

After our stop at the Methodist Central Hall we headed to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guards.  It was CROWDED....and being short I can never see over shoulders.  I managed to worm my way to the front where there was a small gap, and I did not budge...even with the child being held by his mother who kept kicking me in the back because he wanted down.  Here is a video of part the changing of the guard.

We headed back to the hotel to regroup and meet our tour director.  Stephanie and Bruce came up to our room and we mapped out our afternoon.  We planned to take the Underground (or Tube) to the London Eye, visit Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, walk across the Millennium Bridge and have an early dinner by the Thames.  But first, let's meet John McAllister, our tour director.  The four of us sat in some comfy chairs in the hotel lobby with John to discuss expectations and to sign up for any of the optional activities.  This is when Stephanie got quiet...something was wrong.

"I must have left my billfold in my room."  She left and we waited, chatting about the tour...waited... and chatted some more.  She returned with no billfold.  "I know I had it in the zipper of this new bag."  I heard the panic in her voice.

"Were you anywhere today where there might have been pickpockets?" was John's reply.

We figured the last place she paid for something as at the café at the Methodist Central Hall.  After that we had gone to see the Changing of the Guards.  Stephanie returned to her room to do another more thorough search.  We all had a sinking feeling that somewhere in that packed crowd a pickpocket had found a way to pilfer her billfold that also contained all of her credit cards.  After listening to John explain how crafty these pickpockets are...I decided to help Stephanie search...maybe a new set of eyes would help.

When I got to her room I felt the despair.  What had once been neatly packed suitcases was now a scene of clothes tossed on chairs and beds.  Sitting in the middle was Stephanie...almost in tears.  Soon Bruce and Ray arrived and we went into problem solving mode.  Bruce was on the phone calling the Methodist Central Hall to see if anyone had found a billfold.  I found the number and address of the police since we knew we had to report this for insurance.  Ray went up to our room to get something...not sure what.

Methodist Central Hall called....but no billfold.  We knew then that it would be best to report this to the credit card companies.  At this time I had a flash...even faster than a flash...I could barely grab the thought...but caught the tail of it and reined it in.  Could she have dropped her billfold while they were in our room?  I sent Ray a text to check as I headed up to our room. (We were on the 7th floor and they were on the 4th).  Ray met me at the door...holding Stephanie's billfold!  I called their room, Stephanie came up to get it...and yes...we, Stephanie and I (not Ray and Bruce), hugged each other and cried.  Ray had found it under the chair where Stephanie had been sitting.  We learned a good lesson though, and were extra vigilant in keeping our bags safe from any pickpockets....just in case.
The London Underground (Tube) Subway

We were soon off to the subway to go to the London Eye.  It was crowded, but we were getting used to that.  The train came and there was a big rush to get on.  I said, "Are we ready?...Let's go"...and then realized that Bruce and Ray had been polite and let some people in front of them.  Stephanie jumped on the train, I looked back to let Bruce and Ray know we needed to get on.  The door closed and the last we saw of Stephanie was her staring out the window, hands pushing on the closed door...mouthing she would see us at St. Paul's Station.  We reunited at St. Paul's laughing at how we must look like quite the tourists.
Jackie, Stephanie and Bruce walking away from St. Paul's Cathedral toward the Millennium Bridge 

Bruce on the Millennium Bridge

Jackie and Stephanie on the Millennium Bridge

  We walked past St. Paul's Cathedral, crossed the Millennium Bridge  checked out The Globe Theatre (it was not open because of  a play taking place).
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
Next we walked along the Thames to The London Eye which  is a huge Ferris wheel that has big glass pods instead of the typical seats.  From the Eye we took lots of pictures of London...even though the lighting was not that was somewhat of a misty day.
London Eye

London Eye

London Eye
Stephanie, Ray and Bruce inside Eye Pod

Bruce taking pictures from the pod.

Stephanie taking pictures.

Ray leaning on door taking pictures. (note sign: Do Not Lean on Doors)

Ray in Eye Pod

Looking at another pod from ours.

Sy enjoying ride on the London Eye.
This is us inside the London Eye Pod

It had been a long full day and we were hungry.  Fortunately there are lots of pubs in London and we found a place, The Founders Arms Pub, right on the Thames.  We sat outside people watching the boats go by.  Ray got fish and chips that also came with mushy peas.  I stuck with chicken and I can't remember what Stephanie and Bruce got.
Fish and Chips with mushy peas.

Dinner at the pub with a nice view.

We took the Underground back to Marble Arch Station which was just a block from our hotel.  It was going to be an early  morning, so we went to our rooms and packed...and watched the news about the poor mummified child.

OOPS...Ray just read this and said it was not in chronological order.  We ate before we went on the London Eye!   He also thanked me for qualifying that he had Bruce did not hug and cry when Stephanie's billfold was found.


  1. Thanks for sharing your trip and photos. Glad you found the billfold. My biggest fear when we went to Sweden was losing my passport. I think I slept with it the first two nights!

  2. What a panic about the billfold! So glad that turned out okay. On to the next day . . .