Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Adventure Has a Great Start!






Cheerio from London!

I left Los Angeles on Wednesday afternoon after a farewell breakfast at Cronies Sports Grill, of course, in Camarillo with Laurie, Mike and Koreen and Brian FitzGerald.

Incredibly LAX was a breeze! Total check in time was about 10 minutes, I was even the only person in the baggage X-ray line. The ten hour flight to London was also good, aisle seat (usual beatings by the food and beverage carts) with no one in the seat next to me.

London's Heathrow Airport was also smooth, three people in front of me at immigration, my luggage arrived with me, lost luggage has been a BIG issue for British Air the last two years. The Heathrow Express train got me into Paddington Station in 15 minutes and my hotel, the London Elizabeth, was nearby.

As I usually do in a new town I walked much of London, I wish I hadn't stopped walking after the Dos Pueblos game last October. I may have made up all the lost mileage on Thursday! After exploring Hyde Park it was, after many stops, on to Piccadilly Circus to have my first English meal. I stopped at "The Crooked Surgeon" pub for fish and chips and a Stella Artois beer. While I ate I watched a live cricket match on TV (one team was behind by 76 runs in the first innings, yes, innings not inning, I just report what I see. Can life possibly get any better than this after a long red-eye flight?

A new movie called "The Bucket List" is about two terminally ill codgers who make up a list of things to do before they kick the bucket. I don't have such a list but if I did I just scratched a lot of them off my would-be list the last two days. Start with attending a West End play last night "The 39 Steps". It was a hilarious comedic adaptation of Alfred Hitchcock's 1930's suspense movie.

Today, many more items were eliminated from this imaginary list thanks to London's efficient Undergound, "Mind the Gap". I went to the British Museum where I saw the Rosetta Stone, the Elgin Marbles and Egyptian mummies. Then it was off to St. Paul' Cathedral, magnificent! From there I visited the Tower of London and saw the British Crown Jewels amongst other things. Grabbed the Tube as Westminster Abbey, double magnificent, was next up with it's famous Poet's Corner. I was there long enough to hear their magnificent choir and organ practice hymns. I also got to hear Big Ben ring it's famous bells.

I got a bag of chestnuts roasting on an open fire from a street vendor while I was waiting for my last adventure of the day. By the way, Jack Frost has bitten my nose completely off, it is cold and windy here. I finished the day with the 90 minute, night time, in the rain "Jack The Ripper" walking tour. It was very interesting to see where these murders occurred and hear all the gory details but unfortunately all of the original buildings have been destroyed by either time or the Nazis.

I have found London to be a very cosmopolitan city indeed. Walking down the street you hear every language under the sun being spoken, kind of reminds me of the Camarillo Outlet Mall on a Sunday.

The pictures above show that I'm being good, note the huge blue halo, while visiting the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey and Big Ben.

Tomorrow morning I fly to Catania on Air Malta. The long Italian leg of the adventure begins!

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