We woke up (well, let’s face it, at least one of us never got to sleep) groggy eyed and flat tailed as we made it to Heathrow. Wayne and I performed surgery on our iPhones, replacing our existing SIMs with ones good for the UK (and much of the rest of the EU) that were pay as you go. They worked quite well, and we were off and communicating.
We got out of customs and immigration, and there was our transfer waiting for us, a nice gentleman with the names Spengler, Batzer and Jaffee on a board. As we moved towards the hotel, I was texting back and forth with Don McAllister, and Wayne was checking scores of various games and matches.
We made it to the Millennium Gloucester, and the hotel had received word of ABC Tours, so our rooms were no longer paid for. Small price to pay, but we at least still had our rooms, even though we could not check in until 4 pm (I made big eyes and sad noises and said we had come from Hawaii, the desk clerk softened and allowed for 2 pm).
We bundled up and then went first to Starbucks for a caffeine injection, and then off to Hyde Park Gate and some market shopping in Notting Hill/Portobello Market.
Hyde Park, in combination with Kensington Gardens, is the largest of the three royal parks. We saw many a football match, and a few runners and cyclists as we wended through the park quickly. The park also has the famed Speaker’s Corner for advocates of free speech, the Serpentine Lido for swimming, the Albert Memorial and a statue of Peter Pan, the Isis statue and the Diana Fountain, and a memorial for the July 7, 2005 bombings in London. Worthy of a longer visit than that which we made.
It was extremely crowded! I was afraid I was going to lose Wayne to a milling throng, his least favorite place in the world. Then it was lunch at a pub, and Scott & Will back to the hotel, Pam & Kate continuing shopping, and Mom, Dad, Wayne and I headed out on a Harry Potter walking tour. We walked in and out of train stations, over bridges, by the Houses of Parliament, Number 10 Downing Street (Pakistani ex-pats were protesting asking for support against executing people for “blasphemy”), and through various alleyways at Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square. Midway through the tour, as we were headed to Trafalgar Square, Wayne peeled off and headed to the hotel, where he periodically texted me with updates to our situation there.
Ask me some time about the walk to the tube to get to the start of the walking tour, I’m sure you’ll get a smile out of it...
At the end of the tour, we headed back, checked in, regrouped in Mom & Dad’s room, and then headed out to the Bombay Brasserie for dinner. Nice dinner, good atmosphere, and a good way to end the day.