Onward bound

We slept fairly late for us - a little after 7 am - and headed downstairs to see my parents up and about.  After a waffle breakfast, Wayne and I walked the loop and hit Starbucks, after which I headed out with Mom to mail back my soft sided suitcase, and then to hit Marshall’s for a pair of traveling pants, sorely needed for the travel.  Lunch was at a local pizza establishment, and we enjoyed our last meal in the Oakdale/Bohemia.

We made it to JFK rather quickly, and then waited in the long security line to gain entry to the Virgin Atlantic waiting area.  No Jaffees to be found anywhere.  It turned out that there was a frantic text from Pam as we were going through the line, their car service had not arrived, and they were driving down.  We anxiously counted the minutes as boarding time drew near.  Literally minutes before boarding was to begin, there was an announcement that boarding was delayed due to a medical emergency from the prior flight.  We cheered, apologizing to our neighbors, and then saw a familiar little head pop by - Will was there, as was Scott, Pam and Kate soon to follow.

We snacked, boarded the plane, and started our way across the Atlantic.  I have to say, one of the most uncomfortable flights I have ever taken.  Teeny, tiny, cramped seats, and terrible food.  I was happy to have had snacks prior to boarding.

Now, a little about London.

London is the capital city of England and the United Kingdom, and the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom. London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its founding by the Romans, who named it Londinium. London is a leading global city, with strengths in the arts, commerce, education, entertainment, fashion, finance, healthcare, media, professional services, research and development, tourism and transport all contributing to its prominence.

London has a diverse range of peoples and cultures, and more than 300 languages are spoken here.  It contains four World Heritage Sites: the Tower of London; Kew Gardens; the site comprising the Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey, and St Margaret's Church; and the historic settlement of Greenwich. Other famous landmarks include Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Piccadilly Circus (remember Big Boy in Austin Powers?), St Paul's Cathedral, Tower Bridge and Trafalgar Square. Its Underground is the oldest underground railway network in the world.

Within London, both the City of London and the City of Westminster have city status and both the City of London and the remainder of Greater London are the ceremonial counties. The current area of Greater London has incorporated areas that were once part of the historic counties of Middlesex, Kent, Surrey, Essex and Hertfordshire. London's status as the capital of England, and later the United Kingdom, has never been granted or confirmed officially—by statute or in written form. Its position was formed through constitutional convention, making its status as de facto capital a part of the UK's unwritten constitution. The capital of England was moved to London from Winchester as the Palace of Westminster developed in the 12th and 13th centuries to become the permanent location of the royal court, and thus the political capital of the nation.

London is often described using a set of district names, such as Bloomsbury, Mayfair, Wembley and Whitechapel.  Each district refers to a local area with its own distinctive character, but without current official boundaries. Since 1965,  London has been divided into 32 boroughs, as well as the ancient City of London. The West End is London's main entertainment and shopping district, and it includes very expensive residential areas.  The East End is the area closest to the original Port of London, known for its high immigrant population, as well as for being one of the poorest areas in London. The surrounding East London area saw much of London's early industrial development; now, brownfield sites throughout the area have been redeveloped as part of the Thames Gateway, including the London Riverside and Lower Lea Valley, which was developed into the Olympic Park for the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.

No knowing how much we will get done in 3 short days, but let’s hope it’s a good 3 short days!