Saturday, March 12, 2011

London: Day one

I did something yesterday I've never done before: crossed the Atlantic in one calendar day. Every other time I've gone to Europe, I've been stuck on an awful overnight flight that always leaves me wishing for a parachute with an hour or 2 to go before landing. This time though, we flew American Airlines on an early morning flight out of Kansas City, left Chicago at about 9:00 in the morning, and landed at Heathrow at 10:45 that same night. We made it out to our friends' house in the London suburbs by around midnight and got up this morning feeling reasonably refreshed.

We took the local commuter train to Waterloo Station and then switched to the subway. In fact, my very first photo of this trip was of Michelle, Caroline, and Annabelle on the Tube:

We stopped at the TKTS office in Leicester Square and bought tickets for the matinee performance of Phantom of the Opera and then got back on the Tube to start playing tourist in earnest. Our first stop was Westminster, where we did the whole "Look kids, Big Ben! Parliament!" thing.

Big Ben!

London Eye!

Westminster Abbey!

We journeyed by foot in the direction of Buckingham Palace, stopping along the way to pick up lunch at Pret. We had a lovely picnic lunch in St. James park, where we fed the squirrels:

I'm just amazed at how far ahead of us London is when it comes to spring. Everything is so lush and green:

We had to hurry back to the theater district (I guess that would be "theatre district" in this case) for the show. I have seen Phantom at least 3 times before, including once in German, but I think this was my favorite production ever. Because the theaters are generally on the smaller side in London, it's so much easier to see the actors' faces, even from the less than stellar seats. Caroline was just blown away by it, and Annabelle gave it 2 thumbs up:

The challenge was finding someplace to eat afterward! Every place we went up to turned out to either be a chain or a pub, where kids aren't allowed. Michelle and I had split up and were each examining menus on opposite sides of the street when a waitress came out to me and asked if I would like to see the complete menu. That depended, I explained, on whether or not they liked kids. As it turns out, they like kids quite a lot, and we had a very tasty dinner at Il Padrino, where there was something for everyone: a cheeseburger for Caroline, pasta for Annabelle and Michelle, and fish and chips for me. The bill came to 45 pounds ($74) for the 4 of us, which seemed a pretty good deal considering the location.

After supper we made our way over to Tower of London and Tower Bridge so we could see them lit up at night. Here are 2 shots of the tower that I think are passably decent, considering my camera is a little point-and-shoot job:

Here are Caroline and Annabelle, looking out across the river from the Tower Bridge:

I tried to get one of them with the bridge in the background, but it was just too much for my poor little camera. Here is the best of several bad shots:

It's hard to believe that half our time in London is already over!

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