Europe: Day 6

Today I, Tenille, went touring again while Don increased his knowledge of the art of negotiation.   The day-long tour called for visiting Westminster Abby in the morning followed by a visit to Windsor Castle.  Since Don and I already visited Westminster Abbey on Monday, I convinced the tour guide to allow me to visit the London Eye which is nearby the Abbey whilst the others toured Westminster Abbey.  This was agreeable to her, so I set off for the London Eye on foot over the Thames River.  Everything went as planned.  I made it to the London Eye, bought my ticket, and was swiftly boarded on the London Eye.  The London Eye is a huge Ferris wheel-like structure with huge glass capsules in the form of an eye.  Around a dozen people are escorted into each capsule as the wheel continues to rotate at a slow pace.  The entire orbit lasts about 30 minutes allowing for splendid views of London on a clear day, and this day was no exception.  The weather was gorgeously sunny, and the eye could see for miles from every side of the capsule.  Although impressive, I don’t think I will opt in for the ride the next time we visit London. 

My journey finished with 30 minutes to spare, so I foolishly found the nearest underground station and headed for Leicester Square with the intention of purchasing theatre tickets for the upcoming evening.  Upon arriving in Leicester Square, I became very disoriented and wandered around for a bit.  Finally I was able to find the TKTS ticket booth which sells discount theatre tickets for same day shows.  Unfortunately there was a queue (line), and it was time for me to meet the group.  I hurried to find the underground, but I was completely turned around.  I tried asking for directions, but the people I asked were of little help.  Finally in a panic, I hailed a cab.  The meeting time was 11AM, and it was 11:05AM.  Traffic was terrible!  I felt taunted as the cab meter was moving quicker than the actual cab.  In England you are charged per time spent in the cab rather than distance.  The cab driver must have thought I was crazy because I kept asking how far and if it would be faster to walk.  He explained that we just needed to get through three very crowded lights before being able to make our way to the Abbey in a swift fashion.  I waited as patiently as I could until we arrived in front of Westminster Abbey at 11:15.  I paid the driver (6 pounds for less than 2 miles!) and began running.  I didn’t know where the bus was located, so I just headed in what I thought would be the right direction.  Luckily, I found the woman in charge only to find out that they had just decided to leave me.  Had I been a couple of minutes later, I would have been out-of-luck.  I apologized to the rest of the group as I boarded the bus feeling like a complete idiot.

The bus ride was uneventful, and I was able to get some shut-eye.  We arrived at the City of Westminster and had lunch at a very cute corner restaurant.  As with all of the meals thus far we were all served the same dish.  Today’s dish was a very rich spinach and cheese tortellini pasta dish with an alfredo sauce.  Talk about a gut-filler!  It was so dense that I couldn’t finish even half of it.  Although I rarely order pasta, I actually really enjoyed this dish.  For dessert we had a selection, and I chose the coconut and lemon brule.  It was incredibly tasty!

After lunch we headed off to Windsor Castle.  Our tour guide gave us a bit of history regarding the castle on our way.  It is the favorite of Her Majesty the Queen, and she frequents the palace on the weekends.  As this was a weekday, the queen was not in.  As with the Buckingham Palace, this is made evident by the Union Jack flying rather than the royal flag.  Inside the walls of the castle, we walked up to the Stateroom Apartments.  Just as we arrived, there were sirens and police telling everyone there was an emergency as they hurried the people out of the apartments.  In all of the commotion we lost one of the men in our group.  We tried to find him but to no avail.  Our tour guide was stunned at the emergency, and later she told us that in her 20+ years as a tour guide, that had never happened.  We never found out why they were evacuated, but finally after being escorted down the driveway, we were able to enter. 

Teresa and I opted to see the Doll House while the others went straight to the Stateroom Apartments.  The line for the Doll House was considerably longer, but I thought it was worth it.  The doll house was awesome!  One of the queens had it built because she loved miniature things.  The doll house was a small replica of some of the rooms from the Hampton Court Palace.  The details were amazing!  The furniture, the household objects, the paintings, and everything in the doll houses were so small yet so realistic.  They even had books in the library that had been signed by important people.  It was very cool!

The staterooms were a sight to see as well.  I quite enjoyed looking at the art and very old furniture.  We listened to an audio guide informing us of the different aspects of each room.  One of the most memorable rooms for me was the cavalry room, which had swords and guns lining every part of the walls.  There was armor for both men and horses on display.  Very cool!  The other interesting fact was that the queen and king had separate bedrooms, sitting rooms, closets, etc that were decorated in a different fashion.  Teresa and I rushed through the state apartments as we were running out of time and wanted to visit the abbey.  We hurried down and walked through the abbey, which was neat.

We barely made it in time to meet our group to walk down to the bus.  We hit the restrooms, and I bought a miniature double-decker bus/taxi cab combo toy for Caleb.  We waited on the bus as we were missing one woman.  After waiting for some time, she finally came running.  After having to wait for two other people that day, I didn’t feel as stupid about being late in the morning.

I met up with Don at the hotel, and we headed out to Leister Square.  We looked at the TKTS booth, but couldn’t find anything that interested us.  We decided to see The Da Vinci Code in the theatre instead.  It ended up costing us 25 pounds, which is $45.  Yiikes!  You have assigned seats, and you get to choose either the 1st floor or the balcony.  Regardless, that’s a pricey movie.   London is so expensive!  Anyway, we ate at a French restaurant before watching the movie.  The service was not so good, but the food made up for it.  I found out that I like green olives after all.  I always thought they tasted gross, but the ones I had at the restaurant were yummy, so maybe I’ll give them another chance.

The movie was really good.  It made for good conversation afterwards.  Like I mentioned before, Don just finished reading the book, so he was able to fill me in on the parts that I didn’t quite understand.  There was one part in the movie that was particularly suspenseful, and the scary, bad guy jumps out.  I don’t know if I was breathing out at the precise moment or what, but I let out a scream.  Don looked over at me laughing.  The people we were sitting next to were laughing as well.  It was pretty embarrassing, and I couldn’t stop laughing.  It was neat to see some of the places that we’ve visited on our trip or will visit.  For instance, Westminster Abbey’s tribute to Newton and the Chapter House were in the movie.  And, the Louvre in Paris is a big part of the movie, so it will be fun to see it.

After the movie, we roamed around the Piccadilly Circus and Leister Square area which is quite a happening place at night.  We saw a huge arcade with every arcade game imaginable.  There was a particular horse racing game that was popular.  Don and I watched as a few men competed against each other.  Basically they made up a  horse and competed against each other.  The only part of playing the game was hitting a “whip” button as the horses raced around the track.  They would do a sort of “quick, quick, slow” motion as they hit the button.  That was it!  There didn’t seem to be any skill or excitement to the game, yet there were quite a few men playing and multiple observers.  Don and I were puzzled by the whole thing, but maybe we were missing something.  Anyway, after taking in the nightlife of London, we retired to our hotel.  We called Don’s parents to talk to them and Caleb.  Caleb basically says “Hello”, “Goodbye”, “Hi Dada/Mama”, and “I Love You.”  It’s so nice to hear his voice even though our conversation is obviously very limited.  He seems to be doing great with Don’s parents although he’s having a harder time with Don’s grandma.  Hopefully it will get better as he gets used to her more.

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