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"It Will Rain Tomorrow." England Weathers The MaiTai Four.

"It Will Rain Tomorrow." England Weathers The MaiTai Four.

Old Nov 11th, 2013, 05:10 PM
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Maitaitom, really enjoying this report. Wow, that was quite a day, arriving in London from LA, lunch, then dinner with a ride on the Tube. Glad that your hotel situation was resolved to your satifaction.


I loved your description of Trafalgar Square and the Crypt at St. Martins. Like others, looking forward to more…
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Old Nov 11th, 2013, 06:14 PM
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Maitaitom, we're really enjoying your fascinating TR, and look forward to reading more of your London experiences. So glad your initial lodging nightmare worked out so well.
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Old Nov 11th, 2013, 08:18 PM
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Always a pleasure to read your TR.
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Old Nov 11th, 2013, 10:18 PM
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Enjoying the read & great to see you on the move again Tom.

I'm sure you know - but it's milk based lassis, yoghurt or even a glass of milk that is the antidote to the 100 chilli curry. Failing that, banana, fresh coconut. Those little dishes of cucumber, mint & yoghurt are life savers.
Beer & water only emphasize the burn.
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Old Nov 11th, 2013, 10:51 PM
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Enjoying the ride so far!
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Old Nov 12th, 2013, 08:14 AM
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Lovely - can't wait for the rest!
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Old Nov 12th, 2013, 09:17 AM
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"or even a glass of milk that is the antidote to the 100 chilli curry."

Yes, but a Cobra has special powers. Either that, or I was really tired.

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Old Nov 12th, 2013, 10:34 AM
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Great report and so glad you didn't make any wrong turns when walking back and forth from the Vauxhall Tube...there's this great little notorious venue nearby but that's another story.

Thanks for posting this very enjoyable report.
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Old Nov 12th, 2013, 10:39 AM
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"Great report and so glad you didn't make any wrong turns when walking back and forth from the Vauxhall Tube...there's this great little notorious venue nearby but that's another story."

Dukey, I know what you're talking about. We saw some "action" taking place there on a couple of the nights we walked by.

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Old Nov 12th, 2013, 10:48 AM
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Loving every moment of it, keep it coming maitaitom...
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Old Nov 12th, 2013, 11:06 AM
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More please…. it's even grimmer today in NYC…..
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Old Nov 12th, 2013, 11:13 AM
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In, in, in!
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Old Nov 12th, 2013, 11:43 AM
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You're a hoot! I'm stealing that "second to naan" line.
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Old Nov 12th, 2013, 12:17 PM
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It's going to be fun ride. Thanks, Tom.
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Old Nov 12th, 2013, 12:46 PM
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<B>CHAPTER TWO: Going Crazy At Starbucks, It’s Good To Be Old, Tower Of Power, Where’s The Gin, Cross That Bridge When We Come To It, The Big Cheese, My Cup Runneth Over, Going Gothic, Fly (Almost) Like An Eagle, A Monumental Climb, Church Of The Royal Air Force, A Walk In The Garden, Bellying Up To Manet’s Bar, Two Ships We Won’t Pass In The Day And Snails In England</B>

We were up and out of the hotel by 8:30 a.m. We stopped by the concierge to tell him the details of 2FOR1, but I don’t think he really believed our facts about this deal, so we just gave up on our attempt to inform him. Before heading off, we asked him about the weather forecast. His answer became a running joke for the next two weeks. “It should be nice today, but it will rain tomorrow,” he answered.

On our walk to the tube, we noticed an inordinate number of brownish spots on the sidewalk that we decided could be only one thing…vomit. Obviously, we now chose our steps very carefully to Vauxhall.

Located next door to Vauxhall Station was a conveniently located Starbucks, although in London it is pretty hard to go far without seeing one. Our Starbucks was unique, however, in the fact that as we stood to buy our overpriced (but much needed) caffé lattes, there was a crazy man (amazingly not me for a change) who had all the patrons on edge with his bizarre and very loud behavior.

Although danger lurked near the croissants, our love of caffeine trumped our fear of death, so Mary and I stayed in line, while Kim and Tracy checked out future spouses from a safe distance. When I reached the cashier, the only thing the poor guy could say (while watching the crazy man out of the corner of his eye) was, “I hate working Saturday mornings.”

Our first stop on this rather overcast day was the Tower Of London, where we would see if this 2FOR1 thing really worked. It sure did, and we even received a senior discount (60 and over), the happiest I have ever been for being an old man (well, except for escaping that near death thing a few years back). Total cost for tickets…£19.50 per couple.

Home of the Crown Jewels and a place where more than few lost their heads (but not as many as I thought), the Tower Of London took about two hours to tour. We walked the walls and visited the White Tower, the Bloody Tower and Tower Green (where seven people, including two of Henry VIII’s wives and Lady Jane Grey…a 16-year-old who had only been Queen for nine days…had their heads cut off). The only thing missing was someone singing “I Ain’t Got No Body.”

Next we were at the Jewel House where the Crown Jewels are displayed. “Look,” Tracy said, “there’s a Beefeater.”

I replied, “Great…it’s almost 11, I could use a gin and tonic about now.” Of course, it wasn’t really a bottle of gin, but instead a Yeoman Warder (Beefeater). The Beefeaters have guarded the Tower Of London since the late 1400s.

Although many of the jewels presented here are fantastic, there is one that everyone comes to see…the Koh-i-nor (“Mountain Of Light” in Persian). The 106-carat diamond now resides in the Queen’s Mother’s crown (the original Carat Top) that is on display, proving that diamonds really are a Queen’s best friend.

The Tower Of London (as did many of the other attractions we visited) had a special exhibition of the Queen’s Coronation (2013 is the 50th anniversary).

We enjoyed our visit to the Tower of London, but honestly, if I never see another suit of armor or medieval weapon of death on my future travels, I will be fine with that (unless I could use that mace on the apartment people).

After having my obligatory Tower photo taken with another Beefeater outside, we all decided lunch was in order, and today’s meal was one I was really looking forward to, because I was going to try one of life’s incredible delicacies. Yes, I had traveled nearly halfway across the world to eat…a toasted cheese sandwich.

We crossed the historic Tower Bridge and headed to the Borough Market, a spot where various markets have stood for something like 1,000 years (it seemed that long since I had eaten my last meal). Arriving at the market, we were met by hundreds of our closest friends who were also here to enjoy the numerous stalls selling food, drink and everything else under the sun. I had only one booth in mind, however.

Not entirely believing in the incredible power of fromage, Kim asked me, “So where is your famous toasted cheese sandwich?”

Before I could answer, someone in the crowd pointed and said, “They’re right over there.”

“See, they really are famous,” I told Kim.

We hurried over to the Kappacesein’s stall where, for just £5, you can harden all your arteries and shorten your life span by devouring a delicious Three-Cheese Toastie. Besides the three cheeses, this sandwich (on sourdough) also has (I think) onions and leeks. Mary decided to eschew the toastie, and instead tried their raclette over roasted potatoes, while Kim, Tracy and I ordered the toastie. It was rich, but delicious.

There was only one choice of beverage to wash that sandwich down, and this concoction was also something I had wanted to try, even though one of the ingredients in the drink sounded somewhat nauseating to me. That’s because a Pimm’s Cup contains cucumber (a food item that ranks pretty low on my list), but when in London do as the Londoners do. The Pimm’s Cup was surprisingly good and cost £3.50.

We hung around the Borough Market for about another half hour, bought a couple of brownies (hell, my arteries were gone anyway) and a bottle of Nutmeg Syrup (that we lugged around for the remainder of the trip) and headed next door to our conveniently located destination adjacent to the market.

Although not mentioned by many in their trip reports, we found Southwark Cathedral to be a truly beautiful church and quite photogenic.

Southwark Cathedral is the oldest Gothic church in London. Parts of it date back to the 12th century. There is a £2 charge to take photos (well worth it…the inside is gorgeous). Shakespeare supposedly worshipped here, which could be considered very interesting or much ado about nothing.

Just a few minutes walk from Southwark Cathedral is the Golden Hinde II, a recreation of the ship that Sir Francis Drake circumnavigated the globe on between 1577 and 1580. I ran (well, I don’t really run any more, so I walked at a brisk, old geezer pace) over to take a couple of photos. If you decide to go on the ship, it is also a 2FOR1 attraction.

We then walked across the modern (and rather ugly) London Bridge heading for our first big climb of the trip. I think Lake Havasu City got the best of that deal.

Our group started walking toward The Monument, which towers over the junction of Fish Street Hill and Fleet Street. It commemorates the rebuilding of London after the city’s 1666 Great Fire and was completed in 1677.

Sir Christopher Wren, who seemingly designed the entire city of London, was one of the people who worked on this project. I hoped not to end up like William Green. In 1750, Green reached over the railing of the balcony to look at a live eagle that was kept in a cage. Unfortunately, Green accidentally lost his balance and fell to his death.

Once again, we received the senior discount, and The Monument is another 2FOR1 site (£3 for two people). Whether or not it is worthwhile to climb the 311 circular stairs is certainly open for discussion, but we did receive a certificate stating that we made it to the top and, even better, did not end up flying like an eagle.

This might seem a lot for one day, but our crew of intrepid travelers was not done yet. Next stop: The Courtauld Institute Gallery.

Departing the nearest tube station to the gallery, we walked through the lovely Victoria Embankment Gardens to the Somerset House, a major arts and cultural center, which contains Samuel Courtauld’s private collection of art (also a 2FOR1). It supposedly houses some of the world’s finest Impressionist and Post Impressionist art. Sadly, we didn’t get to see much of it, as the gallery had numerous rooms closed for renovation.

We paid a discounted (£5 for two) to view what was on display. We did see some nice Renaissance art on the ground floor and Impressionist paintings on the 1st floor, including Manet’s Bar at the Folies-Berg̀ere and Van Gogh Sans Ear (not the painting’s real name).

Walking back toward the tube we ducked into St. Clement Danes, an Anglican church destroyed by the Germans in World War II. The church was completely restored, re-consecrated and became the Central Church of the Royal Air Force in 1958. We also happened upon a wedding, which would not be the last time we infringed upon a nuptial on this trip.

Some of the London public buildings were open on this weekend (Monument Weekend), so we quickly stopped by the Royal Courts Of Justice, and then took the tube…ostensibly to go see Benjamin Franklin’s House. When we arrived at his former London home, we were told to “go fly a kite”… actually the lines were so long that no one else could be admitted before it closed.

That was fine with us, because nearby we saw The Ship & Shovell. This pub claims to be "the only London pub in two halves (located on each side of an alley).” We enjoyed some Badger Best Ale draught and French fries, made some dinner reservations online and then headed to the hotel.

Later that evening we got on the tube en route to South Kensington for dinner at La Bouchee on Old Brompton Road, the little French restaurant we had walked by the previous night. The upper part of the restaurant was full, so we were relegated to the bottom floor (not as quaint, but still nice enough).

The food was decent (a couple of dishes were very good), but somewhat expensive for the quality of meal. My six escargots were very good and Roasted Leg of Lamb special was fine, but nothing special. Mary had the same special, and she started with a Cream of Tomato Soup with Basil Oil.

Kim decided to go the fish direction with a Lemon Sole (deboned) and a side of delicious Gratin Dauphine, which was a combination of thinly sliced potatoes in butter, cream and cheese. He thankfully shared that dish with us, because my arteries were beginning to unharden from that afternoon’s Three-Cheese Toastie.

Tracy went for the Haricot Vert Salad with Egg Mimosa (aka Deviled Eggs) and Roast Pork with Pappardelle in a Mediterranean sauce.

On the way back to the hotel we checked out the Party Boat located nearly across the street from the Plaza Riverfront on the River Thames. It was packed with a lot of very drunk young people, which pretty much explained the vomit spots we saw that morning on the sidewalk as we walked toward Vauxhall Station.

It had been a rather arduous first full day in London (more than 11 miles of walking), but tomorrow would be even longer, because we had an evening date with the Queen…well sort of. The four of us would also bear witness to an event (“event” might be too kind a word) that, well, you just have to wait for the next installment to read about it.

<B>NEXT: CHAPTER THREE – Swans & Squirrels, Horsing Around, A Huge Cock, Glorious Gallery, Hyde But No Jekyll, The $16,000 Purse, Go Soak Your Feet, Going Green, Our Corgi Will Be So Happy, An Evening Appearance At The Queen’s Residence and It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas</B>
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Old Nov 12th, 2013, 01:36 PM
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Love your travel reports. Your take on pedestrian street crossings is spot-on--"Look both ways or die!" Is great.
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Old Nov 12th, 2013, 02:22 PM
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wonderful read, I'm seeing places in London that we missed on previous trips, however, I'm very thankful one of them was vomit on the sidewalk Deborah
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Old Nov 12th, 2013, 02:41 PM
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>>Contrary to my mantra at the end of all my trip reports, my attitude sucked, and the journey hadn’t even started yet.<<

Bless your heart, you're human after all. I'm so glad it all worked out!

Loving your report!
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Old Nov 12th, 2013, 03:59 PM
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your take on pedestrian street crossings is spot-on--"Look both ways or die!" Is great.

I'm still amazed one of us didn't get crushed by a bus.

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Old Nov 12th, 2013, 05:09 PM
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maitaitom: What an entertaining report! Sorry about the apartment cancelation. That's why I fear them. It happened to my brother, as well, but not 48 hours before. Can't wait to read more.

Side note: St. Martin-in-the-fields also has its own chamber orchestra, with Sir Neville Mariner, the (now retired) conductor. My piano teacher performed and recorded with them.
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