London was the first stop on the July vacation I took with my brother Mac, sister-in-law Renee, and my friend Linda. Yep, Linda and Linda. We flew out of Los Angeles on Saturday, the Fourth of July. Now that might seem like an odd day to travel, but it was a fantastic choice. Because it was a holiday, there was little to no traffic on the freeways that afternoon, and the airport was practically deserted. It took me about ten minutes to get through security, instead of the usual 45+ minutes. The plane wasn’t entirely full either, despite the summer travel season. Note to self: travel on July 4th whenever possible.
After ten hours of (for the most part) no sleep, we landed at London’s Heathrow Airport. United got us there ahead of schedule, a nice surprise until we got through the airport and found no one waiting to transfer us to our hotel. And that was after what seemed like a two-mile hike from the landing gate to Customs and Immigration, etc. A very nice gentleman let me use his phone to call the tour company, and a few minutes later, someone showed up to drive us to the hotel. (Figuring that we had too much luggage for one taxi, I had arranged for shuttle transfers through Golden Tours. They are very nice to deal with.)
Our hotel, the DoubleTree by Hilton Westminster is situated in a mostly quiet neighborhood between the Tate Britain and Parliament, so it was a great location for sightseeing. Walking distance to Parliament and Westminster Abbey, close to a tube station and even closer to a bus stop.
When we arrived in the room, I realized that I had goofed up royally. I left my camera at home! And after I’d made a point of charging two batteries, so I wouldn’t be without juice. Sigh. It has been a long time since I’ve taken a really long trip, and this was the first one without Bob to remind me about the important things, and I was pretty frazzled in the days leading up to departure. He used to do a good job of keeping me organized and grounded.
Late in the afternoon I went for a walk with Linda and Renee, to scope out the neighborhood and find a place for dinner. (Mac was too tired to care.) I bought apples at a grocer’s and looked for a pharmacy where I might buy a disposable camera of two, but none were in sight. After wandering around a bit longer, we had dinner at a local pub then returned to the hotel thoroughly exhausted. We were all asleep by 9PM GMT after being awake for about 30 hours. I sure wish I could sleep on airplanes.
Next stop: Tower of London