Travelogue -- Ken and Carolyn Go To London -- 2008
April 6 -- The National Gallery, The Tower Bridge, Harrods


It snowed on April 6. And not just a little. It was wet, but it was snow ... it melted on the pavement, but stacked up on cars ... I guess the BBC's weather folk aren't always wrong. (We've had days they said would be sunny, and it rained ...) Carolyn headed outside to revel in the snow. She doesn't get much of it in the Bay Area ...

So, it was still snowing when we left later that morning. We went to The National Gallery, because, well, we hadn't see enough paintings (oh, was that my outside voice?). But seriously, Carolyn wanted to see some things there, and we went. We spent a couple hours ... after deciding to meet around noon (I think, I lost track of time), I wandered off and did a quick ten minute tour, and realized in that short of an amount of time I had seen at least five portraits of the Madonna and child, and decided I'd overloaded on paintings. I know it may seem sacriligious to some, but I'm not the art geek my wife is. She can, if she has time, zen into staring at a painting, trying to get into the mind of the painter, and so on. I ... can't. I can appreciate the art, but after awhile it all starts to blur. We saw paintings three days in a row, and honestly, I had maxed out big time.

Carolyn spent just about exactly the amount of time alloted, enjoying, getting some sketches, etc. During that time, I ... sat. But oh well. I don't begrudge her the time, as this is something she really wanted to do, and that's really cool. (Honestly -- despite any grousing, I really did want her to enjoy this trip her way.)

We then had lunch at the National Restaurant, or whatever they called it. During this time the Olympic Torch came through, which was amusing. The crowds of supporters for the Olympics in China, as well as the protesters (Tibet, etc.) were out, but it seemed pretty tame. We didn't see the person who attacked the torch carrier until we got home and watched it on the news. Glad we missed that part. From our vantage point in the restaurant, we could see the torch burning. A lot of folk in the crowds complained (again, we heard about this on TV) that all they saw were guys in track suits (the guards and police). Dopey me, I left my camera in my coat back at the table, so didn't get a photo of the runner coming through. Oh well.

We decided that the spouse needed to spend more time at the National Gallery, and the rest of us (Don, BJ and I) didn't. So, we split up. It had stopped snowing by then, although it kind of came and went a little, it looked like it was mostly done.

We went to a nearby tube station, and went to Tower Hill. From there we went to The Tower Bridge, which is one of the big landmarks. On the way, we got different angles on the London Tower, and some photos with a touch of snow on various towers. Then we got to the bridge.

It was f'ing cold. (Well, in order for it to be snowing, it has to be 32 degrees or there-abouts, and there's typically a breeze off the Thames ...) Good thing I had that black overcoat I bought a couple months ago! OOF. But, we did the Tower Bridge exhibit, taking the lift up the tower, and looking, taking photos, and ...

Spiff. That's pretty cool. The upper bridge level for pedestrians is really great, it's glassed off, so you don't get the wind, but they keep the windows pretty clean, so you can get photos up and down the Thames. There are some videos that show the basics of how and why the bridge was built. Ultimately you can go down to the old engine rooms (no longer in use, a different system is used to lift the bridge now) and see the old steam engines used to power the bridge. Fun. Don, who is a bridge painter, had some professional things to look at as well (noting the layers of paint, and where there was rust, that kind of thing ... kind of amusing in its own way).

We found out later in the week that the Bridge, as of June of this year, is going to be covered in tarps and scaffolding for four years while they sandblast it down to the metal and repaint it with new paint. Glad we saw it when we did!

While there we went to the Tower Bridge Piazza, a small alleyway of shops down near the water level of the Thames. Kind of fun, and we probably could have had some tea or something down that alley, to warm up ... but we didn't.

We wended our way back to the tube, transferred to the Picadilly line and went to Harrod's. That was ... interesting. Harrod's is huge, and it's a zoo. You could get lost there. We wandered around a bit, and found the Harrod's Cafe, and had tea. Well, Don and BJ had tea, and I had an orange/passion fruit drink, and dessert. That was just nice.

We also used the "Luxury Washrooms". As one guy was leaving, he told the attendant "Now I feel like a Gentleman!" Well, I thought it was funny.

We went and got some candy for Don and BJ's relatives, and I had picked up some more Turkish Delight. I didn't realize that the box I got the other day was flavored a specific flavor (Mint), and so I got a box of Orange ... sounds good. I'll probably bring them home, and horde them for awhile or something.

Carolyn beat us back to the flat by about 10-20 minutes. She had a good time at the National Gallery, and seemed to be pretty happy about that excursion.


Photos


SNOW

SNOW

SNOW

SNOW

SNOW

The Tower of London

The Tower of London

The Tower of London

SNOW

The Tower of London

The Tower Bridge

The Tower of London

Playground in
the Moat??

The Tower Bridge

The Tower Bridge

The Tower Bridge

The Tower Bridge

The Tower Bridge

The Tower Bridge

The Tower of London
FROM the Bridge

From The Tower Bridge

From The Tower Bridge

From The Tower Bridge

The Tower Bridge,
inside.

From The Tower Bridge

From The Tower Bridge

Old Engines

Old Engines

Old Engines

The Tower Bridge Piazza

The Tower Bridge Piazza


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