I landed in London Heathrow in the morning. While I was in line to go through Immigration, I watched some woman give the officials there a hassle. She started shouting. She was being resistive and putting up a fight, so two Immigration officials wrestled her to the ground and handcuffed her. Then she yelled in a Cockney accent, "Stop that! You're 'urting me arm!" I have no idea what was going on.
After making my way through Immigration and Customs, I took the Heathrow Express line from the airport to Paddington station, right in the heart of downtown London.
I was supposed to meet up with the Faivres at about 3 in the afternoon at the Jesmond Hotel. It was only 10 or 11, so I decided to take the three or four kilometer walk to the hotel. I had a map that I had brought with me, so I was comfortable navigating my own way there. I walked past the beautiful Hyde Park Mansions on the way that made me think, "Ah, now that's what London looks like!" I sat in the basement of the hotel and waited for them. I had some Earl Grey tea, read and journaled a bit.
When they finally pulled up in their taxi, I was excited. I hadn't seen David in nearly a year. It saw a taxi pull up through the window, so I hopped up the stairs to greet them. Everyone was full of smiles.
The Sperlings, David and I decided to go to the Tower of London. We got in on a guided tour. The guide was very animated. He told stories and made an effort to scare little kids by saying things like the raven would bite their fingers off. (There's a legend that there has to be a certain number of ravens on the grounds at all times or something bad will happen.) The tour concluded at the Waterloo Block, which is where the Crown Jewels are kept. The inner rooms where they're actually on display have been converted into vaults. We walked through giant, thick metal doors.
We then took a walk on our own through a few other buildings. Look at the crotch on Henry VIII's suit of armor! I think he had some confidence problems! We also took a look at a bunch of arsenals (they got repetitive after a while) and even a torture chamber.
The Tower of London is (amazingly enough) situated right next to the Tower Bridge (pictured: Megan, Haniya, Adam and David) and just across the River Thames from City Hall.
We had dinner at Chez Gerard with some friends of Uncle Steve's. Most of us had filet mignons. The beef was raised on some Scottish estate. It was most definitely a melt-in-your-mouth steak! I felt a little underdressed...but then again, my options were limited by my light packing.
At 10:30pm, the sky was still in twilight. At 4:00am, the sun was already beginning to rise. I didn't realize that London was at such a high latitude.
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All content and photos Copyright © 2004 Travis Pettijohn.