London-Day 2

Thanks to the magic of Benadryl I had a good night’s sleep for our first night in London. The nightmare that is jetlag did not get me. My husband wasn’t so lucky. He didn’t sleep very well and the sleep he did get wasn’t as good as mine was. Thankfully my husband is able to operate on less sleep than I am so his restless first night in London wasn’t a complete disaster.

As I mentioned in the blog entry for Day 1 of our trip we picked our hotel because it had a kitchen. The night before when we went to the grocery store we had purchased six eggs to make for breakfast but we also purchased two different types of quiche. When we had gotten back to our room we had been dismayed to realize that our room had a stove top and a microwave but not an oven. That left us wondering how we were going to heat our quiches. Thankfully they came precooked so we really just needed to warm them up. Since we had no other choice we relied on the microwave. Although I am sure they would have been better out of the over the microwave did a good enough job of cooking them. We added yogurt and cereal to our breakfast before showering for the day. When we headed out for the day we were excited.

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However, we realized our Southern California blood had misjudged the temperature. Although it was mostly sunny we were cold! We were less than two minutes into the walk to our tube station when we both realized that we should go back and put on some warmer clothes. After changing to warmer shirts and jackets we were off once again.

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We have a tradition of going to the most famous landmarks of any city on our first day. We figure that is the best approach just in case something awful were to happen that might send us back home. If something like that happened we would know we at least saw the number one thing we wanted to see. This is how we made La Sagrada Familia our first stop in Barcelona in 2011.

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The Eiffel Tower our first stop in Paris in 2012.

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The Battenberg Gate our first stop in Berlin in 2013.

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And the beach our first stop in Nice in 2016.

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It may sound silly but it all goes back to a trip I took to Vancouver in 2010 when just an hour after checking into my hotel I found out my grandmother had passed away back in Colorado.

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Since we were going to the most famous landmark first that meant we would be going to the Westminster area of London.

Thankfully our tube station allowed us to travel directly to Westminster without switching lines.

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The first thing we saw as we emerged from the tube was Big Ben, perhaps the most famous clock in the world.

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It was a sight to behold. We took lots of pictures around Big Ben.

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One of my favorite pictures was when my husband photobombed me while I took a selfie but he was taking a selfie too!

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Doesn’t that say it all of how obsessed well all are with taking pictures of ourselves.

Big Ben and the Westminster area are important to the history of London but a recent bit of sad history had been made there right before our trip. Just a little over a week before the terrorist attack on Westminster Bridge had occurred. It was sad to see so many flowers left out for the victims of the attack, but it was also nice to know so many people cared.

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As we made our way from Big Ben to Westminster Abbey we found several statues for important historical figures. The one I was the most interesting was of British General Smuts who had been stationed in India while Gandhi was pushing for independence for India.

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I am well aware of some of the mistakes the British in India made under his watch. I also really liked the statue for Winston Churchill.

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Not to mention for Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.

We found there was good news and bad news as we arrived at Westminster Abbey.

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The good news is that our London Passes covered the cost of admission with an audio guide. The bad news is that we weren’t allowed to take pictures. Although I was disappointed that we couldn’t take pictures inside I did find that the fact that I couldn’t take a bunch of pictures did force me to be more present while we were inside of the church. Since I wasn’t experiencing it partially through a camera lens I made the conscious effort to imprint the experience in my memory. I have been lucky enough to be inside of several amazing churches. Notre Dame in Paris in 2012.

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The large cathedral in Cuzco, Peru in 2014 (bu no pictures were allowed in that church either). La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona in 2015.

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As well as the cathedral in Seville in 2015.

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Westminster Abbey was the most similar to Notre Dame because of the gothic architecture. But all of the people who are buried under the church gave it a wonderful English twist. My favorite marker was that of Queen Elizabeth I.

Thankfully once we left the main part of Westminster Abbey we were able to take a few pictures in other areas of the church.

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Since we were getting a bit hungry we stopped in the church’s restaurant and had some tea and scones for an afternoon snack.

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When we exited the church we went into the gift shop.

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It was hard not to go hog wild but I managed to control my impulse to buy everything.

Our next stop was a bit down the road at an amazing, and free, museum called the Tate Britain.

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When we first walked in we were impressed by a very large light display.

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What I loved about the Tate Britain was that it covers 500 years of British Art in a relatively small space. We were able to see most of the museum in a couple of hours. Each room covered a different century of British Art beginning in the 1500s. As we moved from room to room it was really interested to see how the history of the world was reflected in the art of Great Britain. I liked several pieces in the rooms that covered the 1500s, 1600s and 1700s. However, my favorite pieces came in more modern times like this piece from the 1800s.

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I really loved some of the art that was done to reflect the horrors of World War 1.

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A piece that was made in the 1980s to reflect the impact of the A.I.D.S. Crisis on Great Britain was especially powerful for me as a gay man.

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When we left the Tate Britain we began to make our way back towards Westminster Abbey and Big Ben along the River Thames.

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Considering the reputation London has for being dreary and rainy I was utterly in awe of what a beautiful day it was. The views on our walk were really spectacular.

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Once we arrived back in the Westminster area we stopped by the Houses of Parliament.

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We, of course, took lots of pictures.

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I next wanted to see 10 Downing Street where the British Prime Minister lives. I don’t know what I was expecting but clearly I was expecting something easier to spot because we actually missed it and had to backtrack. I was disappointed to find that you can’t really see 10 Downing Street for (understandable) security reasons.

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Oh well. One thing I did like about our detour to try to see 10 Downing Street was that I got to see a cool memorial to the British Women who worked to win World War 2.

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We had originally planned on trying to go by Buckingham Palace but I could tell my husband was getting super tired. His exhaustion wasn’t surprising since he hadn’t gotten a good night’s sleep since we were back in L.A. and we had been on our feet most of the day. Rather than push it to the point where one of us wanted to scream I proposed we save Buckingham Palace for another day and we go back to our room. My husband thought out it for a minute and agreed.

On our way back to the tube I had to get my picture in an English Phone Booth.

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When we got back to the neighborhood our hotel was in my husband headed straight back to the room while I made a brief detour to a bakery to buy some croissants for our breakfast the next day.

When I met back up with my husband in our room we agreed to have dinner at a restaurant that was located right under out hotel. I had a Moroccan Chicken dish.

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I also enjoyed a yummy beer.

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Husband had beef stroganoff with rice instead of noodles.

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We both enjoyed our dinner a great deal. After dinner we went back upstairs to our room. Although it was Saturday night and would be a good night to go clubbing we were both exhausted. So exhausted that it was never up for discussion to go out again, instead we relaxed and had a really nice time just hanging out in our hotel room.

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Here is a description:

Justin Gomez and his sister, Terri, have never been close. Separated by nine years and distant in adulthood, Justin and Terri have little in common, except for the love of her three children. In the days before they embark on a road trip to visit the father that once abandoned them and their now deceased mother, both Terri and Justin are dealing with unexpected changes in their lives. Justin surprisingly realizes he might want more than a series of one night stands after a first date goes unexpectedly well. After a lifetime of being a strong type A personality, Terri is forced to confront the reality of the end of her marriage. As they hit the road, with Terri’s children in tow, they find themselves forced to rely on and confide in each other following a devastating event. Confronted with memories from the past and challenges from the present, Terri and Justin must dig deep and unearth the truth about themselves and their parents in order to build a new family based on their love for each other.

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