Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Home in AZ, London was a "Riot"

I can't begin to tell you how happy I am to be home. The last week in London was a nightmare. The riots were all around me and I felt captive in my room. So much fear in the air and the sound of sirens all through most nights. I tried to get a flight out sooner but couldn't work it out. When I finally got home I had a basic meltdown from all the stress and ended up in the hospital for 3 days. I'm doing better now and getting my self together. I spent yesterday at Mayo Clinic with my cardiologist and have a good positive plan now.
Clearly I had no way to know that my final week in London would errupt into a nightmare but I did learn some valuable lessons from this summer trip. I took on too much for too long. 7 weeks away from home, alone with lots of physical demands is too much for me these days. I've now done all the foreign travel I want to do for now. Going it alone has some advantages but it is not a good thing when trouble comes. Summer visits to Seattle and San Diego are looking better and better.
I do want to show the pictures from the last good days in London. A visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum was the highlight.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

777777Victoria & Albert Museum plus other stuff

Hi Y'all,
Tomorrow is packing day and trying to find a place to print out my boarding pass. My taxi is ordered to arrive at 4;45 AM Monday morning. That's right, very, very, early. My flight leaves at 7:45 AM and they advise 3 hours prior to flight but I'm only giving them 2 hours. Heathrow has body scanners so that should be interesting. Wonder if I get a print of my innards??? Things have quieted down here in London, although there are still some looting happening. A grocery story within walking distance of me, got raided, during the early evening by a group of young thugs. It is boarded up and there was an article in the local paper. So it is not over yet.
Now on the cheerier reports. The Victoria and Albert Museum was totally impressive and huge. I have never seen so many marble and ivory nudes....I spent quite a while in gazing mode. What a collection of design art they have, plus a lovely garden area to have tea. Such interesting architecture, I took a bunch of pics that I hope give you some idea of what V&A is like...Today I went to the Camden Street Market. Pictures will follow soon. Great antique stuff, lots of vintage clothes, etc. but prices were very high ... and even higher with the exchange rate. So no shopping just looking today. It is off to bed for me and a "work" day tomorrow. I hope I can pack in a way that makes my luggage more manageable.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Last day out before I knew about the London Riots

Monday I took the bus into central London and did some shopping and ate dinner out with the idea of attending the evening service at St. Paul's Cathedral. I was in the adjoining plaza square taking pictures of some incredible statuary and metal art and wondering why there were so many police wagons buzzing by in full sirens. I thought there must have been a terrible accident or something. When It came time for the St. Paul Service, it was reason just a notice. So I hopped a bus home and started hearing people talking about riots in Totenham...and so it began. I don't have a TV in my room so my news comes from the internet...things are settling down now but last night there were 16,000 London police on the streets....days of the sound of sirens and terrible scenes of looting and burning. Not a great way to end my trip to London but I'm sharing these great pictures I took and hope to have more to share before I head for home. This to shall pass.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Some Thoughts and Confessions

I've been on the road now for 42 days and frankly, it is wearing me down. My enthusiasm for sight seeing is waning and what a shame that is, since I am in London. Now that I have gained more experience as a trip planner, I would have done this trip differently. I loved Ireland and I truly miss being there. The people were such a joy and my Dublin base allowed me to meet people and stave off being lonely as a solo traveler. I think it would have been wiser to go home instead of coming to London. I really misjudged my level of energy and have a case of travel fatigue.
The student housing where I am staying provides a reasonably priced more than adequate room.
And though it does have a common room, it is pretty much empty of travelers. I think I am the oldest person in the building....and the "kids" are either working or studying for the summer. So far the only person I have talked with is the security guy who is really a sweetheart. The area is nice and non-touristy. The tube is about a 15 minute walk and there are buses running regularly. All that looked good "on paper" but is turning out to be lonely and I'm too tired to do much about it.
I have another week in London and plan to see some more of the sights. I know when I get home, I will regret not having seen more of London but I can live with that. Who knows, I may just be having a bad day and will wake up in the morning raring to go! For tonight, it feels like "I stayed too long at the Fair" old song I remember.
P.S. The picture is a painting I bought from a street artist.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

My London Neighborhood

I took a walk around the neighborhood today. Didn't find the street market I wanted to due to a downpour that kept me indoors until late afternoon. The sun came out about 5 PM and so I grabbed my camera and took some pics.

Day on the Thames

Wow, the sun came out, I got to take a Thames River Cruise, I bought a "walking stick", took a bus tour around town and the pictures tell the story.

Some things I've been learning about London. Very difficult town if you don't do stairs. The Tube
(their subway) is the worst for stairs and no lifts. (that is UK speak for elevator). I also found out after walking around with an empty plastic bottle in my hand, that they do not put refuse bins in place because they can hold bombs, Yikes!
I finally broke down and bought a walking stick. I purchased it at the same shop, endorsed with the Royal Seal, that the royals buy their fly fishing and other outdoor equipment. My "stick" adapts to many sizes so if I want to appear athletic I can make it long and ramble along like a mountaineer. If my knee keeps buckling and collapsing (as it is doing with increasing regularity), I can bring it down to, dare I even say it, cane size. I managed all the stairs yesterday with my new companion and today I am not destroyed! My new companion is also great for keeping me steady on the cobblestone streets...which BTY I see being navigated quite skillfully by young women in very high is the best street performance in town!

I also spent some time on Oxford row. I even found a shop catering to we larger gals. I couldn't resist, I bought a top and just pretended the 32 I paid for it was Dollars not Pounds. I will see the folly of my ways when I get my credit card statement. London is uber expensive....but I only have about 9 more days here and a "lifetime" to payoff the credit card. Right Dan??

Today, my new companion and I are going to walk down the street to find the Camden Passage market, right here in my neighborhood. I've never been very good at rooting through stuff, I like it sized and hung on hangers, but when in London.....street markets are the cool thing....perhaps a treasure awaits.

Tomorrow I am going to attempt to go to Church at St. Paul's Cathedral. 11:30 Eucharist. Nice to be able to worship in the Mother Church for Episcopalians.....even a few of us fallen ones. BTW...I have to stop eating soon.....I'm so impessed by the fruit, veggies, bread, cheese and puddings (UK speak for dessert) that I have been bringing a new bag of goodies home every day. I mean, how bad can it be with no meat??? That damn scale at home is just waiting to laugh hysterically when I take my first step on it. A day of reckoning for sure....but I am the "master of denial" my shopping bag and I are not through yet! "...miles to walk before I eat..."