First Day in London

Trip Start Jul 20, 2014
Trip End Aug 05, 2014

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Monday, July 21, 2014

We had a long walk in Terminal 4 to get to customs but a short wait to go through.  Larry and I got off the plane before everyone else as we were in Row 19.  So we got to baggage claim and collected our bags and used the ATM to get some cash.  We waited for the others and then we left to wait for our bus into the City Centre.  It took about 15 minutes for the bus to come to us.  It took another hour to get to the Royal Horseguards Hotel arriving shortly after 1:00. During that time Mark made some announcements.  We were able to check in early which was great.  So I fired up my computer and found an email from my cousin, Jane letting me know I needed to make reservations in Cambridge for a place to stay.  I tried but it didn't work.

At 2:30 we met in the room where we were to have High Tea with Jessica Fellows.  High Tea means that there is also food.  Jessica is the niece of Julian Fellows who writes Downton Abbey.  She has written two books on the making of Downton Abbey and a third is coming out this fall.  Before she began her stories we got our tea and food:  scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, finger sandwiches with salmon, coronation chicken and creamed cheese and cucumber, and various small sweets.  They were served on three tiered plate holders.  Jessica told us about her experiences with the actors, her uncle's inspirations for characters, the grueling filming schedule, and the connections of all these to people in their family.  Maggie Smith's character, Violet, is based on Julian's aunt.  At the end she gave us an autographed copy of her book, "The Chronicles of Downton Abbey."  We all enjoyed her presentation very much and most of us had our pictures taken with her.  She was very gracious.  No tidbits on season 5 though.  As we were leaving the tea one of the waiters asked us if she told us that they had filmed part of episode at our hotel four weeks ago on the marble staircase.  This staircase is the largest free-standing marble staircase in Europe and it circles four times in an elliptical shape.

After the tea Larry and I changed clothes and went for a walk.  We walked across the pedestrian bridge that goes over to the London Eye.  When we asked how long the wait was to ride it, it was only 15-20 minutes so we got tickets - pricey!  We really only stood in line for about 10 minutes and we were getting on.  Each module holds about 20 people and it doesn't stop for getting on and off.  It took about half an hour to go all the way around.  Since the sun was in the west it wasn't the best for picture taking but we still enjoyed the view.  When we finished we walked to Westminster Bridge and across to Big Ben then down along the Thames and back to where we started.  We decided to go to Trafalgar Square but didn't even try to get across to it.  Instead we walked back to the Sherlock Holmes Pub.  They were out of Sherlock Holmes Ale so Larry had three pints: Old Speckled Hen, Abbot Ale and Greene King IPA.  While we were there six women from our tour came in to eat and they all got fish and chips which they shared two to a plate.  Larry and I didn't get a meal.  When we left there we walked back to the hotel where Jane and Debbie decided to meet us in the morning to go to the Churchill War Rooms with us tomorrow at 9:30.

Then we went up to our room where I wrote the blogs and then we went to bed.
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Toni Koontz on

Ah, more adventures of our intrepid travelers!!! I will definitely have to look for that staircase.

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