Kings, Queens and Double Decker Buses

Trip Start Mar 12, 2005
Trip End Mar 20, 2005

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Monday, March 14, 2005

Visit Klenske, Ink.

It may have took us a bit longer to get here then expected, but we made it, just the next day. We flew out of Dubuque fine, but once we boarded our plane in Chicago, and sat there on the runway for two hours, we were told that it wasn't working and we would have to wait for another plane to come in... at 7pm. After a 10 hour delay, we were off, getting to London around 8 the next morning.

Not being one to give in to jet lag, we dove right into exploring the city on roughly two hours of sleep in a span of at least 35 hours. Call it practice for when we get that call to be contestants on CBS's The Amazing Race. (Except, with our luck in getting airplanes to fly on time, I don't think we would last long).

Our hotel, the Fielding Hotel, is located in Covent Garden, right in the heart of London's famed West End and within walking distance of everything: shopping, eating, drinking, theater, museums, historical sites, red phone booths, black taxis and red double decker buses. London is at our doorstep, or more correctly down a narrow salmon painted hallway, down three flights of narrow steps, and then out a tiny doorway and onto the doorstep.

It took awhile before it finally sunk in. We are in London. This is the city that history geeks (let's not mention names here) grow up reading and dreaming about. Kings and queens and rolling heads, the bombings of the World Wars, the great imperial empire, and literary greats such as Shakespear, Dickens and Sherlock Holmes. And now here we were walking through the Tower of London, built in the year 1000. The site of many beheadings, including a number of King Henry VIII's wives. ("Henry the eighth I am I am, Henry the eighth I am"...Damn song was in my head the entire tour). We saw the armor of kings of the past, including that of King Henry VIII ("I am I am...) and the crown jewels of the more recent kings and queens. All the while, Tower Bridge was looming over the castle's cold stone walls with the River Thames slowly gliding beneath it. Here, I felt I had found the London I dreamed of, or ah, I mean here is where I found the London that history geeks dreamed of...

But I digress. Back to what we actually have been doing since we arrived on Spring Holiday. We spent Saturday, our first day in town, wandering around randomly (after all, we are from Iowa and have to maintain our slogan of Idiots Out Wandering Around) and haphazardly taking in many of the sites. We saw Parliament and Big Ben, Westminister Abbey and Buckingham Palace with its constantly marching royal guards. We walked through SoHo and the red light district, ate an early dinner and watched a bit of the Six Nations Rugby Tournament, and then went to the Tate Modern Museum of Art for the evening opening. We took a relaxing stroll along the banks of the Thames, up to the millennium bridge, and to the museum. The museum itself, also a millennium project built in an abandoned warehouse, contained an excellent collection of modern works from the likes of Warhol, Picasso, Monet and many more. The side of the building that faces the river is made entirely of glass and provides excellent views of the dome of St. Paul's church. On the seventh floor, where there is an upscale restaurant and bar/lounge, we found a couch, ordered a drink, and enjoyed the view, at the risk of us falling a sleep on the soft leather cushions. But alas, jet lag caught up with us and it was time to crash, back at our hotel.

With a solid 12 hour 'nap' under us, we were recharged and ready for Sunday. The morning was spent at the Tower of London (see above, for those in their elder years, read again to refresh and then return to this paragraph. Good luck). On our way home from the Tower we ventured into the world of the Underground. Suprisingly, we were able to figure out "the tube" on our first try. We came out from below and heard some music, Irish music at that, and saw lots of drunk people wearing green. "Looks like something we'd be interested in", we thought, and with a bit of wandering we found ourselves amongst the drunks, with pints in our hands, working to catch up and listening to a great Irish band in a crowd of thousands in Trafalgar Square. It was London's annual St. Patrick's Day festival, and everyone had managed to find a bit of Irish in their blood. What I really love about this country is that when someone is completely drunk out of their mind (not me, mind you) and climbing up on top of a fence, the police come to tell him to get down, they hold his beer, help him down, and then give him his pint back. Talk about a commitment to serving their community!

A couple of pints kept us warm for a bit, but the cold finally got the best of us and we headed home to get ready for our date with the London Eye Ferris Wheel. The Eye was also a millennium project and was suppose to only remain on the banks of the Thames until 2005, but since it is one of London's top tourist sites, the city just recently decided to keep it there permanently. We had reservations for a private champagne trip on the river-side Ferris wheel with our own host. We were lucky in that we were the only ones with reservations for the night (there's usually about fifteen couples). With our advanced reservations, we were able to skip to the front of the que and head right into our capsule for our ride. Our host joked that everyone else in line probably thought we were famous, seeing us being escorted in. The views of London at night provided by the Eye were fantastic. Our host, after realizing we weren't going to spend the ride making out (which I guess many romantics tend to do), decided to chat with us and give us an aerial tour of his home town. After our flight on the Eye, we went for a late dinner at an Italian restaurant back in Covent Garden and called it a night. "Henry the 8th I am I am, Henry the 8th I am..."

Klenske, Ink.: Freelance Travel Writer
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Kelly Mitchell on

Sounds fab! We have a Blog too, if you want to take a look, or our website which is which has hundreds of Bed and Breakfasts all over the UK and Ireland for your next trip!

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