Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Gang in London

July 9th was a day Teriann and I had been waiting for for months. Finally the morning came and the three of us (Adam had been here for a week — practically a local!) went to Heathrow to get Stephanie and Art.

Teriann was supposed to go to work that day, but she called in sick. Since Steph and Art thought that only Adam and I would be picking them up, Teriann hid while we greeted them. Just as I was explaining how sorry Teriann was that she couldn't make it, out she popped from behind a column! Totally worth it.

We brought them home to drop off their bags, and instead of immediately hitting up London's top tourist sites, the boys hit up the beer bong that had been such a hit at the Fourth of July party. Yes, we are wearing matching hats.

When we finally got on our way, we had lunch at the Lido in Hyde Park (still the best place for lunch in London in my book) and rummaged around Hyde Park and Oxford St. Here, I knight Art with a tree branch.

By the time we got to Piccadilly Circus, our fellow travelers had to take a break. 16 or so hours of sitting on a plane will do that to you! After a nap and a barbecue in our garden, we went down the road for a quiet night at the local Red Lion and Pineapple.

Friday saw four major events. 1) Photo shoot by Big Ben.

2) An incredible tour of Westminster Abbey by Graeme (who, in addition to being far more interesting than the audio tour, let us into the shrine of St. Edward the Confessor and got us seats in the Choir for Evensong. From further away in the Abbey, any music sounds like it's underwater, but up close, hearing that choir is a transporting experience.

3) A Little Night Music. Stephen Sondheim's 1973 musical is a great show and the performance we saw was excellent. In a harrowing coincidence, Julie (whose flight had been delayed four hours) arrived just in time for the curtain, storing her luggage in a usher's closet.

4) Our first night out as a group since January: a rip-roarin' good time at the Redback worthy of our best nights last summer.

Saturday saw us hitting up Hyde Park again to partake in our favorite London tradition: squirrel feeding.

Adam, however, took a shining to another kind of wildlife: pigeons.

After a trek through the city and a snack at my second-favorite place for lunch in London (the World Food Cafe in Neal's Yard), we played on the lions in Trafalgar Square, dragged our weary feet through the British Museum, and wearily wondered what to do next.

Dinner was just the thing. I've always been suspicious of chains like Bella Italia, but my reservations were completely unfounded: our meal was fantastic (possibly the best of the whole trip) and the bottles of rosé helped too. I've never really cared for wine, but that night was a turning point: the first time I've actually enjoyed it, and the first of several affectionately-named 'wino nights' of the trip. Again, an epic, summer-grade night ensued!

On our last day in London (as a whole group), we did the two biggest attractions: the Tower of London and the London Eye.

One last thing: our plan was to pack and catch a late-night screening of Bruno. While packing, however, we discovered that we had run out of time. We would need to leave immediately to make the showing we had planned on, and we weren't packed. We sat wondering what to do, whether to go to a later show or not at all, when Teriann had a brilliant idea: "Guys, let's go right now!" We looked at each other for a second, and burst into motion, pulling on shoes and frantically grabbing keys. Sure, we only got about two hours of sleep before getting on the early train to Paris the next morning, but hey — what else is vacation for?

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