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London, England, November 25, 2003 - December 2, 2003
Teri and I were invited to visit London with my family over Thanksgiving this year. They visit London regularly but I have never been there.
Teri had spent a couple of days in London on a business trip a few years back and has been traveling a lot lately, so she decided to stay home. But my strong desire to travel this year coupled with cheap air fares made this an opportunity I couldn't pass up. This would be my first trip to London.
I drove to LAX airport on November 25. After checking in (the checkin counter was deserted), I had lunch at the Encounter Restaurant in the Theme Building. The service was slow, but Encounter is a very cool place. It was redesigned a few years back by Walt Disney Imagineers.
I had lucked out and gotten a great rate on a non-stop flight from LAX to London so there would be no changing planes. The flight was about 10 hours. I left in the evening from LAX and, with the eight-hour time change, arrived the next day at noon. So the photos start on Day 2 since Day 1 was on the plane.
We arrived early at Heathrow because we had a very strong tailwind, as much as 100 MPH at times. As I was walking toward baggage claim, I saw someone point out the window and I looked out and saw a Concorde taking off. I later learned that this was the last Concorde takeoff ever as the last Concorde was being flown to Filton Airport, where it was built and will eventually be housed in a museum. I regret I did not get a photo.
Melyssa and Bryan, my sister and brother, waited for me at the airport and we all got on the Tube (subway) for our ride into the city. The subway train was jam-packed the whole way.
We stayed in a basement (the brits call it "ground floor") apartment at Collingham Serviced Apartments in the Kensington area of London. This was a three bedroom, three bath apartment with a small kitchen and was very convenient to be all together (compared to being in three separate hotel rooms). The Earl's Court Tube stop was just a few blocks away so it was fairly well located.
Saturday night we went to the theater and saw Tom Stoppard's Jumpers. This was a very unusual play but quite entertaining. My family are big Tom Stoppard fans.
We discovered a silly old Japanese game show called Takeshi's Castle, which we watched for hours. The premise is the contestants are challenged to do outrageous stunts that are so difficult everyone eventually fails, usually by falling in a pond of muddy water. We never saw a winner on Takeshi's Castle.
I was surprised at how old everything in London is. The Tube (subway) in particular seemed very dilapidated but despite that it was working well when I was there and we used it extensively to get around.
Coming from Southern California, I am not used to big cities with high-density housing and commercial zones within walking distance of residences. So that by itself is quite different from what I am used to, and then London adds another layer of interesting strangeness on top of that.
I really enjoyed my trip to London and would like to go back for another visit. Although I saw a lot in the time I was there, there are still a lot of tourist attractions that I didn't get to see and a lot of shopping left to do. And I wish Teri could have been with me. Next time...
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Copyright © 2003 Teri & Allyn Fratkin, All Rights Reserved.