In London - Catching Our Breath

My First View of StonehengeStonehenge!

We are in our rented London flat now.  It is an excellent one-bedroom flat in St. Christopher’s Place, which is of one of busiest shopping streets in the world - Oxford Street.  Luckily, we are on a quiet branch of the busy hustle and bustle of the main shopping lane.

We arrived in London early Thursday afternoon by coach (bus) from our time in Bath.  I meant to blog more often than I have and about our last two days in Bath, as well as our past two days here, but the jet lag is still hitting me.  Farrah and I find ourselves up at 5:00 am, then knackered by 1:00 pm in the afternoon.  We get our second wind after a quick afternoon nap.  Hopefully, we’ll be on full London time by tomorrow.

Stonehenge and Avebury via Mad Max

On Tuesday we took the Mad Max tour of Stonehenge and Avebury stone circles.  Mad Max Tours received a very good review in the trip planning references we used.  I thought the tour was going to be rough when we first got on the small tour bus of about 12 people.  Our tour guide Nick seemed a little flustered in the beginning, but his demeanor and the tour picked up as we moved through the day.

I suppose stone circles can look like large rocks placed in unusual but possibly significant positions, but the mysticism that surrounds these formations is hard to ignore.  We arrived at Stonehenge after an hour’s ride from Bath.  The drive was uneventful.  We were the first tour group to arrive at Stonehenge.  This afforded us the opportunity to view Stonehenge without the many people coming in ten minutes after our arrival.

The photo above represents the first time I saw Stonehenge. I know it’s not the best photo, but it is an honest representation of what I first saw.  I can honestly tell you my heart skipped a beat upon seeing Stonehenge on the horizon.  To see Stonehenge in person is amazing.  We were able to walk around the whole structure.  I know we took too many photos, but I wasn’t sure what photos were going to turn out with the cloudy slash sunny weather we were having.

After Stonehenge, we headed to Avebury, another stone formation.  Avebury is not as famous as Stonehenge, but the rock formations are just as impressive.  The rocks at Avebury are more natural whereas the stones at Stonehenge were beaten smooth.

We then took a short ride to Lacock where we ate lunch at a small pub there, the George Inn.  We had the fish and chips there with a pint of Guinness for me and a half pint of the local bitter for Farrah.  We chatted it up with some of the other people on tour with us, finding out that two of the other single passengers were from California - one from San Diego and the other from Mountain View!  Small world.

Lacock has been used as a filming location from time to time since it can represent old England and it is a tiny town.  It has been employed in such productions as “Pride and Prejudice” (BBC version), Harry Potter, and a new Dame Judi Dench BBC mini-series.

Family in Bath

Wednesday morning we went to a hairdresser in Bath.  Not just any ordinary hairdresser but Farrah’s host mom’s business in Bath.  At first, Lin (Linda) wasn’t sure who she was seeing peering through her door, but after a quick smile and a “Do you recognize me?” from Farrah, memories of Farrah’s stay in Bath nine years ago came rushing back.

Farrah and Lin talked for about half an hour, which consisted of introducing me,  and quickly catching up on time spent apart.  Lin invited us to dinner that night, an opportunity to catch up with Brian and Louise.  We spent the rest of the daylight going to the Costume Museum and other sites we wanted to see before we were to leave on Thursday morning.

At about 4:30 pm, we started the slightly long uphill walk to Lin’s home.  Farrah said she remembered how to get there, questioned her recollection about halfway through our walk, then assuredly guided us to the right place.  The rain was steadily coming down that night.

We arrived at Lin, Brian, Louise, and Barnaby’s lovely home with smiles and hugs.  We spent the next four hours drinking wine, eating dinner, and talking about everything under the sun.  It was a lovely evening spent with warm, genuine people who I know Farrah can honestly call her family across the pond.

Our time spent in Bath was enjoyed to the fullest.  I wish we could devote more time there, but we needed to head off to the second part of our journey.

Travel Day

Thursday found us partaking in one last early morning walk around Bath, then a quick breakfast before catching the coach to London.  The three-and-a-half-hour drive to London wore us out.  Once we got off the coach, we headed to the crowded Tube station.  We bought an Oyster card which seemed more economical for our 10 stays in London.  Loading the card took a considerable amount of time as the blasted machine did not want to read my credit card.  Imagine the frustration after the tiring coach trip!

We boarded one Tube train and then another to our destination.  I must stay the Tube platform looked like a movie set.  Nice, clean, and unreal.  I’ll need to take photos of the station sometime later.  I couldn’t at that time as our hands were full with the luggage.

When we got out of the Bond Street Tube station to locate the rental office, it was pouring rain.  Oxford Street was crowded with shoppers even though it was raining cats and dogs.  We managed to quickly find the rental office, only about a three-minute walk from our location.  We received the keys from Lizzie - our representative at Globe - then found our flat.

The flat is beautiful and roomy, having a nice small kitchen, bedroom, bath, etc.  We’ve settled in pretty well, having bought the necessary groceries at the local Tesco Express.  I am happy we rented a flat, allowing us to live the local experience, unlike a hotel room.  Plus it almost cost the same as a decent hotel room here in pricey London!

Anyway, as I finish this up, it is coming up at 1:00 AM.  I better get some rest.  Farrah is already asleep.

I’ll blog more when I can.

AJ Giron @verbal