2011 UK and Ireland travel blog

Lions on the Embankment

The Tower of London

Entrance to "The Mall"

"Big Ben" Actually the clock tower

Pat at Picadilly Circus

The Nell Gwynne- a very old pub down a narrow alley

London Calling...in the immortal words of my favourite English punk/new wave band The Clash so eloquently stated...here we are. Day 2 yesterday being that lost day of long travel, check in and exhaustion. It was a long very uncomfortable flight. Our hotel is the Strand Palace Hotel. on The Strand about 3 blocks (North Van blocks) from Trafalgar Square. Lovely and majestic hotel across from the Savoy really in the heart of London. And even for me after 41 years London is still quite like I remember. Vibrant, intriguing, so limitlessly consuming and often overwhelming, so unlike all other cities. We toured today in one of those open topped double deckers (all buses are double deckers and one-after-the-other) that give an over view of all the major sights...Tower Of London, Tower Bridge, Big Ben, St. Paul's Cathedral, Buckingham Palace and so many more. We will explore in following days the most interesting. All in London is interesting, there is simply too much for 5 days. I took off for a couple hours today exploring CD stores and of course found just about all for which I have been searching. So very many of the impossible to find CDs at home. I easily could have spend a thousand pounds, only my well known discipline preventing me from doing such. We lunched these 2 days in classic English pubs, dining on classic English pub fare and ale. As should be the experience has been as expected. Wonderful food and atmosphere as only can be experienced in London. London for me is familiar yet changed. The face of London is different and I do not recall it being this humid in summer. If one regards Vancouver as being multi-cult well it pales in comparison to London. The most immediate difference is with the number of smokers. Now I am not one who considers a smoker to be worse than Hitler as seems to be the Vancouver attitude and I have never been able to wrap my head around the idea of completely smoke-free pubs, but even here that dominates. But at least they do accommodate those social pariahs by allowing them to take their pints outside the pub to an accommodating connecting shelf to imbibe. Not unusual to see more patrons outside than inside. But then Mark Twain said it best...You go to Heaven for the Climate, you go to Hell for the Company. If London reflects the evolution of Western culture, well my friends prepare for Muslim influence. Our hotel is dominated by German tourists. Pushy arrogant Germans so of course we know not to mention The War. Dominating the morning buffet line of which of course I refuse to participate. Forgetting to bring my personal tongs to access the offerings I am nevertheless gratified. The eggs offered certainly did not come from any species of chicken known in North America and it chagrins me to say that Joan did indeed manage to fight off the Germans for blood/black pudding. I found a Starbucks four doors down. Exactly like home in every way except for the cute little Swedish barista I could not understand and she couldn't me. Ah good North American strong black coffee. It is hot and humid. A wonderful day in London and more tomorrow, so until then this is Steve and Joan and Patricia saying...more to follow

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