|This morning I slept in a bit and took my time getting ready. I'm still not completely adjusted to England's time zone. By the time I got into London, checked my luggage at the left luggage service and bought my train ticket to Stansted, I only had three hours to explore the city. I decided to go check out HMS Belfast but stopped at the Monument beforehand since I had to change tube lines at that station anyway. I walked out of the station and spotted a Starbucks. I didn't see the Monument anywhere so I grabbed a snack and juice in Starbucks to help wake up a bit. The snacks at Starbucks here are a bit different than back home (and they don't have cinnamon dolce syrup year round, which seems to me to be a terrible lack of consistency) so I decided to try the chocolate chunk shortbread, which sounded like a nice combination of two things I love. It turns out it's a bloody awful mix.
The Monument was a stone's throw from Starbucks but I didn't spot it at first because it was completely wrapped in scaffolding and didn't stand out as one would expect. So much for the Monument.
Back into the tube station and over to London Tower. When I got up on the street there I noticed it was swarming with tourists and decided I wasn't really interested in touring the tower today. Instead I walked across the Tower Bridge to where the HMS Belfast was docked. I got a free audio guide with my admission and also bought the souvenir booklet. I ended up spending my entire two and a half remaining hours there. It was so cool being on a Royal British Navy ship and listening to the testimonies from men who served aboard. The ship is massive and has all sorts of areas for the men living on the ship and obviously for battle as well, and they have recreated daily life on board very well with displays and sound effects throughout. It was probably one of the coolest things I have seen in my life. Not to downplay the awesomeness of swimming with leopard sharks, bathing elephants and walking on the Great Wall with my sister, but how often do you get to walk all over a warship at your leisure?
All the other activities I had considered for the day were abandoned and once I finally handed back the audio guide, I had to go straight to the London Bridge station and get myself back to Liverpool Street to pick up my luggage and get on the train to Stansted.
Stansted is a surprisingly nice airport. I was expecting something low budget to match the airline I chose, one of many that fly from Stansted. But the airport has lots of shops and restaurants and is large enough to require a train between boarding gates and check-in counters.
Now I am on my flight to Basel, which is a shame as I was assimilating into British life quite nicely. I have had to fight the impulse to call everyone "love" and snack on crisps. I do look forward to a bit of a kip and giving a few people a bell. On the other hand, I am looking forward to seeing Switzerland for the first time, especially now that the flight attendant has announced it is still 23C there at 20:30 Basel time. The weather in and around London this week has been good and reasonably warm, but has also been wet for at least a short period each day.
We departed about 40 minutes late but are still somehow scheduled to land on time. I don't have to go into the office until 10:00 tomorrow and intend and making the most of my morning, if I can drag myself out of bed early, as it is pretty much the only time I'm going to have to myself here. I am a bit concerned though, as all the Britons have been telling me how expensive it is in Switzerland. This is coming from people who live near London ... yikes! I guess I will find out for myself soon enough.