London - incredible culture, museums, history, architecture et al, and all in danger of losing their charms on travelers too tired to appreciate them. What we really need to see (if not our own beds) is not more old buildings, but some old and dear friends.
And with that in mind, we found just the tonic, (and not the tonic to go with our British Gin) and not just once, but twice, in jolly old England! In addition to rekindling our long-standing love for the grossly touristy "Hop On Hop Off" bus system, we also had the pleasure of rekindling two state-side friendships. One from San Francisco and one from Chicago. One family right here in the city and one in the suburbs. Both visits were "lovely", and one made for a nice train ride out out town.
Plus, we also did some touristy things the first couple of days and got a taste of what we want to see on our last day in London (and of the trip) after we return from Scotland!
P.S. The most interesting thing I learned on the bus tour was that many of the favorite tourist sites like Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey aren't even really in London proper. They are in the city of Westminster (called 'the town') which next to London (called 'the city'). It was an outgrowth of London "out in the countryside" so the monarchy could get away from the filth of London.
The City of Westminster describes an area no more than 1 mile (1.6 km) from Westminster Abbey and Palace of Westminster north of the Thames. Its name derives from the west Minster, or monastery church, west of the City of London's St Paul's. The area has been the seat of the government of England for almost a thousand years. The name is also used for the larger City of Westminster which is one of the relatively homogeneously sized divisions of the capital (London boroughs); and, since 1965, has included the former boroughs of Marylebone and Paddington.
P.S.S. Suzanne found a cute (and cheap) London row house for rent. It is in a neighborhood like Bucktown, which means about 1/3 are already renovated and gorgeous, and the other 2/3's are waiting their turns. It is fun and walking up and down to the 5-levels makes us feel like real Londoners!
I love London. I was lucky enough to spend a week here about 20 years ago while in college. I remember finding the city so easy to get around and everything about it just clicked for me. I was so excited to get back with Mike and the kids to show them what I loved about it. Plus Maddy had picked London to explore all things Harry Potter. (More to come on that in a later post)
The good thing is that London is still just as fabulous as I remember. Easy to navigate, everyone speaks our language and there is so much to see. The bad news is that we are exhausted and counting down the days until we get home. Luckily, London will be a quick and easy trip for the kids if/when they ever want to return.
As Mike has mentioned we have shortened our time in London a bit so it's meant less sightseeing and less time with friends. We were lucky enough to have a great dinner with our friends from San Francisco. It's been years since we have seen Brian and Melinda and their kids. Now that the kids are all grown up they got a chance to get to know each other. Mind you they did it in the virtual world of a Minecraft realm, but they found a way to connect. Makes a parent proud.
Head out to the suburbs and there is a bit more space. The Murrays from Hinsdale have only been back in London for a year but it was lovely to catch up and see how much the kids have grown. Hannah is a full on teenager and Alec looks like one. Very handsome. And nothing brings kids that barely remember each other together like a backyard trampoline. Nothing.
Thanks for Sam and Malcolm for the great hospitality and the hours of jumping fun in Farnham. Mike and I are betting that any list of favorite memories will include the Murray's trampoline. Now, how do we get one of these in Hinsdale???