ó 7:22 p.m.
London, Day 1
Last year, The Girl and I were going to go to Europe. Well, we were going to go to the UK and Ireland, but it didn't work with my work schedule, so we went to Disneyland and spent our money on a new driveway instead. This year, however, The Girl found a great bus tour through Cosmos, which started in London and ended up in Rome. It was a nice compromise, since I had friends to see in London and Paris, and there were other places that she wanted to see besides Ireland. But she still does want to go there.
Once we had our plans in place Ė which we did months in advance Ė I told my friends that we were coming and we made our arrangements. The first thing I have to tell you is how excited I was to travel to Europe. I hadnít been to London, Switzerland, or the north of Italy, and these were all stops along the way, and The Girl had never been to Europe at all. We have taken 7 trips to Mexico together, however, and at least that many to Disneyland, to my parents house (near Las Vegas), and another to Philadelphia for her friends Alison and Jeffís wedding, and still another to Seattle for her cousinís wedding. She and I are very good at traveling together.
This trip was much anticipated though, because Iíve been on the road for nearly 19 months now with my job, and holy fuck did we need a vacation. We went to London a day before the tour actually started so that I could meet up with some friends of mine that live in the London area. Two in particular that I was absolutely DYING to meet in person were two of my blogger buddies Stepfordtart and Annanotbob (see links at left, because I'm too lazy to put them in right now). Iím not even sure how it happened, but weíve been reading one anotherís online diaries for a few years now, and itís really amazing how close you can get just by getting a little piece of someoneís life here and there, and writing a little comment. Of course they update their blogs much more frequently than I do, Iíve been horrible lately, dreadful sorry. Itís Facebookís fault.
Stepfie lives about an hour SW of London, and Anna bout 45 min SE of London. They are friends in real life because of Diaryland, and now all 3 of us are. Iím flattered that they came all that way to see me, and theyíre both so fun and such lovely people. They both got on famously with The Girl, of course, but sheís lovable like that. We visited, had some drinks and Anna modeled this huge coat that sheíd gotten from one of the shops somewhere nearby. Itís perfect for her! Stepfie was everything that I expected (you are!) and I feel so fortunate to have come across such lovely people.
Beyond Stepfie and Anna, I also told my JREF forum friends that I was coming, and though not everyone could make it, two of the people that I really wanted to see again, Sid and Chris showed up, and it had been Ė 2.5 years since Iíd seen either of them, and 2 other gents, John and Simon, whom Iíd only known from their forum posts, came to the pub also. All told 6 people. Awesome.
We couldnít have had more fun. There were new ales to try, new methods of doing things, and even getting to the pub was an adventure. Of course The Girl and I had arrived in London that day at noon. The flight on British Airways left Denver about an hour or so late, but I had a few cocktails, so I didnít care. I had the window seat and I pretty much just crashed for the first 6 hours or so of the flight. I slept through the first service, etc. Kim had much more difficulty sleeping, but I usually have no problem sleeping on airplanes.
After we deplaned in London, we got onto a bus to drive us to the terminal. Of course in England, the driver is on the right side, not the left, so when we moved up to the front of the bus, (which was stuffed with people) I gestured to the front of the bus and asked The Girl where the bus driver was. Granted, she was tired, but still, I had her going for 10 seconds or so. Hahahaha
Anyways, we made it through the very efficient passport control, which was well-staffed and quick, we had to wait almost no time for our bags, then I got some pounds from the ATM and we met our tour person on the other side. We did have to wait a bit for our hotel shuttle, but whatever. After about an hour or so we were at the hotel, and after a bit I let Kim take a nap while I went out for a coffee and found the Tube stop, which was just a block up at High Street Kensington.
Of course, the pub that I had setup to meet everyone at was The Black Friar, which is at Blackfriars stop on the Tube. No. That stop is bloody closed until summer of 2010. Fuck. Well we had to get off at the previous stop and walk along the Thames for about a kilometer to get there, then cross the street, etc. No big deal and we arrived only a few minutes late.
At 6:45 or 7 Sid showed up, and he brought Pork Scratchings, which became the momentary center of attention. Ah, what a great time. Stepfie and Anna had to leave at 9, but the visit was so wonderful, and the conversation covered everything from Music to politics to healthcare to Sidís recent wedding to Rebecca (the head of Skepchick.org), to what Anna was going to do with the gift that we brought her from Colorado. Good times.
At 10:30 or so, John buggered off cause he had to work in the morning (everyone did, but he was DONE) and the rest of us walked over to Waterloo train station, where Sid and Chris had to depart from. We were starving by then too, so Sid stopped us by the Fishcotheque for some fish and chips to go, which we took to a park at the base of the London Eye Ferris wheel and ate hungrily. Chris left to catch his train at this point, but Sid, the consummate gent, walked us across the river to make sure we could find the Tube again, where we parted ways. I hope to see all of my London friends again soon. And that was our first day in London.