Tuesday, June 3, 2008

London, day 1. Off to see the Queen.

Thursday morning Pam picked up me and Peter from the hospital at 7 am sharp and we headed off to the airport to fly to London for the weekend. Peter had recovered quickly and his stellated laceration (thanks for that medical term, Hez!) is a pretty easy location, so he was good to go with plenty of tape and thick thick band of padding. We’d called SAS ahead of time to arrange a wheelchair for Peter at Heathrow in case there was a long walk, and this was a good move... it seemed like miles from the gate, through passport control, baggage claim, customs, and down to the trains.

There’s many ways to get from Heathrow to downtown. We considered taking the tubes, as this would cost only 8 pounds for the family. But the trip would take more than an hour and involve changing trains in unfamiliar stations with all of our bags. Instead we opted for the Heathrow Connect, a modern comfortable train with few stops which got us directly to Paddington station for 24 pounds.

Before leaving Paddington Station we had to find the statue of Paddington Bear... which to our surprise and delight, is right next to a Krispy Kreme donut shop! Ahhhh...

Paddington Station is only a short walk to the apartment we’d rented for the weekend. In Barcelona and again in London, we hunted online for ‘holiday rentals’ and got apartments for half the cost of hotels.

We arrived at the apartment the same time as my cousin Andrew, who took a train down from Leeds to visit with us for a day. He has just finished college and will be working at a law firm in the City of London starting September. He brought bigs bags of sweets for the kids. Mmmm... England has legendary sweets. (Maybe I'm genetically aligned to English flavors anyways.)

After getting settled, we headed off for adventure. It started to rain, a London specialty, but we didn’t mind. It somehow felt more London-y to be rained upon. We cut across Hyde park, a HUGE park in the middle of London, walked along a lake, and stopped for pizza at the Spaghetti House. Peter was wanting to run, climb, and turn somersaults, and it was very hard for him to remember he is damaged. Still, it's good to see he has full energy! We headed off walking down the Mall towards Buckingham Palace.

Here's Pam and Drew in Hyde park, and a sign asking you to not allow your dog to "worry" the wildlife. (That's a funny thing about England, it's so... English!)

I thought these chimneys were cool, too:

Our first sight to see was Buckingham palace. The palace was a disappointment to the kids. It’s just a building. I was already expecting to be disappointed, so it wasn't such a shocker.

From here we walked to the underground and bought Oyster cards. They let you ride the subway for half price and also have a daily maximum charge of about 4 pounds. Kids 10 and under ride for free also, so for us the tubes were the perfect way to get around. Maggie also enjoyed figuring out the system and guiding us through us our stops and transfers.

We rode to Oxford Circus to visit Hanlee’s toy shop, a six story kid wonderland. We had to buy some Doctor Who toys, of course. Here's Peter trying on a Dalek helmet.

Afterwards we bought some matching GAP sweatshirts, picked up some groceries from Marks and Spencers, went back to apartment, bade counsin Andrew farewell and settled in for stories.

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