Friday, October 5, 2012

The Eye of London Is Upon You

So where was I? The day after we got to London was Saturday, and Anett and her boyfriend were due to arrive mid-morning to spend a few days with us. We had arranged a room at our hotel for them and made some tentative plans for things we could do, including a tour of Buckingham Palace and a ride on the  London Eye. Neal thought we might be able to get tickets to some of the Paralympic events if we went out to Olympic Park. John wanted us to take them to a show, but it needed to be a musical since J speaks barely any English and oh, yeah, he didn’t want to buy the tickets until we were sure nothing happened to upset their travel plans. So there went my hopes of seeing Wicked, and hello, Shrek the Musical. I didn’t really mind.

As soon as they got checked into the hotel and unpacked, the five of us hopped the tube to the Olympic Park. Neal’s friend, who was at one of the events, texted him and assured him there were many empty seats. 

So after two train rides and a long walk, we get to the entrance only to confront a sign that says, “Have your tickets ready”. A quick conversation with a volunteer reveals that no, you can’t buy tickets at the park, and the empty seats are because of people having tickets and not using them. “But if you had been here earlier,” she added, “someone was giving them away.”

Did I mention that all this walking happened on one of those days with the unseasonably high temperatures? 

Oh, well. We reshuffled our plans to do the London Eye next instead, after a quick pub lunch at the Sherlock Holmes. That freed up time the next day to take Annett to Harrod’s, which she really wanted to see. Neal got us fast passes to the Eye online. That still left us some time to walk around the carnival like area surrounding it.

Shrek turned out to be quite enjoyable. I had never seen Shrek, the movie, so the plot twist was a surprise; the songs were pleasant and the acting and staging were good.

The next day of our forced march we got the tickets for Buckingham Palace, which are time specific, and went off to Harrod’s. We needed to take a cab back to get back to the palace on time. Unfortunately, some of the streets were blocked off for the Paralympic marathon, and our cabbie took us on a suspiciously long detour to get us there. We got there with a few minutes to spare, which was a good thing since we discovered we had somehow only bought four tickets. (When I say “we”, I mean John.) The very nice staff let us buy a ticket for the 4:15 tour and then cross  off the time and write in 1:45. The palace state rooms were quite palatial, but I’m not sure I’d want to live there.

After the Palace, we made it to the British Museum in time for an hour of viewing and then went to Tayyab’s, my favorite London restaurant, for dinner.

Then Anett and J went by themselves to Trafalgar Square for some closing events for the Paralympics while John and I staggered back to the hotel. Oh, to be young and energetic. Of course, coming from Hungary, they weren’t jet lagged like us. 

We finished off their trip by touring the Tower of London Monday morning before they had to leave for their plane. This year I was able to climb stairs and tour the interior portions that are open. I didn’t bring my camera.

That gave us half a day to rest up before the indefatigable Chan arrived.

Olympic Park, which usually looks more park-like.

View from the London Eye

View from the London Eye

View from the London Eye

Neal on the left, John on the right, and some unidentified tourist lady.

Aquarium, where we later went with Chan

Buckingham Palace Gardens

Buckingham Palace Gardens

Theater were we saw Shrek, taken with my iPhone

Theater were we saw Shrek, taken with my iPhone

(About the title: it occurs to me that my foreign readers are not aware that there is a song called The Eyes of Texas Are Upon Youset to the tune of I've Been Working on the Railroad. You were probably happier that way.)

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