Our first full day in London. What to do?
I slept in until noon. Jason slept in until 3 in the afternoon. I suppose that’s the result of a combination of jetlag, exhaustion, and staying up late. At least he slept in. Ellen, Kayla, and I played various forms of solitaire, while Ryan played video games on a smartphone.
Once Jason woke up, everyone ate breakfast (at 4 in the afternoon), and we headed out to take a bus tour.
We all bought oyster cards, which are London’s equivalent of a TxTag in Texas, a prepaid card for public transit. (TxTags are for toll roads, but that’s pretty much as close as we come to public transit). We took the Underground to Paddington Square.
The square was full of life. Thousands of people streamed through the international center of London. There was even a Five Guys. There was a M&M world, as well as a LEGO store with a line so long they had bouncers keeping people out. In the square, a few hundred people had gathered to watch a man on a 10-foot (3 meter?) tall unicycle juggle knives while he balanced a hackeysack on his foot. Unfortunately, we missed the part of the trick where he got on a ten-foot unicycle, but by how effortlessly he peddled back-and-forth during his routine I had no doubt it was trivial for him.
According to our tour guide, some street performers have to get licensed to operate in especially busy areas.
After seeing the show, we walked down to a pub called “The Porcupine.” The dining room was up a narrow and rickety set of stairs, designed for people just slightly shorter than my own 6 foot stature. Instead if porcupines, they served various forms of meat - I had sausage on mashed potatoes, Ellen and Jason shared a chicken topped with bacon, and Dad and Kayla had chicken and pork pies. I was much too scared to try those.
After dinner we went to our bus stop. Apparently the Original Tour company was allowed to use some of the same stops as the public transit system. As in the movies, all of the buses here are double-decked. The tour bus was open-topped, and for some reason it was exceedingly cold. It was the evening of a summer day, and Ellen and I were shivering against the wind. The tour guide on the bus gave entertaining stories for all of the major sites: the Eye,
the Big Ben (which they’re thinking of rebuilding),
the Tower of London (not, actually, a tower, but rather a castle that used to be surrounded by a moat of sewage),
the Tower Bridge (which used to be a gaudy blue-and-white), among much, much more.
We didn’t get to see the London Bridge, because there was a terrorist attack the night before, and CSI still had the bridge closed off. The tour guide repeatedly assured us that we were safe, and thanked us for visiting even with the terrorist attacks. I didn’t even learn about it until we got on the bus, but I still would’ve come.
After the bus tour let off, we stopped in a World of Candy store by the Underground station. It was full of sweets and bright colors, Dad let us each buy one piece. There were chocolates, gummies, chocolate frogs, and even an adult section.
I’ll let you imagine what adult candy is.
I’ll give you a hint: We got lots of schoolboy giggling out of it.