Monday, August 8, 2016

Off to London

August 7-8, 2016

Hello, all. I'll start with a warning: I'm not sure if I'll be able to post photos below or not. I haven't tried keeping the travel log solely via iPad. So we'll see.

Next I'll give you the two most notable aspects of the beginning of this trip so you can stop reading real soon if that's all you want. 1) When I got to DFW airport yesterday (thanks, June; thanks, Richard) and was checking in with British Airways, the attendant noted that they still had business seats open and I could upgrade for $850. Needless to say, this retired librarian passed. (I will be flying business on my return trip--a first!--, but that's due to a special the travel agent was able to offer, and it cost nowhere near $850.)

2) While snaking through the passport control line at Heathrow, I kept thinking a woman a good way behind me sure looked like Elizabeth Warren, and I was debating saying, the next time the line curled, "I bet you get tired of people saying you look like Elizabeth Warren." Then I noticed what looked like some kind of seal hanging on her bag, but she was still too far away for me to tell if it was something official. Then, when she and her husband were close enough, I saw that it said "Senator Warren," so I excused myself to break into their conversation, shook both their hands and told her "I think you're swell." It was fun. A flight from Boston had arrived about the same time as mine.

Okay now: to be more chronological. My sister and brother-in-law got me to the airport a little before three for my 6:10 flight, just in case the security lines were horrendous. They weren't! And I was "free" in no more than thirty minutes. I wandered around a bit in the secure zone; had a baked potato (yes, at the airport!) at a little barbecue place alongside Einstein Bagels and Fuddrucker's; and even got to visit one of the "airline clubs"--I told the woman at the desk that I had a business class flight on my return, but was only premium economy on this flight, so I didn't know if I could go in. She told me to go on in, and I had some Lorna Doones and a cup of tea.

We boarded on time and had no trouble getting away. I had an aisle seat, directly behind the "lavatories" at the back of business class, so there was no one in front of me leaning back into tv screen. (Thanks, Donna!) I couldn't eat the airline supper of course, but I had more tea and ate a packet of tuna and some sandwich cookies I'd brought with me. After supper I watched the British miniseries (only three episodes) "Doctor Thorne," based on a novel by Anthony Trollope. A good show and a good book. Then I watched "London Has Fallen", then I tried to sleep a bit but I don't think I did--thirty minutes maybe. By seven, London time, they were bringing around bagels for breakfast and there was no sleeping for me after that. I'm exhausted and my eyes are watering like crazy.

We landed about nine a.m. (three a.m. Dallas time), and by ten or a little earlier I was through passport control and baggage claim. I had porridge and a cup of tea at a little airport place called something like Giraffe Stop, then bought my Heathrow Express ticket to get to and from Paddington Station and the airport for my return. I wasn't rushing because I was afraid that my hotel room wouldn't be ready if I got there too early. I arrived about 11:30 and the room they had me down for wasn't ready. But they let me leave my bag with them and wanted not to put me in a different room because I'm staying 13 nights and this room, the clerk said is nicer. So that was cool.

I walked over to Whiteley's shopping center to Marks & Spencer Simply Foods (although it's not just food anymore--I saw clothes) for lunch. Even though I'd had a bagel and porridge in the past few hours, and even though it was not quite six a.m. on my internal clock, I was starving. I got a packet of ham, some chips, a croissant and a bottle of water, and headed to Kensington Gardens for a little picnic. (If I can add in photos, I'll put in my little drawing from there.)

Aft lunch, I walked through the park to the Serpentine Gallery (which is closed on Monday, I learned). The sun was coming in and out of the clouds--mostly not--but there was some sun and the temperature was about 70, with a chilly wind, but that's a heat wave to Londoners so the park was packed. (Personally I'd like more heat tomorrow.) With the Serpentine closed, I decided to go on to Victoria & Albert, a huge museum with all kinds of art, some of it replicas so that students can study and learn there. I drew another version of Canova's statue of Theseus and the Minotaur, and if I can I'll put that here as well.

I made it back to the hotel about 2:30 and got into my room. I think the exchange rate right now is about $1.35 to one pound, high is hugely lower than its ever been on any of my trips. I'll find out for sure when I see what my 1070 pound hotel becomes in dollars. I arranged a few things in the room and then headed out again. I didn't want to risk falling asleep too early and then being awake from three a.m. on, or something like that. So I just roamed around for awhile, going west into Notting Hill, a neighborhood I've never done anything with in the past. I visited a couple of bookstores, had some tea and a cookie at Pret-a-Manger, then decided I'd waited long enough. Back to Simply Foods for a bit of supper, some instant porridge for breakfast, and a package of "custard cream" cookies. And now I'm sitting in the room writing to you. Soon I'll try to get this posted, then take a shower, then watch a little tv. Then crash.