s a n d y f e e t . e x p o . e u r o p a . 9 8

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July 4th in London

Three working capitals in four days! How many other travelers have been willing (or foolish enough) to attempt THAT, I wonder?

In spite of the fact that we 1. didn't have to change money; 2. spoke the language and 3. had a person in our party who grew up just miles from London, we had more trouble finding a room here than anywhere else. We drove round and round looking for some sort of sign. Counted ourselves lucky when we finally found one close to Victoria Station even though we once again had to trudge our luggage up 4 flights of incredibly narrow stairs. It was also the most expensive (51 pounds), the toilet and shower down the hall were the most hilarious yet (only in retrospect) and the water never did get hot. (Cold shower #2.) Set off to explore and turned the first corner to stumble over hotel row (of course.)

big ben
guard This part of London is a busy jump spot for kids of all nationalities bumming around Europe. All the different languages being spoken made it feel a lot like Amsterdam. We walked around and saw all the things you had better see if you only have a few hours - Big Ben, Westminister Abby, The House of Parliament and a statue of Richard the Lion-Hearted I found very impressive. I felt this strange compulsion to get my picture taken with an unsmiling guard in full regalia and Russell was embarassed but took it for me anyway.

We grabbed a jacket (stuffed potato) and then off to Picadilly Circus. It's just like the pictures! Russell told me the tradition after gawking the Circus is to get a pint in a pub. I did find it highly suspicious that the Croatia vs. Germany soccer game started the minute we walked in - but it was an exciting upset and I am a bit worried that I am starting to find soccer to be - somewhat interesting.4th of July

The red white and blue balloons and other decorations in the pub reminded me that it was the 4th of July. The very accommodating barkeep wrapped me up in all the red white and blue stuff on the premises and took my picture.

picadilly circus
buckingham We got turned around trying to find our way back to the hotel and ended up at another pub - one that advertised itself as the oldest village pub in England - just before closing time. The keep wore an over-sized Uncle Sam hat and kindly directed us back to our room by way of Buckingham Palace - which is disappointingly un-palace like in appearance. Nevertheless, the fountain in front of it is gorgeous and the one light on in the uppermost corner had us speculating as to whether the Queen herself was up late reading or working a crossword puzzle..
We set the alarm for an early departure - off to Gatwick to ship me back to Texas. Russell nodded off quickly but I was still too jazzed from all I had seen over the past week to sleep and sat for a long time looking out our tiny window as the half moon rose over the chimney pots, wondering if I would ever get to see this part of the world again... Trafalgar Square

But I only thought I was leaving today.

Russell dropped me at Gatwick with time to spare - at the wrong terminal but I quickly found the right one and the right set of British Airway lines to wait in. Unfortunately, I had pulled my usual stunt of picking the slowest-moving one and by the time I got to the head of the queue it was only 1/2 hour before our scheduled departure and they wouldn't let me on - no matter how hard I pleaded and sobbed. (I suspect they had overbooked the flight and were looking for an easy way to bump someone. British Airways will be hearing from me in the very near future) They booked me for the same flight the next day at no extra charge but were not interested in putting me up for the night.

No choice but to convert my last travelers cheques to pounds, check my baggage for tomorrow so that I could at least use the bathroom, and throw myself at the mercy of the lady behind the hotel information counter. Got the cheapest, closest thing available (here in East Sussex) which is where I am as I write this wishing I was halfway to Texas instead. (Transportus Interruptus I think you would call it.)

next: final thoughts and conclusions
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