It's roughly 4:30 in the afternoon here and I'm about ready to say "cheerio". I had hoped to sleep on the plane over here (having only gotten 3 hours sleep the night before I left), but it was just too uncomfortable. So I watched "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" (great movie) and listened to music. We got here a bit early this morning and, then, I was shocked to go to passport control and get into a line that went down 3 hallways. Fully expecting to be there for two hours, I was pleasantly surprised when they moved it right along and I was out in around 40 minutes. Luggage arrived and was undamaged (and also not dirty -- which was surprising). Before leaving home, I had ordered a Travel Card which gives me unlimited travel on the underground and buses and the water taxi on the Thames, so I was able to jump on the train headed toward my hotel. The subway system here is amazing! Both the trains and the stations are clean and have maps and announcements that you can actually understand. Unfortunately, the stations don't have lifts, so I had to lug my suitcases up several flights of stairs when I changed trains. Eventually, though, I got to Victoria Station -- which is my home base for this week.
I'm staying at a bed and breakfast a few blocks from Victoria -- it's called the B&b Belgravia and it's on a narrow street full of these row houses. There are 4 floors (I'm on the top floor -- to quote Richard Gere "because it's the best"), but they don't say it that way here. The lowest floor here is the garden level and it's actually partially below ground, then there's the ground floor, the first floor, and the second floor. I'm pretty pleased with it as I have quite a bit of room, and both a tub and shower. Apparently, that's a bit of a surprise when you get rooms here.
After checking in, I decided to just jump on the Underground and go over a couple more stops so I got out at Westminster. When I walked out of the station, I was literally standing across the street from Big Ben and Parliament. I took a picture with my cell phone for Facebook, but the quality isn't very good so I'll get better pictures. It was pretty stunning, though -- a really beautiful thing.
Ordered a ploughman's lunch and a pint at The Shakespeare pub, but I wouldn't recommend it. The place is obviously for tourists and I was really hungry or would have moved on. I'm hoping for better starting with a full English breakfast tomorrow morning. I'm going on one of those red double-decker hop on/hop off buses tomorrow so I'm thinking that a big breakfast might just hold me 'til tea time. I sure hope the weather cooperates. It apparently rained this morning before our flight got in. When we landed it was quite foggy, which was cool -- very Sherlock Holmes / Jack the Ripper - ish. Then, in was beautiful all day, but started raining just a big ago. Fortunately, I was inside getting my computer hooked up and didn't have to deal with it. This b&b has big windows in the bedroom and bathroom that open all the way, so I can lean out and watch the traffic and the people.
Serious lack of trash cans in this city. I just wanted to get rid of some gum and couldn't find any trash cans in the subway station nor anywhere on the street. You'd think the city would be overrun with litter, but it isn't.
Ok, this is going to sound a little lame, but it's exciting for me. I really like this British Tv series called Midsomer Murders (kind of a Murder, She Wrote type of show but maybe a bit more gruesome), but I always have to wait for the shows to come out on DVD so I'm generally watching them a year or so later. I was debating whether I should go do something tonight or get some badly needed rest so I'll be rarin' to go tomorrow. It turns out that the season premiere of Midsomer Murders is on TV tonight -- so now I can watch it in real time for once!
England is famous for it's black cabs and I intend to ride in one while I'm here. Here's one going by in front of my open window in the rain, and a shot down the street toward the intersection.