subtitle: Where's the Stiff Upper Lip?
Journal for Monday, Feb. 2, London
(My apologies to any British or Londoners out there who might be reading this journaling over the next couple of days. But, come on! You really set yourself up for this, and one totally fun part of this trip was laughing at your reaction to snow!)
On Monday morning, we woke up to a transformed world, with a nice, sparkly cosmetic white dusting over everything. I thought it was much prettier than the gray of London I'd seen on my way in by train.
And then we headed down the stairs to our English breakfast, only to be told that the staff hadn't been able to make it in because of the snow, but we could have tea, coffee and toast. In fact, all over the hotel were signs telling us that all transportation in London was shut down! The airports were closed, all schools closed, no buses, no Tube, no trains. (No tube???? It's underground! Something about the 3rd rail getting wet. . . but it DOES rain in London, doesn't it?)
We decided to don our cuddle duds (remember my post about them?) and head on out, using our standard "penguin shuffle" on about 2" of snow and ice. It tends to be quite effective: a wide stance (no Minneapolis airport jokes here), shuffling on the super slick, fast speed on dry patches to pick up the pace. Every where we looked, people were taking photographs and my kids thought that for once, there mother blended in a little better.
Just behind these phone booths is Russel Park. We had planned to walk through it to head to the center of the City, but they even closed the parks, locking the gates, because of the snow! Don't ask me why!
On this first day of the "tsnownami", the Londoners were quite cheerful and chatty on the street, although the general friendliness didn't last, and I suspect it was unusual rather than standard. Before I took this photo of the snowman, a Londoner informed me I had to get permission from the snowman first, and he carried on a little conversation with the snowman and got permission for me.
Our first stop was the British Museum, but we were told it was closed due to the "adverse weather conditions." So we headed to Covent Gardens.
Ummm. . . not much happening or open in Covent Gardens. Usually it's filled with street performers, vendors and tourists. London has such an interesting history, much of it involving bloodshed, plague, fire, and gallows. On this day, the big threat were the flying snowballs.
By the time we got to the Portrait Gallery, the "closed" signs were getting a bit old and disappointing. I particularly did not like the tone of "if at all."
We decided to head to the London Eye. Originally, I hadn't planned on spending money on the London Eye as it seemed quite expensive for what struck me to be like a glass elevator that would rotate like a ferris wheel and give you a view of the city. But we had only 4 days in London, and we were getting desperate to get to do SOME of the things of London.
Here, just beyond these protesters ("Stop the Killing in Tibet) and police, you can see the London Eye. It wasn't moving.
This was one of my favorite parts of our London trip. . . Westminster Abbey. And it was open! And no lines! Isn't it pretty, covered in snow? They provide an audioguide and you tour it at your own pace. It was beautiful and fascinating (and open! Did I mention "open?"), and the tour provided more of a glimpse of the history of London and its monarchy. It's also the burial or memorial spot of many writers and poets of England. Unfortunately, photography was not allowed inside.
Here's an entrance to the Westminster Tube station. Dianna, (in the foreground) was quite cold by now. She actually wasn't wearing a winter jacket, because hers had gotten stolen in Amsterdam. We went in search of a cafe or pub. . .
Some, . . . .ummmm. . . . "enterprising". . . .store owners decided to try removing some of the ice and snow from the walks in front of their shops BY THROWING BUCKETS OF WATER ON IT! You see why I'm shocked by London's reactions to snow? I can understand that given how rare it is to have snow that they wouldn't invest in snow shovels or plows, etc., but there's this basic science thing about water and temperature that seems like common sense.
But who am I to talk about "common sense" as you'll see tomorrow when I tell you about my mistake at the cafe for lunch. involving my searching for an ATM, getting yelled at by the guards at Parliament, being hit by a snowball, and being on the verge of tears.