Subtitle: The Brits Aren't What They Used to Be.
More of Journal for Monday, Feb 2, London
Important travel tip: Really be very, very careful to check the menu in a foreign country before ordering food to see if credit cards are accepted. I didn't.
We went into a cafe after Westminster Abbey, and were eager to get warm, and eat. I ordered the infamous fish and chips. And then had this terrible realization that I hadn't checked whether credit is accepted. . . and it wasn't. And I hadn't gotten any British pounds yet. (A British pound, by the way, is worth about 1 1/2 US dollar.)
The proprietor was NOT amused. He told me there was an ATM just across the street, kiddie corner. I told Dianna, Brian and Emily I'd be right back (and they, knowing my wretched sense of direction, probably had about the same thoughts that I did.)
I headed across the street, and there was certainly not any ATM machine across the street.
I circled around the block, feeling increasingly anxious about this, and then approached a guard by the Parliament building. (Not this fancy-dressed one, one of the few, by the way, who was willing to brave the snow, but a regular, police officer-looking guard.)
And the guard yelled at me, telling me I was not allowed to stand in the driveway and talk to him. So I stood on the curb, and asked about an ATM machine. He pointed me to go about 3 blocks down the road. I know me, and I know if I headed 3 blocks away, I'd never find my way back, and explained the person in the restaurant said there was one right near here.
He then sent me in the opposite direction, into the Tube station, which was accessible even though the trains still weren't running. So off I went, and then was barraged with snowballs! Apparently, Londoners, being new to snowballs, have not perfected their aim, and although the rascals were apologetic, I was not feeling amused. Because, truthfully, I knew I still had to manage the ATM machine.
And here, I admit something truly pathetic. I've only used an ATM machine once in the last 10 years. . . once, as in last week, and that involved a phone call to the bank to be walked through the process. And yes, I needed to ask a Tube agent what the blinking light meant on the ATM machine, and had to rotate my card in all possible directions, try to push it in all possible machine crevices, before the magic of money (strange looking British pound money) gave me hope that I could bail out my kids from the fish-and-chips guy.
My kids may be grown-ups (sort of), but they were looking greatly relieved that I finally showed up. I like to think it was because they were worried about me, but they might have been more worried that they were going to have to do dishes, or would end up in a British gallows.
And then! Oh, joy of joy, wonder of wonders! The portrait museum had opened, for a few hours, and only a few galleries, but it was wonderful. At first I was disappointed that the photos didn't have f stops, shutter speeds, and other details posted, but then began to appreciate that it was a museum of portraits, with the emphasis on how a person was represented and portrayed, with much attention to their personality and life stories. It was wonderful! This was one of my favorite parts of London!
Once the portrait museum closed, we tried the British Museum again, and although they had opened for a few hours, were closing early. And one staff person rather enthusiastically told us that they were probably not going to be opened the next day, either, because of the "blizzard." Look at the picture above. Does that look like a blizzard to you? It was already melting!
Next, we tried our luck at the Dicken's museum, but this was also closed. So Brian and I headed off the grocery store, and I have to tell you, that boy just doesn't believe in chocolate and junk food enough! The more I put in my cart, the more he took out! I raised him wrong. . . .
. . .ecause we needed chocolate and wine. . . And headed back to the hotel room to share our goodies with Dianna and Emily.
Here's Brian trying to have a heated discussion with the BBC announcers about how this weenie amount of snow did not constitute a weather disaster, did they really think it was necessary to be talking about using helicopters to rescue people, and above all, why, oh why, did they cancel the soccer game the next night?
I don't play soccer (duh!), but aren't you suppose to be kind of rugged to play? They cancelled the game for which Brian had tickets because of the snow. Do soccer games usually get cancelled if it's rained the day before? Some of you who know about soccer may sway me from my mockery here. And the only way Brian could get his nearly $100 back was to write them a physical letter.
They also cancelled all the theatre plays. This was still Monday, and we were getting really worried about the Rock Legends Music Tour we had scheduled for Wednesday, and getting to see Wicked at the Apollo on Thursday.
I still think my personal favorite were the "tutorials" run on the BBC showing people how to scrape snow from their windshields.