6/10 Tuesday Day Eight
Up at 7. Breakfast. Latte at Love In a Cup since I haven’t been there yet. We leave tomorrow, and I don’t know that I will have another opportunity. Very narrow place. The guy is Australian and very friendly, asks where I am from, where he should vacation in Florida (Miami, but I should have mentioned St. Petersburg and Tampa also now that I think about it). I ask for an OJ and a latte. He asks if I am feeling adventurous and tell him that I am so I get a latte with some orange peel in it that gives it a very delightful orange taste.
Tower of London. One had to be rich to be executed in the Tower of London. It was a combination zoo and prison. A polar bear was once kept there and someone took it to the Thames every morning so that it could fish in the river. We go to the Crown Jewels, which are impressive and see the coronation chair. Then we go to a large central building with lots of weapons, and suits of armor, and such. Nothing for lunch until 12 or else it’s breakfast. I check 4 or 5 places. End up with an iced latte and sausage biscuit at Starbucks as this is the only option I can find.
On to the London Eye. This is lots of fun and has some great views. We get on in two groups. They search under the central bench with mirrors on poles after we leave. I go in the gift shop and get some sort of guide for two pounds.
We go to a central spot near the three squares. I try to find Tea Palace and succeed but it has moved since we were last in the area. I find a bug of some sort is sitting on my arm, so I walk a bit and relocate it on a tree. I decide to sit and go in the Port House. Listening to a Spanish version of “My Way.” 3:47. I am the only customer in here. All the songs are Spanish and a lot of them, perhaps all, are cover versions.
From a distance, we see the Shard. I tell Serge that I read it was evacuated a couple of days ago because of mysterious smoke, the source of which was never found, and two weeks ago lightning hit it. Serge says a fox was living on the 38th floor. Also, it was snowing on the top, but nowhere else in London. Pass through St. Paul’s Churchyard.
Dinner at the Old London. Fries and two chicken pieces (not on the bone) that are not bad.
After dinner, the Jack the Ripper Tour (most popular tour in London). I enjoy it. I think it’s interesting and I like thinking about the possible identity and motivation of Jack the Ripper, but others find the content too gruesome. We are in two groups and Lawrence is our guide. We see some of the murder sites and locations. Spitalfields. We end across from the Ten Bells where one of the victims had her last drink.
We go back. I decide to try to find the Thai restaurant everyone has told me about. I can’t find it so I go with Qasida for Tavuk Sis which is basically a chicken fajita. It takes a while and I think they forget about me. They offer me some Turkish tea “a good one,” “get him a good one,” “make sure it’s a good one.” Ask me if I had a large or small. I say small. He offers me a salad, but I say no (I should have asked for bread and I should have ordered the rice pudding). Sauce? Yes. Tomato or garlic? Garlic. I’m not really sure what exactly I have gotten. I take it back to the room. It’s a little messy but tastes absolutely great, favorite thing I ate on the entire trip.
Shower. Pack. Write.
6/11 Wednesday Day Nine
Up at 5:30. Leave 6:25. I set off security by forgetting to take change out of my left pocket. “Anything sharp on you?” “Just my intellect,” I say, channeling Oscar Wilde who, when asked if he had anything to declare, said, “nothing but my genius.” Comptoir Libanais for a cheese omelet and latte. Jamie and I look in the duty free store. Get on the plane.
We are in the back and there is lots of turbulence close to Orlando. In fact, the airport is closed for weather, but is reopened by the time we arrive. Glad to arrive and get off.
Get off. Passport control doesn’t give me any problem. There is one more checkpoint and the guy asks me if I have any tobacco or alcohol. I say no, he waves me through, and that is that. Get my luggage, and my wife is there to pick me up.
The days really zipped by. It is good to have some downtime in the pre-tour mornings and post-tour evening, but I find myself happy to see everyone the next day and eager to get back with the group. By the final day, however, everyone is ready to get back and very much in their own zone.
Samuel Johnson said, “when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” I am tired of neither London, nor life, but I am tired. It’s to be expected; no matter how hungry you are and how good the food is eventually you have your fill and are ready to leave the table. And, of course, you know it will only be a matter of time before you are hungry again.