Yesterday and today were great days. This is a long post, so grab a drink (coffee, water, etc), sit down, and ready yourself.
Yesterday (20 August).
We met Nigel and his parents at the Central Criminal Court of London, better known as the Old Bailey. We observed closing arguments of a criminal trial. Manslaughter was the first charge and the second was a lesser crime, but I can’t recall exactly what it was. Very interesting case. Based on what we heard, five teens taunted and threw stone stones at a man, who then died. The deceased had heart trouble, including heart surgery in 1977.
Beth and Nigel’s mom shopped while the boys saw the legal action.
Beth finally found and bought a pair of jeans. The weather’s been nippy and her legs were cold.
Street sign at Her Majesty's Theatre.
After the trial, we found a quaint deli/restaurant and had a traditional English breakfast for lunch. We even sampled black pudding.
We parted ways with Nigel and his parents after lunch. Beth and I then went to St. Paul’s Cathedral. On the way to the cathedral, we stopped at a sporting goods store and I bought a light jacket (it’s cool and wet and I didn’t even think about bring any kind of coat—IT’S AUGUST!). Beth ended up buying some trainers (aka sneakers) to protect her feet (she was wearing sandals).
Anyhow, after St.
Paul’s, we made our way to the Victoria and Albert Museum. Not bad. Like many other museums, it has some truly beautiful pieces of art. We weren’t at the museum long because we had to head back to the hotel to prepare for the show.
View of Parliament and Big Ben from The Eye.
The highlight of the day—as far as Randy’s concerned—was seeing Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre. We had a pre-show bottle of Valpolicello cabernet at an Italian restaurant across the street from the museum (Galileo’s Tuscan). The show itself was nothing short of fantastic. Truly a wonderful performance by the entire cast, especially the actress who played Christine. This gal is so tiny but has such a strong voice. Afterwards, we had dinner, including a bottle of Xumec Malbec from the Tulum Valley and the beef sampler at Gaucho’s, an Argentine steakhouse - great food and wine and the atmosphere was great too, with cow hide furniture and a chandeliered ceiling.
This dinner had so many reminders of our honeymoon in Mexico, when we ate at our first Argentine steakhouse and swam at Tulum. At Gaucho’s, like the beef, all of the wine is from Argentina.
Today (21 August).
Today’s the day we did the heavy touristy stuff, after another English breakfast (egg, chips, and bacon—which, over here, is different from bacon in the States; it’s much more meatier, kinda like ham).
We started by hopping on one of the double-decker tour buses. Cheesy? Yes, but we saw so much of the city as we rode around on top of this bus. It was cold and damp (some mist and drizzle every now and then), but we enjoyed ourselves.
We also took a river cruise of the Thames River from The Tower to Westminster. We then took flight on The London Eye. Built in 2000, The London Eye is a 135 meter (443 feet) wide ferris wheel that has capsules that people stand/sit in to enjoy marvelous views of the city. Imagine being able to overlook Big Ben, Parliament, Buckingham Palace and St. Paul’s cathedral all in one view! Amazing. After The Eye, we hopped back on the tour bus and eventually made our way to Harrod’s, where we did some window shopping and ate a late lunch of tappas. Beth also found some Indian spices in the grocery market located in the ground floor of Harrod’s that she has not been able to find at home (yes, that’s right, Harrod’s does have a grocery store in the lower level).
Inscription on the Old Bailey.
After Harrod’s, we delved into the Underground and emerged at Leicester Square. Here we stopped into several used book stores and Randy bought an old book about lawyers written in the 1930s. We also ventured over to Carnaby Street for more window shopping. This part of the city is pedestrian only and has many shops and pubs. Before heading back to the underground, we went to Hamley’s, London’s version of FAO Schwartz (only not as nice)`. Although, they did have a nice Paddington Bear selection and a 20 ft tall giraffe you can put in your home for $7,000.
After a day of sight-seeing and shopping, we were starving. So, we found a little Indian place a couple of blocks from our hotel. This was Randy’s first experience with Indian food and he loved it, which makes Beth very happy because she’s been trying to get him to eat Indian food for years.
London has been good to us and we can’t wait to come back. But, we’re anxious to see Paris, and that’s where we’re off to tomorrow morning!