After a great time in Brooklyn (Thanks again Marc!) MJ and I met up and hopped on our plane to get to our full day layover in England. It was a 6 hour flight that left NYC at 7:30pm and got us in to London
at 6am. We flew on Virgin Atlantic and got to enjoy some decent food and a good selection of movies (I finally caught the movie "Invictus", which seemed relevant) I didn't sleep much at all on the flight which eventually caught up with me. We left Heathrow on the tube so we could spend the day in the city rather than at the airport. The whole place was so damn British - it made me laugh every time the polite ladies voice came over the loudspeaker to let us know that we were riding the "Picadillly" train out to "Cockfosters".
We went down to the Westminster area because it has the highest concentration of stuff to see. To my surprise, when you walk out of the northeast exit of the Westminster subway station, your nose almost hits Big Ben. The clock tower is literally mere feet in front of you, and if I didn't look up I would not have known what the wall in front of me formed. We walked around and say the Parliament building, Westminster Abbey, the London Eye Ferris Wheel, some park along the river where they had crappy street performers (such as an Elvis impersonator who only knew the chorus to the Elvis songs he was singing) and some other park/garden type places that I did not know the significance of. We took off for Buckingham Palace, still a short walk from the Westminster area and stumbled upon an enormous gathering.
The big changing of the guard ceremony was going on just as we made it to the palace, so we got to see the big furry hat guys in red marching along and acting all stoic. It was obscenely crowded, but the weather was holding up so it was some pretty cool accidental timing.
The only goal I had for England was to get to some semblance of a normal (not touristy) pub and get a pint and some of that fine British Food I hear about. We got back on the subway and rode up to Notting Hill/Portabella Street and found a place that seemed to somewhat fit the Bill. At this point, the lack of sleep was starting to haunt me, but we still had hours to kill before check-in even began, so I set myself to do some shopping and eating until a few more hours had passed.
There was some sort of large flee market going on, and there were lots of antique shops with some cool things, but given the exchange rate there was nothing approaching a good deal to be found. I did see a few old school soccer track jackets that looked cool, and a lot of interesting metal wares, but nothing work picking up. We settled in to this bar on the main drag that had something going on but wasn't insanely crowded. The pint was of course fantastic, and the fish and chips was about as good as fish and chips can be, which is "pretty good". While waiting for the food, I almost passed out at the table a few times, which MJ thought was creepy, because my eyes would roll up into the back of my head and she would have to shout my name so that I wouldn't face-plant on the surface. We made it back to the airport and prepared for our second (well, my second, her third) night to be spent in a sitting position. Our flight left England at 8pm and we arrived in Nairobi at 6:50am.