Man! It's been an intense week. I'll tell you all about it as we go, but I'm going to break it up into a few small doses.
First dose: London.
Saturday (5/17), I boarded a flight at O'Hare around 6pm. (Kudos to my buddies Matt and Virginia for taking me to the airport. Big ups.) I took a little valerian root (Merz Apothecary recommended it. It was a big help. Better than narcotics or hormones.), ignored the terrible movies they were showing (Oh boy! 27 Dresses AND National Treasure: Book of Secrets! Followed by The Golden Compass?!?!?!?! Is this a flight to LONDON or HEAVEN!?!?!?) and spent most of the flight either sleeping, reading, or talking to my awesome seat-neighbor. (Part-owner of a Sri Lankan tea plantation. I want that job.)
I arrived in London the next morning. (The local clocks said 9am. It was still 3am in Chicago, but getting a little sleep convinced me that I had time traveled.) My buddy Liam gets the award for awesomeness for meeting me at Heathrow. We took the train into Paddington, and then hopped a double-decker for the ride to his place over by Canary Wharf. That took us right through the thick of things. Not the quickest route, but certainly the coolest.
We grabbed some Carlsbergs and made our way through the super-modern bank complex that is Canary Wharf. (Watch 28 Weeks Later. That's it. Isle of Dogs.) Liam lives right by the O2 Dome and the Reuters Building (which was the CIA hq in 0ne of the Bourne movies).
Here's Liam in front of the building where he works.
And a shot of me with the O2 Dome in the background:
We hopped on a boat and made our way up the Thames to Embankment. Along the way we spotted the Traitors Gate at the Tower of London:
Tower Bridge, of course:
And some more modern bits and pieces of London:
After getting off the boat, we puttered around town. We hit Trafalgar Square (the first pic in this post), Covent Garden, Chinatown (below), SoHo, Five Points, etc. We popped up to Harrod's. We went all over.
We made our way up to Camden to check out an area with a different feel. We walked through the crazy market stalls and into the all-too-hip stores, surprised that people still buy rave clothes. Who goes to raves? It's right by a really pretty section of canal, though.
There's a cool set of manual locks right on the canal. I was too close to get a good picture, but these houseboats will motor right up to the locks and a dude from the boat will hop out (drinking a beer) and begin the process of opening the locks for an incoming boat. There's no one on duty. No control booth. I have a feeling that wouldn't fly in the States.
We had a few pints in Camden and hopped the tube back to Liam's. We had some grub (frozen pizzas, boyee!) and hit the sack. I had to grab a taxi for Liverpool Station, then a train to Stansted Airport, and a plane for Nice very early the next morning. (Cab left at 4am. Yowza.) I made it, though. London was very good. It was even a nice day for us. A tad cloudy, but really warm. Thanks, London.
Next stop: Nice.