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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Day 6 of 35 - We Are on the Queen Mary to Norway

We had a nice train ride from London to Southampton. We boarded the Queen Mary 2. This is the port where the Titannic left for America. 

The ship is very nice. We carried our stuff to our room 6085. We had a quick lunch and now will explore the boat. 

The crow is old. There are very few kids. The ship is more staid than other ships we traveled on. This was designed for Atlantic crossings although it does other types of trip. It had just sailed in from New York City. It is a long slow trip with no stops. Someone on that trip said it was pretty boring and lots of cold and fog. Since we just finished a hot humid month in Florida - we hope we like the change. 

The ship's internet is suspect. The service seems slow and expensive. I have gave to wait until ports to post stuff.

ADDED NOTE LATER - I did splurge and buy the internet package - one device connection for 7 days - $168. We use our MacBook laptop. It is very fast - we can watch our TV from back home crystal clear - Netflix - Comcast - CNN - even our saved stuff on our DVR. The speed is about 40 gbps download. 5 gbps uploads. Nice. 

Saturday, July 13, 2024

Day 5 of 35 - London - Saturday Matinee - Sister Act

By Saturday we seemed adjusted to the time zone. We went to bed last night at 11 pm - and got up at 8 am. We had a nice little breakfast at a little cafe next to our hotel. Then we took the subway to Tottenham Court Road. This is the area where FSU campus is - along the red subway line. The box office opened at noon. I was able to get 2 nice seats in Row K - center stage. I like to be closer but this play was nearly sold out in a very big theatre. Our seats were 29 pounds. The play was good - but not my cup of tea. The singers were good - but there was not much dancing and acting. Since most of the characters are dressed like nuns - it was very bland - not much skin. I like seeing young ladies dance in costumes that accent their figures. 

After the show - we stopped for some groceries - and headed back to our room. 

Sunday - we must take a train to Southampton - and catch the Queen Mary 2 - for a trip to Norway. The ship is the last of the great ocean cruisers - designed to knife thru the Atlantic from Southampton to New York. We talked to a couple that just got off it from the America trip. They said it is a stately ship - but when cruising at 45 mph - and when it is cold and foggy - you tend to stay inside. Most of our one week cruise will be in the Norway Fiords. We will travel as north at 61 degrees north latitude. 

We shopped in the stores on Oxford Street - we each bought a pair of stretch blue jeans - an extra pair of long pants cannot hurt on our cruise. 

After the cruise - we head to Paris to see the Everhart 4. We will be there during the Paris Olympics. Our son has been planning for years for this event - he got quite a few tickets for events. 

We planned to go to the Durham Miners Gala Parade today - but bad weather was predicted. Also trains tickets were $250 each for last minute. 450 miles - 3 hours each way. Since we saw the parade twice before - we saved our energy. 

So our next step is Bon Voyaging from the sea Southampton port that the Titanic left for America in 1912. 


Friday, July 12, 2024

Day 4 of 35 - Lulu's 70th - Ted Lasso in Richmond - Eel Pie Island in Twickenham

July 12th - 2024 - Lulu's birthday

It was little cooler today in London - low 60s - but no rain. I just love escorting Lulu in her favorite town on her big day. After a light breakfast in bed - we caught the train to Richmond - about 25 miles away. Lulu loves watching British TV shows - and Ted Lasso is high on her list. It is about an American coach that is imported to run a soccer team - The Richmond Greyhounds. They film some of it in downtown Richmond. 

We stopped at a place on the street for lunch. When I went to pay - the owner said they only take cash. I did not have enough - but I had lots of USA money. A local guy came inside and tried to pay for our lunch.  The bill was 30 pounds - about $40. I would not consider it - I said I would go to an ATM machine. Then I said I have American dollars. I gave the owner $40 - he came to my table and slipped me a $10 bill. The couple that tried to pay - ended up being from Ireland - they were in town for their oldest son's wedding. We had a great conversation - as I said before - we meet so many nice folks traveling. 

Our next stop was Eel Pie Island. It was 1.3 miles away. We walked to Twikenham. There a a museum there - in a community building. We were greeted at the locked door by a lovely lady who insists on giving us a VIP tour. 

Eel Pie Island is a small island in the middle of the Thames River. The river is much narrower here than in London. The only way on the island is a foot bridge. In the old days - from 1900 to 1960 - there was a big old resort hotel there. It turned into a destination for jazz music. They added a giant ballroom to the hotel - something like Lakeside or the Lakewood Ballroom. The dance hall had a spring loaded wooden floor - similar to a trampoline. When the place was literally rocking with music and dinners - the building would vibrate. 

It started out with jazz music. Next came blues music. After that Skiffle - a cross between folk and blues. This was an oven where rock and roll was baked in London. In the summer of 1964 - The Rolling Stones played every Wednesday - Blues Night. The Who played there. Rod Stewart. Eventually the island became a commune. Soon there were more cops in wigs than kids trying to bust them for drinking and drugs. 

Finally in 1968 - the hotel burned to the ground. Some say the cops set it on fire - some say the owner had lightning strike it for the insurance money - and to build exclusive condos. Today they are a few upscale places there with a bohemian air to them. There are boat houses and boat repair businesses there - but still only a foot bridge connecting it to reality.  It is a very quiet haven in the middle of the river in the middle of a city. 

A bus and two quick trains - and we were back at our hotel by Hyde Park. We rolled into bed for a short nap. Then we got cleaned up to celebrate the birthday girl with dinner at a nice little Italian Restaurant. After supper we took a walk through Hyde Park as the sunset. We could hear one of Lulu's favorite artists playing the park - Stevie Nix. 

We planned to take the train tomorrow to Durham for the famous Miners' Gala Parade. It is 450 miles north of here. We were there two times before.  but because we did not buy train tickets earlier - they were $250 each - and 3 hours each way. Since we leave London on the Queen Mary 2 on Sunday - we decided to see other things. Being in our 70s now - we have to pace ourselves better. I can really see the difference in Esther Williams legs. 

Eel Pie Inland in Thames River

Richmond Greyhounds

Tess Lasso Clubhouse

Ted Lasso is played by Jason Sedakis

Pub on the town green

Honda Electric - London car of the year - 2021

The old hotel burned down

First it was a jazz club

The Beatles first played Skiffle

Listen to Lonnie Donegan

The kids had to join the club - Eelpiland

This was the trampoline dance floor

Keith Richards played here

Brian Jones wanted to stay playing Blues

Lulu checks out the red coat

Mick Jagger performed with shirt and tie

Eel Pie Island Museum

House on island today

This bridge was only way in

Birthday girl in Hyde Park - 
Kensington Palace where Diane lived.

Queen Victoria in Hyde Park

Thursday, July 11, 2024

Day 3 of 35 - London - Mrs Doubtfire Show


We just finished day 3 of our Euro Trip. You lose track of time. We left Tallahassee on Tuesday. We flew 10 hours and lost 5 hours to the times zones. First day we left home at 7 pm. We got into Atlanta a little late - and then we waited in Atlanta for many passengers. It was nearing midnight - when our jet took off from the world's busiest airport - our goal London Heathrow Airport. We arrived here Wednesday around 1 pm - and our hotel in downtown at 3 pm. 

Wednesday - we got our bearings by walking down along the Thames River. We visited Big Ben and The London Eye big wheel. Weather was sunny - breezy - 70s. We stopped by a local pub for supper and to watch the England vs Netherlands - Euro Cup Soccer Gams. We experienced their last minute 2-1 victory. England is used to losing big important matches. Now they play Sunday for the European Championship against Spain. We will be on Queen Mary 2 during that event. It could be a very sad day over here - I am sure there will be plenty of Brits on board watching. 

We woke up today - Thursday - with lots of energy at about 9 am local time. We took a bus to the Shaftsbury Theatre to get tickets for a play - Mrs Doubtfire. You may recall there was a movie featuring Robin Williams - playing the famous nanny. If you go to the box office on the day of the show - you sometimes score some nice tickets cheap. I was lucky to get 2 tickets in the second row for 27 pounds each. This was 50% off. A pound is worth $1.30 on this trip. The show was at 2:30 pm - so we had time for a light lunch - and some shopping. 

I was surprised at how full the theatre was for a Thursday afternoon show. Mrs Doubtfire is a play about divorce and raising kids. So the theatre was full of women  and kids. I imagine half of them were divorced. There were few men - many kids - there was no profanity. 

Our seats were very good - there was an empty seat next to me - I could stretch out - but seating was tight. The play included a full orchestra - and there was lots of upbeat music to dance to. It was a large cast I thought. 

With jet lag - it goofs up your eating schedule. The less you eat the better it seems. We had supper at a Chinese Restaurant near the theatre. After that we walked Oxford Street all the way back to the John Lewis Store. Lulu's watch said we walked 7 miles. Tomorrow is a very big birthday for my lovely wife. We had little shopping to do. After shopping - Bus 94 took us straight to our hotel on Hyde Park. 

After a really hot June and July in Florida - the 70s and breezes is a welcome relief. 

We have three more nights in this hotel before embarking on the Queen Mary 2 to Norway. 

Tallahassee is 30 degrees north of the equator. Tamaqua PA is 41 degrees north. London is 51 degrees north - thus it gets colder yet. Finally we will reach places in Norway where you are 61 degrees north of the equator. Though we will not approach the North Pole - 90 degrees north - we will be near the Arctic Circle - which is 67 degrees north - the land of the midnight sun. The only other time I was 61 degrees north of the equator was in Anchorage AK. 

After a week exploring Norway - we will fly south to France - to visit family and see the Olympics in Paris. 

A full house saw Mrs Doubtfire

We got second row for half price

I love this old umbrella shop

Bloomsbury Pub - claims
oldest brewery

We walked by the Harry Potter play

London Eye - Wheel is made of wires

Newly renovated Big Ben

Our flight from Tallahassee to London

Ready to land at 1 pm yesterday