First Day in London

The vacation actually started the weekend before with a visit to New Jersey’s coastal den of iniquity – Atlantic City. For once Lady Luck was on our side and the spouse won some shopping money at Blackjack for the upcoming trip to London and Paris.

So we whiled away an intervening week of drudgery and anticipated excitement for the upcoming trip until we left home on Friday to take the Virgin Atlantic flight to London. The lines at the airport were huge, even though we had given ourselves two hours checking in time. It was really crawling until an airline employee who was attaching tags to all the carry on luggage made us an offer we couldn’t resist. He told us that the flight had been oversold and that they were looking for volunteers to fly the next morning and in return receive round trip tickets to anywhere in the world. If Virgin Atlantic flew there we could go there. We immediately thought Australia but almost as soon as the thought crossed our heads the guy said, ‘…except Sydney, Australia.” We were crestfallen, but for a second, there was a world of exploration at our feet.

Virgin Atlantic paid for a hotel and dinner in beautiful downtown Newark, NJ. And we took the shuttle to the airport early the next morning ready to fly to London. The flight was quite uneventful except for a bout with extreme nausea with which Anil and Anoushka had battled for the two days prior. I had thought I escaped. But it caught up with me in the worst place possible, barely missing the aisle of the plane. Otherwise we had a good flight and reached Heathrow in time. For the first time in my life I got to our hotel or final destination via public transportation. The Heathrow Express got us from the airport to the London station of Paddington in a smooth forty minute ride. The train station led straight to the hotel lobby.

The night and a good part of the morning was spent resting and recuperating and we finally ventured out by 2:00 PM. We hopped on to the Big Red City Bus that gave us a good overall view of the City peppered with a commentary on the points of interest and the history. We followed it up with a City Cruise which was also fun. The captain of the ship provided a running commentary about the points of interest. He was an embodiment of British humor. We even tried to line up for the Tower of London but the lines were huge. It was 4:00 PM and we were nowhere near the end of it. Someone told us it closed at 5:30 PM so we postponed our quest for the crown jewels that day. Thought we would do it another day.

A point to note was how misplaced the moniker “ugly American” is. Americans are overall more sensitive and considerate to little children. Anoushka had to deal with several impatient and angry British “Excuse Mes” when she took her time on escalators and stairs. She never experiences that with Americans. I suppose kids are faster on stairs here!

It’s hard to leave the hotel room when you are traveling with a four year old fashionista. She takes her time in a luxurious bubble bath, changes clothes a million times until finding the absolutely perfect stylistically satisfactory combination. Then it is all about matching accessories. So despite best intentions it is 12:15 PM again. The sun is beating down and like mad dogs and Englishmen we’ll now venture out and see what we can see today.

2 Comments

  1. Having fun, are we :-)? Goodie!

  2. Pragya,Excellent. I will go through the entire account soon, when I get time from this stupid work!Great work! Nice pictures too!J


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