Tales from the Butcher ShopNo doubt you've heard the sad tale about the butcher who backed into the meat grinder and got a little behind in his work. Well, dear reader, that's exactly what's happened to us with this blog. Sightseeing and socializing and just generally enjoying ourselves take up so much of our time day to day that we just run out of steam before we can get any blogging done.
So in an effort to play a bit of catch up, we're going to throw up a few photos for each day with a general summary of what we did that day. After we return home and the dust settles, we'll try to flesh out the whole story.
Day 6 - Wednesday, October 9 (London)
We slept in bit after going to the theater the night before. Then we hopped the train to Westminster and visited the Churchill War Rooms museum, which preserves the wartime underground bunker that sheltered Winston Churchill and his cabinet during the Blitz and other crises of World War II.
|Everything is authentic except the men-equins.|
Day 7 - Thursday, October 10 (London)
This morning we took a commuter train from Waterloo station and traveled 12 miles southwest of London to visit Hampton Court Palace, thanks to a recommendation from our brilliant cousin Pamela. Originally built in 1514, the palace underwent numerous major expansion and improvement programs, the first begun by King Henry VIII in 1529. The palace has not been inhabited by the British royal family since the 18th century.
|Hampton Court Palace|
|One of numerous portraits of Henry VIII|
|Queen Elizabeth I interacts with some of her subjects|
|Sir Walter Raleigh pleads with his paramour to keep their child's existence secret.|
After spending most of the day exploring the palace, we finally left around 4:00, but not before trying our luck at the famous Hampton Court Maze. Planted in the mid 1600s, the maze covers a third of an acre and includes a half a mile of paths. With Ken as our leader, we made it to the center in no time.
|Even the light rain that had begun to fall couldn't keep us from trying the maze.|
Before leaving the grounds, we located a letterbox, Jeanne's first box outside the U.S. Unfortunately, none of us had brought our boxing gear so we just winged it with drawings of our stamps. As we were walking back to the train station, we noticed the sidewalk was littered with what we later learned were horse chestnuts, also known as buckeyes. We picked up a couple for good luck.
Near the train station we finally had "lunch" at Mada Deli before our return trip to London and our apartment.
|Stained glass window in the Great Watching Chamber at Hampton Court|
Day 8 - Friday, October 11 (London)
Our last full day in London began with a visit to the Tower of London, a historic castle compound on the banks of the Thames River in central London. The original construction was completed in 1066 as part of the Norman conquest of England. Though it rained much of the day, we kept calm and carried on in the British spirit.
|What's a little rain when you have a colorful umbrella?|
By contrast, the guy posted to guard the Crown Jewels had quite a different demeanor. Standing ramrod straight and still in his little guardhouse, the soldier never showed any facial expression, but we never doubted that he was alert and would use his weapon if someone came running out with some of the jewels.
|Imperial State Crown (photo from royalcollection.org)|
|A $6,000 pair of Christian Louboutin shoes—extravagant consumption at its worst|
Day 9 - Saturday, October 12 (London to Venice)
Though we thoroughly enjoyed our time in London, we were all amazed that the week had passed so quickly. This morning we packed up and took a few photos of the apartment so we would remember this little spot that was our home for a week.
|Our little living room (photo from onefinestay.com)|
|Jeanne preps for Italy|
After an uneventful flight, we arrived in Venice only a few minutes late and encountered a couple of surly Italians—the ticket agent for the water transportation service and the bus driver who would take us to the city from the airport, neither of whom seemed to want to deal with tourists. (Uh, not a good career choice, guys!) When we arrived at Piazzale Roma from the airport and Jeanne got her first look at this beautiful city, all unpleasantness was forgotten. By the time we checked in to our apartment, it was almost dark. We walked to a nearby bancomat (ATM) for some Euros and to the local Billa grocery store for supplies, and we began the second part of our trip marveling at the scenic wonders of the magical city of Venice.
|Arrived in Venice and can't believe my eyes|
(picked up from rules of Henry VIII's time posted at Hampton Court Palace)
"Don't shift your buttocks left and right as if to let off some blast. Sit neatly and still."