Note: This Blogspot update is an excerpt from the March 2, 2011 entry of my "London with Bo" travelogue (Part 1 was a mobile upload from New York on February 28). My dad and I made a quick trip to London, prior to last month's Royal Wedding.
Despite leaving my house on Sunday, Bo and I were only beginning my second (and final) full day in London on Wednesday. We grabbed a quick bite at Victoria Station before beginning our promotional “bonus day” on the open-bus Original Tour.
Our first hop-off stop was Baker Street, home of the fictional Sherlock Holmes, which was my personal highlight.
Here is the backstory:
In Switzerland a few years back, Kathy and I got caught in a severe storm while backpacking through the Swiss Alps. We came down out of the mountains and checked into a youth hostel in the village of Meringen. My research turned up that Meringen’s foothills housed Reichenback Falls, the setting of the fall to the death(at least, until his much later resurrection) of fictional character Sherlock Holmes at the hands of his nemesis, Dr. Moriarty. I have had a casual fascination with Sherlock Holmes lore since backpacking up past those falls that day. (As I find time, I will search my archives for photos from our adventures in Switzerland to post to www.garthhamilton.blogspot.com).
The modern day Sherlock Holmes museum is located is located at 221b Baker Street NW in London, the street address of the legendary fictional sleuth. Bo and I made a somewhat brief visit to discover a painting depicting Sherlock Holmes’ “death” at Reichenbach Falls in memory of my Switzerland trip.
The cashier girl’s eyes widened as I shared my Swiss Alps story (see above) with her while purchasing the painting. I also picked up a pocket sized edition of the corresponding story. Admittedly, I am already reading “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” using the Kindle app on my HTC Hero phone (to be replaced next week by an HTC Evo 4G). However, scrolling through an e-book will never compare to holding an actual hard copy, IMHO.
Our next stop was the picturesque Trafalgar Square. We witnessed a Trafalgar street performer draw an audience before getting busted by the London Police for his unauthorized performance. He defiantly completed his final act before the cops shut him down, to the cheers of the enthusiastic crowd.
Down the hill from Trafalgar Square, our attempt to view the Prime Minister’s mansion on Downing Street was thwarted by heavily armed guards.
Walking a bit further, we reached Big Ben and Parliament, two of the most recognizable structures in England. The queue for neighboring Westminster Abbey (my 2nd favorite site in all of Europe so far, after the Vatican Museum in Rome) was too long and slow moving for our fast paced itinerary, most likely due to next month’s royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Leaving Westminster Abbey, we crossed Westminster Bridge to walk the docks under the iconic London Eye.
A river cruise ship picked us up from the docks and floated us up the River Thames, past Shakespeare’s Globe Theater.
After ducking under the London Bridge, the cruise ship dropped us off at the Tower of London for our last daylight stop.
We took the scenic route to barely catch the final hop-on tour bus of the evening.
Magical views of the city at night (not done any justice by my blurry photos) greeted us around every corner, and our hearty evening meal was a fitting end to our father/son time together in London.
Bo turned in early at the Cherry Court Hotel. I set out later that evening for the Queen’s Arm, a local haunt, to enjoy some fascinating conversations with some Londoners regarding literature, politics, and culture.
HOMEWARD BOUND: Thankfully, returning home to Portland on Thursday went smoothly. The Gatwick express train sped us from Victoria Station to the LGW airport, roughly 20-30 miles outside of London. I’ll spare the gloatful details of flying over the Big Pond in Business Elite cabin, except to mention that the food was delicious, the two in-flight movies I watched were suspenseful, and the flight attendants were exceptionally hospitable. Bo and I were then seated next to each other on the final Atlanta to Portland flight.
My mom picked us up from PDX on Thursday night, graciously allowing me to crash at their house in Vancouver, WA. She then drove me back to PDX the next morning for my marathon 5 a.m. - 1:15 a.m. shift at Delta.
If this sounds like an exhausting way to end a vacation and begin a work week, it was. But I thank the Lord that I was able to spend this time with my dad, and grateful that I was able to squeeze in one more trip to London before the Royal Wedding.