Saturday, September 02, 2006

Day 5: Thursday, August 10 (London)

That's right, we were smack-dab in the middle of a foiled terrorist plot. It was definitely a surreal and scary experience and the British tabloids wasted no time in publishing headlines like: "Hey Terrorists: UP YOURS." I imagine the police from the night before were probably at the Tube station to arrest someone, because by the time the story broke there were several people already in custody.

But we had pre-paid tickets, so we made our way on the big, red bus....

And took off for Windsor Castle, the private residence and vacation spot to the Queen (who was currently on vacation somewhere else).

I wasn't expecting to be that into the castle, mostly because I think the royals are a bit ridiculous, but it was very interesting and historically educational.

We saw the silly ritual of the Changing of the Guards....

Walked the grounds and toured the chapel....

And after surrendering all of our 'hand luggage' toured the State Apartments, which were impressive and ostentatious (and included a dollhouse replica of the Queen's residence, down to the china and paintings on the walls).

We continued on to the town of Bath and the ancient roman baths. The town of Bath itself was much larger than I had expected and, while certainly on the touristy side, was very lovely and quaint.

The baths themselves were incredibly intriguing and we saw roman artifacts, mosaics, temples, and the actual mouth of the spring (the still waters continue to bubble from the underground gases).

Before heading back to the city, we stopped at Stonehenge, a place I have been mildly obsessed with since childhood (when my mom convinced me the stones were put there by aliens). Well, according to my audio-guide, it was most certainly NOT the work of aliens, but rather a way for an ancient civilization to measure the seasons and tell time. It was freezing cold and smaller than I had imagined, but very surreal to be in a place I had only seen in pictures (and in my nightmares--thanks mom).

Back in London we went to a pub just down the street from our hotel called the Marquis de Westminster and proceeded to eat bangers and mash and get nice and drunk on beer and Pimm's (a delightful cocktail with Pimm's liquor, lemonade, cucumbers, strawberries, oranges, lemon and mint--think mojito, but better). We planned to hit up the duty free for a Pimm's stash on the way home, but the 'no liquids' rule kind of ruined that idea. Good thing they sell duty free on the airplane and we were able to pick up a few bottles after all.

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