“We should have gotten the suite.”
“This is the suite,” my wife said. “See, it’s got a queen-size bed.”
Our first morning in London – after a ten-and-a-half-hour flight and eight-hour time change -- we woke up in a “quaint” hotel room designed by the same person, I think, who designs economy class airline seating.
“Do you suppose the Queen sleeps in a queen-size bed?”
“Gee, I don’t know. Maybe if we run into her you can ask.”
“Good idea. She’ll be really impressed I’m with the California press. Probably want to buy one of my books.”
I started thinking about inscriptions. “To Queen E from Big E. May you laugh your crown off.” Nice. I wrote it down so I’d be ready.
Then we went downstairs for our first traditional English breakfast – one fried egg, an odd-shaped piece of bacon, a hash brown potato the size of a matchbook, some baked beans, a tomato and a mushroom.
“Must be shopping day. We got all the leftovers.” The server gave me an odd look. “I mean fantastic. Really. Brilliant, actually.”
After breakfast we walked to Marble Arch, which is an arch made out of marble, and boarded The Original Tour double-decker bus. We drove by many famous places including Westminster Abby, Parliament and Big Ben, which we were told refers to the bell not the clock. Our guide told us all about London. Turns out it’s very old.
We got off our bus near Trafalgar Square and caught a different “Original” bus (how can you have more than one original bus?) to get to Buckingham Palace in time for the “changing of the guard.” They change the guard every other day, which is more often than most guys change their underwear.
As we were running through Green Park I asked my wife: “Do you think I should give the Queen my book right away or let the suspense build?”
“The Queen isn’t at Buckingham Palace today. I understand she’s at Windsor.”
Dang. I knew I should have emailed her before we left.
The changing of the guard is a popular event, as evidenced by the ten million or so people there. Hint: Get there early. You need to be up against the fence for the best photos, though you do end up with wrought iron lines on your face from the pulsating crowd.
After Buckingham we got back on yet another “Original” bus and went to the Tower of London, which is not really a tower like Big-Ben-the-Bell-Not-the-Clock, but a castle built in 1066 by William the Conqueror. Many famous beheaded people are buried there, including Anne Boleyn.
Speaking of Henry the VIII, they had an entire display of his armor and weapons. Most containing a somewhat optimistic codpiece, I thought. Maybe Anne Boleyn jokingly suggested that also – once.
The Tower of London also contains the Royal Family jewels, which were quite nice if you like precious stones the size of Rhode Island.
We had lunch at a pub near the Tower called the Hung Drawn & Quartered. I got the fish & chips. My wife got a cottage pie, which contained minced meat. I prefer not to get mystery meat at a place called the Hung, Drawn and Quartered.
After several ales, we went for a quick boat ride on the Thames and raced to catch the last “Original” bus of the day. Let me explain about the Thames. In order to cross it you have to go over a bridge, the most famous of which is London Bridge, which is not the one with the towers -- that’s Tower Bridge. There are also a bunch of other bridges, including a walking bridge they still refer to as “the big Wiggly Wobbly,” because when they first opened it half of London wanted to try it out and it wiggled and wobbled. I love that!
Seems like we went over every bridge both ways at least twice, then as darkness descended, the bus dropped us at Victoria Station, where we caught “The Tube” back to our quaint room and retired for the evening.
“If we don’t bump into the Queen, I may have to give my book to one of the Princes to deliver.”
“Right,” my wife said.
Then we drifted off to sleep, mushrooms and tomatoes from tomorrow’s English breakfast dancing in our heads.