Category: TRAVEL (Page 1 of 42)
Home at last after 22-days away and reunited with our schnauzer Tally. The only things we’re missing are my Mickey Mouse hooded sweatshirt and our luggage, still stuck in London. The sweatshirt I left on the plane, while our baggage was reportedly a technical error (human error doesn’t exist anymore). Our driver picked us up from the airport late last night, and we were tired company on the ride home. Without having to unpack, we were quickly asleep.
Both of us were up early this morning, with a bit of jet lag. My wife ran some errands while I went out for a 2-mile run, starting to rebuild my mileage to the daily 5k level that was part of my routine before this trip. I did manage to get at least a mile in every day, but mostly at the minimum. Currently, I’m at just under 50-miles for the month of May instead of the normal 80. It was difficult to get into a routine with early morning bus tours, flights, safety issues, and rough surfaces to negotiate.
Although we are travel weary there will be little time to rest. Tonight, we have tickets for the Wellen Park Luminescence, tomorrow my wife’s girlfriend arrives for a few days, Saturday night is a Venice Symphony concert to honor Memorial Day, and Sunday is my granddaughter’s birthday along with our annual Indy 500 party. The retirement party continues.
Our last day in London proper started with my Hyde Park run, another visit to an ATM, check-out, and a walk to Piccadilly Circus. We had a few hours to kill before our scheduled Rock Tour, tired of wandering through Palaces, Castles, Monuments, Tombs, Temples, Museums, and Churches.
We stumbled across the Savil Row Concurs, a display of high-end cars in the premier fashion district. My wife refrained from shopping and agreed to go to The Hard Rock Café, founded in London. I figured it would be an appropriate start to visiting some of the homes, studios, and haunts of British Rock Stars – the real English royalty as far as I’m concerned. I’ve always been enamored by lets say Freddy Mercury and Queen rather than Queen Elizabeth.
As we waited for the guided tour to start, we sat on the steps by the statue of Frederick, Duke of York 1766-1827. The dome of St. Paul’s loomed in the distance, along with Union flags hanging above the streets from the recent coronation ceremonies. As expected, our long-haired, British tour guide, Ian, showed up late, ala stoner Jeff Spicoli from the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High, in an oversized van. It turned out to be as much a pub tour, seeing where the London superstars of music, Hendrix, Morrison, the Fab Four, Pink Floyd, Clapton, Freddy Mercury, Elton John, Jim Morrison, and Jimmy Page held court. We stopped by the famous Royal Albert Hall where Asa was performing a sound check, visited a tiny record store specializing in vinyl, and drove by the secluded homes and apartments where they lived and some died. Needless to say, we couldn’t see much in passing. A walk across the zebra crosswalk on Abbey Road was a highlight, and well hidden studios where the legends recorded were often identified with round, blue historic plaques.
Dinner was at Baozilnn for dim sum in Chinatown, followed by a bit of a stroll to the Vaudeville Theatre on The Strand next door to where we saw Ain’t Too Proud to Beg when we first arrived in London four days ago. The musical, SIX, was an all female performance by six powerful vocalists and a talented instrumental trio. It was about the six wives of Henry VIII, thinking of Herman’s Hermits’ hit “I’m Henry the 8th I am.” Fortunately, it was short in length, since it was late and we needed to taxi to 47 Park to pick up our luggage and then continued on to Heathrow. As we waited to check-in at the airport Renaissance, a breaking news bulletin announced the death of the Queen of Rock and Roll, Tina Turner at age 83. It truly was a day of Rock and Roll reflection.
I saw The Stones in England this morning! Not the group but rather Stonehenge. The last time I was in London more than 25 years ago, I stopped by for a bite to eat at Sticky Fingers – Bill Wyman’s restaurant in Kensington that closed a few years ago after 32-years in business due to the pandemic. The closest I’ve gotten to rock-and- roll on this trip so far is a drive-by-sighting of the original Hard Rock Café and the musical, “Back to the Future,” featuring Huey Lewis hits. However, The Beatles’ Apple Records headquarters and its Abbey Road famed zebra crosswalk aren’t too far away from our hotel.
Ben Joyce starred as Marty McFly and Cory English as Doc Brown. Jordan Benjamin was also great as Mayor Marvin Berry, with McFly defying the basic rules of time travel by stealing Berry’s “cousin” Chuck’s guitar masterpiece, Johnny B. Goode, before its time. Produced by Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis, who added some high-tech magic with the iconic DeLorean time machine. Back to the Future will eventually be big on Broadway.
The British West End stage production of Ain’t Too Proud to Beg, the story of The Temptations was also outstanding, as we await the third and final theater night, SIX, here in London. We’ll be back home in three short days after getting the opportunity to see ten of the world’s finest and oldest wonders – the Great Pyramid, Petra’s Treasury, The Sphinx, Valley of the Kings, Mount Nebo, Westminster Abbey, The Dead Sea, Luxor Temple, Abu Simbel, and Stonehenge. The Stones today seemed to fit somewhere in the middle of these impressive sightings.
Today is here! After an exhausting night of sleep, I was only motivated to run the Hyde Park minimum mile again today. My wife zonked out early last night, whereas I was up and down countless times with an achy bladder. When I got up for the final time at 6a, there was a lot more activity outside with bicyclists, joggers, and horses on patrol, It was also more difficult to cross the busy street, unlike the Sunday morning quiet.
I once again felt like a bunny rabbit, hopping on and off the double-decker Toot Bus all day long. We covered both the yellow and blue lines on Sunday with photo stops at Buckingham Palace, the Tower Bridge, and Gillray’s at the Marriott for a martini lunch after the cruise down The Thames. I ordered the traditional fish & chips while my wife had dover sole. We also got a top deck view of Piccadilly Circus, not quite as crazy as Saturday night but still active. The Brits use the word “circus” rather than what we know as a circle or roundabout, but to me, it was more like a circus atmosphere with the pub crowds extending out into the sidewalks.
Today, we had some bus issues like a driver who abandoned the wheel to apparently go to the loo, while leaving the engine running for a good fifteen minutes with no explanation to us passengers. We were frustrated because it made us tardy for our 10a Beefeater prepaid tour of the Tower of London. We then spent an hour in line waiting to see the Crown Jewels and lit some candles at the Chapel Royale of St. Peter ad Vincula. It is the burial place of some of the most famous prisoners executed at the Tower, including Queen Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey, Lord Guildford Dudley, and Sir Thomas More.
Next, we hopped on a blue, hopped off to catch a yellow, and hopped off again at Westminster Abbey, walking over the inscribed burial sites in the marble floor of David Livingstone, Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, Thomas Hardy, George Frederick Handel, and Charles Robert Darwin. There was also a memorial dedicated to William Shakespeare. It is also the final resting place of 30 Kings and Queens, but hardly comparable to the Tombs of Egypt.
Tonight, we’ll make the long walk back to Piccadilly Circus and the nearby Theater District to see the highly acclaimed musical, Back to the Future, at The Adelphi. We then have to be up early for our tour of Stonehenge, after the late walk back to our Marriott home at 47 Park Street. The busses don’t run after 5:30p, so tonight there will be no hopping on or off.
Over the past few weeks, I have run in five different countries – U.S., Germany, Egypt, Jordan, and England. This morning I slogged around London’s Hyde Park, just across the street from our Marriott lodging. Maintaining this 5,257-day running streak has been tricky of late, utilizing early mornings, treadmills, airport hallways, uneven pathways, and busy streets. I’ve only logged 40 miles in 21-days when normally this would be closer to 65. Plus, my legs have been stiff and sore after miles of touring these wonderous, worldly sights with too many rich meals aboard the Viking riverboat. In many cases, I haven’t had time to get in more than the minimum required mile each morning, keeping with the rules and regulations of the United States Running Streak Association. www.runeveryday.com, of which I’m a proud lifetime member.
This morning I did a little over two miles through the park but got a little turned around trying to get back to our hotel. It was the longest I’ve run in nearly a week, since the 3.1-mile effort along the Dead Sea. This was after yesterday’s 2:30a treadmill mile, lots of steps lugging suitcases through airports followed by London streets, grocery shopping, and a long walk to and from the Ain’t Too Proud to Beg musical theater performance late yesterday. I also didn’t sleep very well last night with some painful bladder issues.
The crowds were unbelievable throughout the West End streets of Piccadilly Circus, as we navigated our way to the Prince Edward Theater. It reminded me of fighting through the foot traffic in Times Square or during Mardi Gras. The pubs and stores were crawling with Brits and tourists out for a pint, fish & chips, special purchase, or just to people watch. I’d been up for twenty-hours with little luck getting a nap on the flight from Amman. Despite our lack of sleep, we still found the show quite captivating and the performers outstanding. It was a fun introduction to the London Theater District. Two more shows yet to go.
While we had unpacked earlier in the day upon arrival, I had turned on live Indy 500 qualifying coverage on SKY TV and once again failed to nod off. It was hard to believe that I could watch from across the pond, but viewership of the local event was blacked out in the Indianapolis area. Time has been confusing these past few weeks with 7-hours difference in Egypt and Jordan that changed to 5-hours upon arrival at Heathrow. By 5a it was light outside, so I got up, took some Advil, and readied myself to run. My legs were stiff and heavy as I made my way to the park where only a few other Sunday morning runners and walkers were on the empty pathways. As “The Streak” sputters on, tomorrow is another day.
On the 5.5-hour flight from Amman to London, I tried to make poetry of this trip of a lifetime experience. In the process, I used a couple of Arabic expressions like “Habibi” (sweetheart), “Yell-a, Yell-a” (hurry), and “tuf-tufs” (golfcarts). Ten flights, five countries, and fifty new friends is the only way to sum up this plane, boat, and bus experience, that included a ride on a camel. We went through so many security checkpoints at airports, museums, and historical sites that we were probably overly exposed to harmful x-rays. Tipping was expected to even go to the toilet and aggressive vendors chased us down the street to the boat wherever we went. All this hassle was worth it in seeing these unbelievable wonders of the world.
Among the surprising guests on the Viking riverboat cruise was a couple from my wife’s small Indiana hometown of Rochester. I thought the pyramids would be the highlight but instead it was Petra. We brought home souvenirs from the Cairo Marketplace, a Carpet Weaving School, a Papyrus painting outlet, and a Mosaic craft center, after observing the workmanship that goes into these unique items. Our last stop will be in London, so expect an encore poem, as well.
Trip of a Lifetime
Trip of a lifetime, Relics galore. With my “Habibi,” The wife I adore.
Seeing the pyramids, A bucket check mark. Ending with my return, To London’s Hyde Park.
“Yell-a, Yell-a,” Always on the go. The X-Ray exposure, Gave us a glow.
Early Mornings, Shorter slogs. Sights to see, No time for blogs.
Cairo’s Marketplace, And times to pray. Museums of yesterday, And Dead Sea mud play.
Tombs and Temples, Pesky flies. But not as aggressive, As the vendor guys.
Pay to pee, Another tip. Planes, Boats, and Bus, An epic trip.
Tuf-tufs, carriages, And even a hump. Modes of transportation, Hard on the rump.
From the scriptures, To the throne. So much ancient history, Carved in stone.
Nubians, Bedouins, Gods and Kings. Crusaders, Romans, Murders And Flings.
Obelisks, Cartouches, Hieroglyphics and Caves. Mosaics, Mummies, Mosques and graves.
Columns, Sculptures, Carpet School Mart. Egyptian cotton. Papyrus art.
Abu Simbel, A Dam good save. On Mount Nebo, Seeking Moses’ grave.
Luxor Temple treasures, Camels, goats, and crocodile. Navigating the locks, All while dining on the Nile.
The Wonders of Egypt, And Jordan’s Petra jewel. Lectured along the way, And even attended school.
The Avenue of the Sphinxes, And the Mother of them all. Viking friends we made, Fond memories to recall.
We saw how big the world can be, And how Rochester small. Structures dating back to B.C., And a modern, seven-story mall.
The time passed quickly, With Stonehenge ahead. Like Egypt’s Great mysteries, “Aliens,” it could be said.
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