London: Day Five

Today is the last of our sight-seeing days in London, and Katrine offered to come along and help us make the most of it.  It's also the best weather we've seen in London, sunny and mild.  We met her at the Westminster tube stop at 10:00, then set out for Greenwich via the tube and the Dockyards Light Rail line.

Greenwich is on the outskirts of the London metropolitan area, and it's beautiful.  We walked through the Royal Naval College, which has beautiful old buildings, such as the chapel and the painted hall.  We visited both before climbing the hill to the Royal Naval Observatory, which is the location of the Prime Meridian, and is the timekeeping center of the world.

If you're really into naval navigation, astronomy, or timekeeping, then you'd find Greenwich fascinating.  I'm not quite that nerdy, so I found it merely interesting, though the breath of fresh air we got being out in the massive park surrounding the observatory was worth the trip alone.  Entrance into the observatory is free, which is the best price for attractions after you've been traveling for almost two weeks.  The only downside of the visit is that you have to walk up the rather steep hill that holds the Observatory.

On the way back down, Katrine got some nuts from an eccentric older woman who was feeding the squirrels in the park, and she attempted to do the same, with mixed results.  There was one squirrel who was very aggressive in his begging, and followed Holly for quite a distance before finding someone else to beg for food.

We then wandered until we found an Internet cafe, as I wanted to check in for our flights on the next day, it now being within the 24-hour period where you can do that.  I paid 50 pence for 20 minutes on the computer, and another 60 pence to get the 4 pages of boarding passes printed out.  Checking in early is key to getting the best seats on the flight, as I was able to move us into an exit row on the short Minneapolis to Waterloo flight, and into a 2-seat section on the trans-Atlantic flight, which is preferable to setting in the middle 4 seats of the plane where we were originally booked.

After accomplishing this minor mission, we went to a French cafe nearby that Katrine enjoys a great deal.  I had a French cider, and a small bite of the Creme Brulee that Holly ordered to go with her Coke.  Katrine suggested that we return to London to see the John Soane museum, which was quite interesting (and also free).

Soane was an amateur architect and a bit of an eccentric art collector, and his house is a maze that's absolutely filled to bursting with paintings and sculptures.  Many of the walls are actually doors, and can be opened up to reveal secondary layers of paintings underneath the outer layer.  It's very strange and wonderful at the same time.  I strongly suggest seeing it if you're in the area.

We then drug Katrine along on some souvenir shopping, as we hadn't done much along the way, and wanted to find a few things to take back for family at home.  There are numerous shops filled with everything you can imagine stamped "London", but most of it is crap, so finding something decent amongst all the junk is a bit of a challenge.

Katrine had to go pick up her friend Kira, who was arriving at Liverpool station from Denmark, but we made plans to meet for drinks at a pub later in the evening.  Holly and I returned to our hotel to rest a bit, then set out for the neighborhood we were going to meet Katrine in later to find something to eat.  We took the tube to the Sherlock Holmes-themed Baker Street Station, then wandered around for half an hour trying to find a pub that wasn't absolutely bursting with noisy football fans. 

We eventually succeeded in finding a pub called the Duke of York, which had an upstairs bar that was almost deserted, without even any music playing. I sent the location to Katrine via a test message on my phone, after Holly discovered that they weren't going to open the kitchen until 9:00 p.m.  I nursed a cider until Katrine and Kira showed up, followed soon by another Dane named Leon, though I'm probably spelling that wrong.  They hadn't eaten yet either, so when the kitchen opened at 9, we all ordered.  Leon and Kira had lasagna, Katrine and I each had an angus hamburger, and Holly had fish & chips.  I didn't try her fish, but the chips we had were probably the best I've eaten since leaving the US, nice and crispy.

We chatted over dinner, and had a very good time discussing differences between the US and Europe, as well as convincing Katrine to come visit us at some point.  I eventually drained another two pints of cider before we all said our goodbyes, and my sober wife helped me stumble my way back to the hotel via the tube, where I showered as she packed the bulk of our things, and then I quickly fell asleep.