Friday, August 5, 2016

Looping back to London

My last visit to London was a little over 4 years ago, a few months before they hosted their own Olympic games.  I loved how easy it was to get around the city on the Tube.  I loved how there was history and cool places to visit and discover everywhere, in such a concentrated area.  I also loved how diverse the population was.  It was a clean city (vs. New York, for example), and an exciting place to be.

The voyage to London ended up being kinda crazy.  I arrived at my destination a day later than planned.  Spent the night in IAD, and when I finally did get into Heathrow, it was pretty late, so I stayed in a hotel before being fortunate enough to tag along on another random employee's ride to the town where our office was.  On the bright side, the set of chairs where I chose to sleep in IAD was right at two Pokestops, so I collected quite a few Pokeballs.

It was a good thing that I had eaten a large, great BBQ meal for lunch (brisket, pulled pork, greens, hush puppies, and sweet potato fries), because it was a looong time before the two flight maintenance issues finally grounded us for the night. 

For our meetings that week, we stayed in a hotel in Buckden, which is an old coaching stop.  It has buildings dating back to the 1400s, which is crazy to think about.  The hotel was quaint, too, with uneven floors and antique furnishings.

The whole town felt like it was from a time long ago.

There are lots of inns and pubs, with traditional British beer.  I had lots of Belgians in Japan.  British beer is good - solid, flavorful, not too bitter, drinkable, substantial.

Two mornings in a row, I did 9 milers along the Ouse Valley Way, a public trail that runs along the Ouse river.  It was beautiful, with birds, rabbits, moored boats, mist, flowers, cows, and gates.

 The first morning, I had to do a bit of figuring out the right ways to go.  I might've taken 1:22:23, 9:09 average.  I had meant to get out at 4:XX, but I didn't leave until 5:30am because I couldn't figure out how to unlock the doors of the hotel.  The English countryside was so beautiful.  The sun was coming out, so mist rose from the river.

The second morning, it sprinkled then rained then let up.  I had debated whether to run again this day due to the looming weather and my legs, but my legs were fine.  "All Creatures of Our God and King" played through my head the whole time.  Enjoyment and appreciation.  

Got to swing through Cambridge one evening.  It's a very special city.  Princeton's great, but Cambridge is so much older and grander, with its streets laden with history and tradition.

Vote Remain!

Unfortunately, my phone died after about 5 minutes of use, so I missed a lot of great photo ops.

Over the weekend, no running, but got in some good walking, exploring London.

Visited the Tower of London and explored its exhibits and towers:

Went from Hyde Park down to Buckingham Palace and the Churchill War Rooms, then Parliament, Tate Modern, Millenium Bridge/St. Paul's, and Blackfriar:

After WWII ended, they pretty much left and locked up the war rooms from which Churchill coordinated the war effort.  This place made me really appreciate all of those who had worked tirelessly and courageously during those times.  It's also cool to see that someone who had faced failures and trials in his life eventually went on to become such a pivotal figure in Western civilization.

Most significantly, Paddington Bear came home at last.  I had bought him on my way out of London in 2012, at the airport.  He finally gets to see his home.

 (In case you've ever wondered what's in PB's suitcase)

 And I couldn't leave the country without going for some geocaches:

(This one is only accessible a few hours per day, during low tide!)

(The letterbox I attempted had no stamps, but I did get a webcam cache, plus an event - at Abbey Road!)

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