Winter Trip 2010: Post #7
December 23, 2010 Leave a comment
Well, my trip is over now and I am back home. I may post some of my overall thoughts/conclusions on my trip in a separate post. This will be my last post summarizing my activities in England. It was an amazing time and I am very happy that it happened.
The section of my time in England was significantly affected by a snow storm that occurred Friday night. While it was only a few inches of snow, it is considered the worst snow storm in England in 18 years and combined with the cold temperatures that followed, the coldest winter in 25 years. Snow was not cleared in most areas and the “grit” (sand/salt) that was used on the snow in some areas was considered in short supply. London Heathrow airport basically shut down and when I left several days later, only 1/3 of flights were occurring. I was concerned that I would not get out, but I got lucky. Many people spent 2-3 nights in the airport and reports were that if your flight was cancelled or delayed, you likely would not be able to leave until Christmas Day at the earliest. I heard horror stories in the airport.
Even with all of this happening though, I still had a great time. I owe my friend Jack major thanks for making my time in England such a great experience.
Our plans changed significantly. We were supposed to go to the Liverpool football game Saturday night (we already had the tickets) but the game was cancelled due to snow and we reworked the plan for the day:
- Jack lives on the outskirts of Bunburry. We walked along the path he used to use to go to school and walked around the village including the village green (Scout building, bowling green, etc.) and saw the church that goes back 700+ years.
- We had lunch at his house.
- We drove to Birkenhead to take the ferry across the Mersey river to Liverpool. It’s the most famous ferry in the world.
- While we waited, we walked to Birkenhead Priory and walked around the remains and rebuilt sections of the priory from 1150.
- We walked around Liverpool. We tried to go to a Maritime Museum and a Beatles Museum, but both were closed due to snow.
- We walked around the Albert Docks and Livepool One – a shopping area in the center of the city.
- They have these crazy statues all over Liverpool called Super Lamb Bananas. They are combination lamb and banana. Weird.
- We saw where The Beatles started.
- We went back across the Mersey River and visited Jack’s cousins and his grandma. They were quite fantastic.
- We went back to his house for a late tea (dinner) and hung out there.
- We took a train from Crewe to London.
- Our original train got cancelled so we took another train.
- We had to wait at a station because of work on the lines.
- In London, we took the tube back to Jack’s house but had delays due to issues with snow and someone who threw himself under a train.
- We went to Greenwich to see the time line and go to the museum. The museum was closed though. We did go to the Greenwich Market, which was really neat.
- We met one of Jack’s friends at a pub in London, near the Bank of England.
- We walked to Brick Lane. It has a line of Indian restaurants where people stand outside offer you deals to try to convince you to come to their restaurant. I know of nothing like it in the U.S. We ate a good dinner and went out with Jack’s friends.
- We spent the morning at the Tower of London – easily one of my favorite places we visited. We took a tour and then explored some of the buildings including the Crown Jewels, artillery, torture, etc.
- We met one of Jack’s friends and went exploring all afternoon throughout London. Unfortunately, it seems that you cannot actually go into many of the popular sites. Among the places we went were:
- Trafalgar Square
- Picadilly Circus
- Buckingham Palace
- Harrod’s – a huge department store like nothing I have ever seen
- Big Ben
- Westminster Abbey – but did not go in as it was closed
- We went to the London Eye, a huge ferris wheel on the Thames River that overlooks all of London. It really made me appreciate the city.
- We went to dinner at a pub called The Mad Hatter. Across the street, there was a billboard for Alice in Wonderland. Ironic?
- We went back to Jack’s place and I got ready to head to the airport the next morning.
- We got up early to make the trek to Heathrow. Online, it said my flight would be leaving, but we still were not 100% certain.
- I took the tube to the airport. Jack went with me part of the way (had to switch trains a few times) and then I went on myself.
- When I got to the airport there were barriers up in the terminal. Security was only letting people with confirmed bookings on confirmed flights through to check in. There were lines of people laying down/sleeping under silver foil blankets. It was madness.
- They did not want to let me in – we were told that unless your flight was leaving in less than 1.5 hours, you had to wait outside under a tent that had been set up. Luckily, I was able to get through anyway – although when I checked in, our flight had still not been assigned a gate.
- The flight did leave, about 1.5 hours late, but that was nothing to complain about.
- I flew through Philadelphia back to St. Louis.
The whole experience was great. I am extremely grateful for everyone who contributed to the success of my three weeks abroad. I am indebted to each of you for this amazing opportunity. I hope to be able to travel abroad like this again soon.