Boy are we lucky travelers! Alison L., the exchange student from the Ukraine who lived with us in Charlotte over the 2012-2013 school year, came to London to spend some time with us. We haven’t seen her for over a year and we have lots to catch up on, including her successes at law school.
Alison flew into Lutton airport last night but came in too late to get transportation into London. So she spent the night at the airport and met us at the Baker Street Underground Station around 7 A.M.. She had to be exhausted!
After taking her back to the flat for a short rest and to drop her bag, we walked across the Tower Bridge and then along the Thames toward Westminster Bridge. Then worked our way past the Horse Guards to Buckingham Palace, then to the Wellington Barracks, where we were lucky to see the band and guards returning from the changing of the guards at the Palace.
We had lunch at The Cask & Glass and then back to the flat. Later that evening we went back out near the flat and to show Alison how pretty it is at night.
Pat and Alison went to Camden Markets without Ray (He was not feeling well). They also stopped at Daunt Books, another cool book store.
Today we went to the Science Museum (one of the places Alison had on her list to see). It was a very interesting place and we certainly enjoyed the visit. One of the really cool things we saw was a working loom (very noisy).
We then made our way to Brunton Lane to see a Banksy – The Falling Shopper. Lucky for us, there was a convenient pub near the Banksy, the Coach & Horses, where Alison had her first English brew.
Took a bus to Dover to see the White Cliffs! This is a trip Pat has wanted to do for years and we finally made it.
What a wonderful place. We hiked along the top of the national park. Took a couple of hours, but it was worth the effort.
Pat had her heart set for walking on the beach at the bottom of the cliffs, but the only access was down a long path. Unfortunately, there had been a collapse of the cliff just above the final stairs to the beach that prevented the final way down. How disappointing!
It was finally time to find a place for dinner, before catching the bus back to London. After walking quite a bit more, we found Cullins Yard Wine Bar, Bistro and Brackery. We had a wonderful meal (Pat still talks about how good the Spaghetti Carbonara was). Along with Ray’s Carbonara, he had a couple of pints of Pigs Ear.
We got back to the flat about 1930 (7:30 P.M., for most of us). Alison wasn’t completely worn out and want to take a bike ride, using one of the rental bikes that are located all around London (and just outside our flat). Ray wanted to go along, knowing she had not been on a bike for at least a year (she learned to ride while in Charlotte). She insisted she go alone. After a very shaky start – almost hit a couple of people and hit a car – off she went. After dark, around 2130, Ray started his worried Grandpa routine – pacing about the flat and outside along the streets. Alison finally returned around 2230 – safe, at last!
Alison wanted to visit a particular store in Oxford Street – Primark. This is her kind of store and we did lose her for the day! Ray gave up early and went a couple of blocks away to the Marlborough Head pub for a pint. After an hour, he headed back to the store to see if Pat and Alison were ready to move on. Found Pat. We searched the store and could never locate Alison. Finally, we gave up, went back to the pub for lunch. Then went back to the flat.
Believe it, or not, Alison didn’t return until 2200 (10:00 P.M.), exhausted and hungry. She had bought clothes for herself and some souvenirs to take back to the Ukraine.
We started out today, walking toward the Gherkin, a really cool building in the City.
Then Pat and Alison went to the Saatchi Gallery. Since the last time Pat and Ray went to the Saatchi, it had moved from its previous location near the Thames. However, one of the very interesting exhibits was still being shown – a room filled with oil and all the smells that one would expect with a room full of oil.
Another place that has been on our list of places we wanted to see, Brighton, also got done. Today, Monday, we boarded another bus and the 3 of us headed down to Brighton. Unfortunately, it rained all the way there and much of the morning.
The first thing we did when we got there was to find a place to eat. Nothing really good was around where we were, near the pier.
After lunch it was down to the water and the beach. We were really surprised the beach was rocks, not sand. Pat and Alison collected some of the rocks as souvenirs.
Eventually the rain quit and we strolled along the pier.
We had to visit the Palace before we headed back to London.
Out to Greenwich for the day.
Our last day with Alison! We had a nice farewell dinner at a dim sum restaurant at St. Katherine Docks – Ping Pong.
Then back to the flat to finish packing.
We parted ways with Alison this morning – very sad! We made a pact to meet in Paris for Alison’s 21st birthday. It will be here before we know it. See you in Paris, Alison.
Alison headed to Lutton airport and we took the tube to Heathrow for our trip to Singapore and a completely new adventure. London has been really great.