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London: Last Day

Travel to Luxembourg






Our neighbourhood


June 21: Ultimo Giorno a Londra; Viaggiamo a Luxembourg

Today, we left the house around 9:30. Everyone was still pretty sleepy from staying up late (again) the night before. Max and I got some croissants from a wonderful patisserie in our neighborhood, and then we went to the The Chocolate Society next door to enjoy them with an espresso and hot chocolate.

From there, we took a taxi to Westminster Abbey, where we toured the Abbey and the various rooms off the main part of the church. More was open than the last time I was here. The kids and Patti enjoyed touring the abbey. It's an incredible example of gothic architecture, with beautiful stained glass, and extremely high ornate ceilings.

After the Abbey (and the gift shoppe, of course), we walked over to Big Ben, where we got on the subway to Oxford Street. Everyone was pooped so the only thing left to do was lunch and a little bit of shopping.

We ate lunch in the 4th floor cafeteria of Selfridge's (highly recommended), and then Lauren and Patti went to do some shopping, while Max and I walked down to Grovesnor Square to visit the Spy Shop, a shop which we'd seen on our first day but that had been closed.

Max was intent on buying a spy camera to spy on his sister. However, the pricetag on the cameras was a little out of his budget, so after looking at all the merchandise, we left and made our way home on foot.

We got back to the apartment around 3:30, and spent the time relaxing and waiting for Patti & Lauren to return. A short while later, the two of them returned with their purchases. The taxi driver arrived a bit later, and we loaded our luggage and headed off to the airport.

Before going on, here are the kids' and Patti's picks for London.

Lauren's List -- Top Six from London:

  1. British Museum - An AMAZING sight, book at least 3 hours (not including meals)
  2. Shakespeare's Globe - We went to go see "The Twelvth Night" It was spectacular! It was three hours long, but most worth the standing time. We had one lady tell us that the seats were so uncomfortable, she went to go stand!
  3. Afternoon Tea at Fortnum & Mason's - Even if you don't go to tea, just go have a look around the store, the whole first level is a grocery store, where you can buy anything from Belgian gormet chocolates to microwave popcorn! And of course, it has burgundy-red 3-inch carpeting.
  4. Brass Rubbings - This sounds REALLY disgusting, but you go into this place called, "Cafe in the Crypt". Its like a coffee shop in a real 18th century crypt. You are walking on gravestones, and at first I was a little iffey, but then I walked in. It's really interesting, you really get to compare the different time periods! Anyway, in the back, there are big marble plates that have brass engravings on them. They have all kinds of pictures, they're replicas of what is on churches and buildings all around London. They have pictures of all kinds of stuff like people, mystical creatures or even celtic designs and come in sizes from 6 inches to 12 feet! I picked Queen Anne, King HenryXIII's 2nd wife who was about 1.5 feet long. Then they stretch black paper over it and you sketch it out with these crayon-type things. It took me 1.5 hours! It was so much fun, I could do it all day long!
  5. The Tate Modern - This was incredible! My favorite exhibit was society and things. I highly recommand that you don't go into the nudes and portraits gallery, as many deranged artists in there have strange obsessions of painting body parts on a 24 square feet of canvas. It was pretty gross, and that was when we decided to leave. Anyhoo...OOO! There was this really cool piece where a lady took a beautiful grand piano and hung it from the ceiling upside-down. So it's suspended in the air and you're kindof looking at it thinking, "hmmm....i wonder why it's called, 'concert for anarchy' when all of the sudden it drops a little, the keys rip out and the lid falls open. So like everyone screams and it quietly shuts again to wait for its next unsuspecting prey.
  6. Mousetrap - A grrrreat play. I really enjoyed it, it's an Agatha Christie "Who done it" comedy.

Max's Musts:

  1. Mousetrap - it's funny and full of suspense.
  2. The London Eye - you can see a lot of London
  3. Twelfth Night - it was funny
  4. St Paul's Cathedral - the Whispering Gallery and climbing to the top of the dome was really fun.
  5. Brass rubbings - it was like coloring but it was a lot easier.
  6. Afternoon tea - it tasted wonnnnnnnnnderful!

Patti's Picks:

  1. The shows. The performances were fantastic, much better than we're used to seeing in San Jose.
  2. St. Paul's Cathedral. I climbed to the top! Over 500 steps!
  3. Westminster Abbey. Sooo gothic.
  4. High tea. Delicious. Everything I expected.
  5. British Museum. I need to go back and spend a week there.

And now, to continue our journey...

We were flying out of the London City Airport, an airport just outside of London, very near the Millenium Dome (can you say ug-lee?). We checked in, and as we went through security, they made me open my bags. I'd forgotten to take my little Timberland knife out! Doh! So I put it in an extra bag that I had, and went back to the counter and checked it in.

A short while later, we made our way to gate 9 (9 out of 9), and walked up the few stairs to the Fokker 50 airplane we were flying on. The plane holds about 70-80 people, and is a two-engine prop plane.

The airport was so small that there was only one runway. So, when it was our turn to take off, we taxied out to the end of the runway, made a u-turn in place, and then took off.

The flight was pretty smooth for a prop plane flight. There was only a moderate amt of turbulence as we climbed to cruising altitude, and then a moderate amt as we descended to land.

They gave us these little candies as we took off... Belgian toffees which were outstanding. Lauren liked them so much that she asked the flight attendant if she could have another, and he returned with a whole cup of them. She was in heaven!

Our flight was just a little over an hour, and we landed safe and sound in Luxembourg. The Luxembourg airport was just slightly bigger than the London City Airport. We deplaned, collected our luggage (didn't have to wait at all), got some Euros from the ATM, and went outside to wait for Steven and Lori (Patti's brother-in-law and sister) to pick us up.

Steven and Lori had moved to Luxembourg, where Steven is working for the US Embassy, just the Friday before (the day before we left on our trip). They had moved into their apartment just the day before we arrived, so we were going to be staying with them while in Luxembourg.

A short while later, they arrived, driving a large US Embassy van. We loaded the van and drove off to Cents, the suburb where they live.

Their flat is quite a departure from our London flat. It's very luxurious... the floors are all marble. They have all-new embassy-supplied furniture (Colonial style), and a few of their own things. They had two bedrooms with two twin beds each for us to sleep in.

Because Lori & Steven have just moved in, there's no phone... the only phone we have at our disposal is Lori's cell phone, which can only make calls within Luxembourg. Cut off! No e-mail, no posting... what will we do?

Although it was now after 9 PM, we were hungry. They'd served us a light snack on the plane but it really wasn't enuf. So we headed down into Luxembourg City.

The drive there was spectacular. Luxembourg City sits on a hill, but to get there, you need to first go down a hill into a gorge, and go back up the hill. The views are spectacular!

We went to the main place in the city, and found a panoply of restaurants. Of course there was a McDonald's, and the kids were immediately drawn into its vortex. In the meantime, Patti, I and Steven went next door to an Italian pizzeria and had a light but satisfying meal.

By the time we returned home, it was quite late... we didn't get to sleep until 1.




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