15 May 2017

London trip, day 1

We set off to London May 2, 2017. Loved the direct flight from DIA to Heathrow! British Airways, aah. "Would you like some wine? Here's a bottle for now, and would you like another to go with your meal?"

At Heathrow, we bought our "travel card", a 7 day pass for the Tube. The pass comes on an "Oyster card". Worked like a dream for the entire trip. We set off to find our hotel, the Holiday Inn Express on King Street out in Hammersmith, a couple miles west of main London. It is set back from the main road and very quiet. And . . . it is within easy walking distance to two Tube stations.

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Looking east towards the Hammersmith station:

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Looking west towards the Ravenscort station:

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The first thing to do? Hit the streets and get physically tired so we could crash and get rid of jet lag. The area around Hammersmith is a grand mix of races and nationalities. We heard English only some of the time. Crowded sidewalks, crazy traffic. Big busses, small cars, vans, bikes, loud motorcycles. Small shops, small eateries, big stores (like H&M), chain restaurants (Kentucky Fried Chicken, Subway), pharmacies, computer shops, banks, shops with fresh fruits and vegetables, pubs, a scenic old church. A group of uniformed students bustled out of a parochial school. Found an English pub and had a nice ESB beer. (ESB means extra special bitter; it was dark and creamy and unlike our local Colorado craft beers.)

Back near the hotel, we walked into a small joint that sold kabobs and fish and chips. We ordered the fish and chips! We sat down for a long wait, since our waiter/cook had to batter and fry the fresh cod. As we were the only customers, we struck up a conversation with this young Persian. He had a 9 month old son, and explained that he, as an immigrant, could not get health insurance, but luckily his son could. We discussed our views on Trump and health insurance and he talked about his situation and his adopted country's politics. Same problems worldwide. Since it took so long for the fish and chips, he gave us a salad "on the house". That fish was the best we've ever had!

Since the little eatery did not sell beer or wine, we stopped at the bar/restaurant in front of our hotel. After we sat down and perused the menu, we realized that we had to go to the bar to order. This turned out to be the "way it is" in most of the pubs and some of the eateries in London. We re-discovered gin and tonics. The tonic was lovely, like nothing we get here in the states. Just like we found in Ghana or Togo. Ice was the issue, though, had to keep asking for more!

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Ah, London. Up to our quiet room for an early, great night's sleep.

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