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Our Magnificent Journey
Chapter 6
Europe 2005
London, Paris, Normandy, Prague


Carol and David  
Day 17

VE Day in London.


We slept great last night after the delicious dinner at La Tasca and a brisk walk through the lively crowds at Covent Garden.


Today, alas, is our last day on this adventure. This chapter of Our Magnificent Journey must come to its inevitable conclusion (we are already planning the next chapter, which will be a tour of Italy.)


Showered and dressed, we took the elevator down to the hotel's dining room where we enjoyed a very delicious English breakfast.


After breakfast we walked out into the chilly but sunny London Sunday and jumped on the Jump-on/Jump-off bus. We wanted to re-see the major London sights but also stay warm and sheltered. This is a great way to get an overall view of this ancient and important city. Today is the 60th anniversary of VE Day (victory in Europe – WWII) and there are quite a few celebrations going on through the city. For example, Trafalgar Square is totally blocked in preparation for a televised VE Day celebration starring Cliff Richard later this afternoon. We stayed on the bus enjoying the sights, accompanied by the guide's excellent commentary, until we realized we were hungry, so we jumped off at Victoria Station, visited the loo, then walked toward Buckingham Palace. We found a warm café where we stopped for hot chocolate and chips (French fries).


Marble Arch along the bus route

An entrance to Hyde Park from as seen from our bus


The Tyburn Tree was a location where many executions took place


Statue of Churchill at Parliament Square


After our short rest and respite we jumped back on another “Original” Jump-on/Jump-off bus and continued our tour of London. We jumped off finally at the stop near our hotel where we had originally caught the first bus. We had completed the circle in roughly four hours. Great sights, great people-watching (large crowds for today's VE day celebrations) and lots of terrific photo opportunities if you are quick.


After a short rest and freshen-up at the hotel, back out into the festive crowded streets around Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Square. Then we walked up to Soho, through some “seedy” narrow streets where I was propositioned three times by women even though Carol was on my arm. Lots of massage parlors and X-rated magazine/movie shops. Once we were past that area we found ourselves surrounded by several interesting restaurants. At 3:30 we decided on Busaba Eathai, a trendy Thai/organic eatery. We had mee siam (rice vermicelli stir-fry with chicken, prawn, coconut, garnished with bean sprouts, Chinese chive and egg) and pad king talay (prawns, baby squid and scallop stir-fry with Thai pepper, woodear, chili and ginger) and coconut rice. We also ordered Singh beer from Thailand. The food and ambience was excellent – just what we needed.


In the midst of the hustle and bustle that is Picadilly Square


Next we walked into the seedy, seamy heart of Soho with the sex shops, gar bars and pubs. We sat at the ancient Three-Greyhounds pub for a few moments as we watched the throngs of humanity flow by, out to enjoy the sun on a Sunday afternoon.


As we walked out of Soho heading south, we came to 7 Dials, infamous as ground zero for the Great Plague of 1665 that decimated much of London. After ambling through 7 Dials we soon found ourselves back in Leicester Square, swarming with people.


Next we walked to the Strand and found Villieurs Street and Gordon's Wine Bar which was located in an interesting dark cellar, but was so smoky that we decided that a few minutes of ambience was enough, and we were glad to be back in the cool fresh air.


Carol in the dark, smoky ambience of Gordon's Wine Bar


Near the hotel we took a left, crossed to the north of the Strand, back to Covent Garden where we sat and people-watched over glasses of red wine at the Zinc Bar. It is barely 6:00pm and we are exhausted. We called Carol's mom to wish her Happy Mother's Day.


We sat in the Zinc Bar café for an hour and a half reminiscing about our adventures, dreaming about new ones, and enjoying each other's company.


Then we walked out into the Market and window-shopped arm-in-arm, enjoying the musicians on every corner, and then slowly wound our way down to the Strand and to the hotel. We packed for tomorrow's flight home to Tucson. Carol took a bath and we each said our goodbyes to the magic of Europe before getting into bed at an early hour.


Note: We knew that there was going to be a VE Day celebration at Trafalgar Square – we passed it several times today while on the jump-on/jump-off tour bus. But when we got into bed, we turned on BBC and saw the actual celebration live. When it began, a vintage WWII plane was shown flying towards Trafalgar Square to inaugurate the evening. We turned of the TV to see if we could hear it (we are 2 blocks from Trafalgar Square) – not only did we hear it, but we watched as it flew just over the top of our hotel. We felt as if we were somehow a part of this important, historic remembrance. We turned the TV back on and watched the events that were taking place two blocks down the crowded Strand.


Pedometer reading for today - 6.5 miles


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email david@davidandcarol.com