London. One cannot visit England and leave out London, can they? Since the answer to that question is an emphatic "no," we spent this day in that greatest of all the English cities.
The day started early, with our drive to the Oakham train station. We arrived quite early, thinking that we might struggle for parking. However, parking was abundant, leaving us with time to freeze our keisters off while waiting for the train. The train took us from Oakham to Peterborough, where we changed onto the fast train to London's Kings Cross train station. Once there, we took the Underground (known in America as the subway) to Baker Street. Where we emerged from the underground, we were greeted with a large statue of Sherlock Holmes, commemorating his fictitious address of 221 Baker Street. We found the box office for the Original London Tour bus company, and booked passage on the tour bus. It took us all over town, with a knowledgable guide providing commentary concerning the various sites. We saw many things, and I probably cannot remember them all. I recall seeing St. Paul's Cathedral (quite breathtaking, even if it was under construction and hidden behind scaffolding), the Tower of London, Madame Toussaud's wax museum, the Tower Bridge, the memorial to the great fire of London, the London Eye, and many other things. The tour was set up such that we could exit at any stop and view the area, and then simply hop onto the next tour bus to continue the tour. The buses run every 10 minutes or so. However, we were content to just ride the tour, and we never did
get off at any exit. We considered getting off and touring the Tower of London, but time didn't permit.
After the tour, we found a Starbucks and had coffee and sandwiches. American style food was a welcome change.
Leaving Starbucks, we jumped back on the tube (underground), and headed to the South Kensington exit, which we thought would put us near Harrod's Department Store. Alas, we were left with a long walk. The day was beautiful, though, with ample sunshine and shirtsleeve temperatures, so we didn't mind. Harrod's is everything we had heard. It is monstrous in size, and carries anything you can think of. We did not have enough time to see it all. I think you could easily spend a day there, if you wanted to. Beth bought some souvenirs and some ornaments for the Christmas tree.
The return trip was uneventful. Leaving Harrod's, we took the tube back to Kings Cross train station, hopped on our train back to Peterborough, and at Peterborough, changed to the Oakham train, and home.
We both enjoyed the trip to London, but Beth was quite stressed by it. We picked a day when there were major sections of the city blocked off for a parade in honor of the British champions from the recent winter Olympics. Tour busses could not go into the areas where the parade was, so that added to traffic problems and caused us to miss some things. This, plus the bustle and congestion of such a large city seemed to have unduly stressed Beth. She developed a severe headache, and was quite glad to be out of London. I did not mind it as much as her, but have seen enough of the city to last me. Not being much for cities, I would rate it as one of the least enjoyable days we've spent so far. Two things made it nice for me, though. First, I did not have to drive. I could actually look out the windows of the trains and see the scenery. Second, the weather was beautiful. So far, this has been the nicest day in that respect.
Coming back from Oakham, we stopped at a little take away (take out) restaurant, and picked up some fish and chips for dinner. Their packaging was interesting, as they gave us two large fillets of fish, each individually wrapped in a piece of paper, as well as a large pile of potatoes, also wrapped up in paper.
All told, it was a nice day, but I think we've seen the last of London. We had originally planned on at least two days there, but Beth does not want to go back.