Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Wickre Travelogue (August 14-15)

We started our great adventure to Europe at 7 AM on Tuesday August 14, 2007 when a friend picked us up and took us to the Medford-Jackson County Airport for our 9:30 AM flight from Medford to San Francisco (SFO) on United Express. We arrived at SFO and my wife talked to a United employee and found we could take a shuttle from United's domestic concourse over to their international concourse without having to go back through security. We got to the gate for our United Airlines flight to London Heathrow and were greeted by a women United employee who didn't want to talk to anyone.She was very officious. At 1 PM we got on our flight to London. This was a very long flight and the seats were very hard in economy class. The service was good and the food was OK but certainly not bad. The in flight movies were Spider Man 3 and Shriek something and I didn't watch ether. We had bought blow-up pillows that hug the neck and it was a good investment. I listened to my MP3 player for much of the trip and or tried to sleep. We arrived in London early in the morning their time and when we got to passport control we saw our daughter about 60 people in front of us. She had flown in from Washington DC and arrived 15 minutes before us. We met up after we cleared customs and then got our luggage. All of our luggage made it!!!! We then got a taxi to take us to our hotel. The driver had a very "cockney" accent but was very friendly. He didn't know where Oregon was as was the case with most people we met. We said it was on the West Coast just above California. Everyone knows were California is. We found out that he was a big fan of one of our favorite TV shows "House MD" which is apparently shown over there too. He dropped us of at our Hotel The Sumner near Marble Arch and near Oxford Street, one of the main shopping streets in London. It was now about 9 AM on Wednesday August 15th. It was too early to check into our room but they agreed to hold our luggage till we could move in.

The Sumner Hotel is a boutique hotel of about 20 rooms with a very friendly staff. I later found out that most of the staff was from Poland. Everyone was genuinely friendly and helpful and I would highly recommend this hotel. Our room was small but well maintained. They had a good breakfast for us each morning and free Internet in the lobby. A very nice place and close to a grocery stores and restaurants. Each day they had the weather forecast in the Lobby. (rainy).

After checking our bags at the hotel we jumped on a "hop on- hop off" double decker bus for a tour of London. The tour guide on this first trip was very good. We were tired after the long overnight flight but went to the top of the bus for a tour that kept the wind in our face. It was a good overview of London. We got off at the Tower of London and purchased a guided tour from a Beefeater guide. We learned a lot of English history.... lots of beheading..... and then had lunch at a cafe overlooking the Tower of London. We then took the bus back to the hotel and checked into our room. The hotel staff had already moved our luggage to the room. We changed clothes and took off for more of the Hop on Hop off bus tour and ran into a driver who was very rude. We got off the bus and walked along the Thames River and stopped for dinner at the Sherlock Homes Pub and Restaurant. The place had lots of Sherlock Homes memorabilia and a nice mock up of Home's study. We had a traditional English dinner of beef and hot tea. We then took the subway (Tube) back to our hotel after we each bought subway fare cards to use for our stay in London. We then went to sleep after having been up for about 48 hours. In the next addition to this travelogue I will write about our trip to Parliament.

(Click on the title above for a link to The Sumner Hotel's web site.)