Category Archives: London

London (Day 3)

On our final day in London, we decided to go to the Tower of London. It was a bright sunny day and we were there when it opened.  It turns out that during its history, many animals were kept at the tower.  As a recognition of this these wire sculptures were made of some of the animals.  They are pretty impressive, made of what seems to be chicken wire.



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There are a lot of ravens roaming around the grounds.


We then took off for where I used to live 14 years ago.  I cannot believe it has been that long.  We got off the tube at sloan square and had lunch at an upscale eatery ( they charged us extra for essentially filtering our tap water) among other extra charges.  We then walked over to Battersea park, where we saw these love birds.DSC_0248
We then had a pint at the Prince Albert (my old watering hole).

And then went by my old flat.


Then it was across the Albert bridge and back to Sloan Square.


Overall a very fun trip.

London Calling (day two)

Our big ticket item for Sunday was going to see a Tottenham Hotspurs FC game at White Hart Lane in Tottenham.

We began the lovely, sun-shiney day, however, with a stroll through Kensington Garden to the Prince Albert Memorial (which Bret kept telling me was a statue of Buddha).  We ran into a pair of feral  rose-ringed parakeets en route.  I think it is interesting that when the King gets married, his wife becomes the Queen, but when a Queen gets married, her husband is a Prince Consort.  The memorial, which is just across the street from the Royal Albert Hall  is pretty spectacular.



We strolled on to the other side of Hyde Park and jumped on a tube.  We made a quick detour for part 1 of Bret’s trip down memory lane and dropped by the Generator hostel, where he spent the first week of a six month stint in London 14 years ago, then passed by the Burger King around the corner he used to frequent.


We also caught a glimpse of the rival team’s (Southampton) bus.


And so it was time to make our way to White Hart Lane!!

We had planned to take the tube to Tottenham Hale station, but we were serenaded by young, Southampton supporters on the train (and exchanged supportive glances with fellow Spurs supporters), so we decided that we were probably heading to the same place as them and jumped off the tube when they did.  It was a decent walk from the tube station to the stadium, so we got a good feeling for the neighborhood.  Tottenham is a municipal borough of London, about eight miles northeast of the city center.  Tottenham has been around for over a thousand years.  In the late 1870s, the area was transformed from a semi-rural recreational area for upper class Londoners to a middle/ working class neighborhood because of an influx of cheap housing and transportation into London (the train).  Currently, it has a multicultural demographic.  We saw more ethnic diversity on our walk to the stadium than we have seen on our journey so far (or around Corvallis).

The Spurs started playing football in 1882 and have been on location at White Hart Lane since 1899.  There is controversy over the fan’s use of “Yid Army” to identify their support for the Spurs.  Originally, Spurs supporters were subjected to anti-Semitic slurs because of the large contingent of Jewish supporters.  They fought back by adopting “Yid” as a chant to diffuse the insulting nature of the name calling.  Now, they are reluctant to let go of the chant, although there are fewer Jewish supporters and currently many find the chant insulting (the English Football Association, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and the Association of Black Lawyers have called for a ban on the chant).  It is an interesting cycle.

It was also really interesting to walk from a very ethnically diverse neighborhood into the White Hart Lane game day zone.  Not a lot of diversity there, but a lot of white men… occasionally a girlfriend or wife (Myself included, I suppose…I estimated the male: female ratio at 9:1 and Bret estimated it at 4:1).  There were a lot of father/ son combos too, but I only saw two little girls.  It made me a little sad.

Anyway, we were there to support our team, so we got our beanies and scarves and found our seats.

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Things were not looking good for the Spurs.  Southampton scored 2 goals early in the first half.   This might be one of them:


The Southampton supporters were drowning the home team supporters with cheers and chants.  It was almost getting embarrassing.  The Spurs came back though with a goal just before half time.  I think that livened the crowd a bit and the second half started with some loud cheers and another home team goal!  The rest of the half went back and forth with no more goals until 1 minute into 4 minutes of stoppage time.  The Spurs made a glorious comeback and their fans let the other team know.  This was the chant after the winning goal (video is from a different game though and strong language warning).

It was pretty exciting 🙂

After the game we shuffled with the rest of the crowd back to the tube and headed to Leicester Square for a stroll and Chinatown for dinner.

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And, of course, we stopped for a pint at the local pub near our hotel, The Stewart’s Arm, where we got to hear an interesting (and by interesting, I mean barely recognizable) version of “Wagon Wheel,”  a song that always brings us back to our wedding 🙂

London Calling (Day One)

So, we decided to go to London for the weekend.  We were lured into it by stories of incredibly low airfares.  The airfare was, in fact, quite inexpensive…  can’t say quite so much for the rest of the trip, but we had a great time!

We left Friday evening and arrived in time to go to bed at a hotel near the airport.  We were up early Saturday morning, however, in order to pack as much fun time in as possible.  We were on the first bus out of Stansted airport and made it downtown by 9:30am.  We started right in with breakfast.  The Regency Cafe had high marks on yelp and it hit the spot.


The next order of business was a walk past the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey to the Thames River.

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We walked along the river past the London Eye.

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We found out what a taco truck looks like in London.


We stopped at Tate Modern to catch some culture.  A couple of Bret’s faves:

Portrait of a Young Woman 1935 by Meredith Frampton 1894-1984


my fave:

Celebes 1921 by Max Ernst 1891-1976

When we were museumed out, we walked across the Millennium bridge.  It is a pedestrian bridge that was constructed as part of the Millennium tourist attraction package.  It was quickly nicknamed the wobbly bridge and closed shortly after opening in 2000.  It reopened in 2002 and seemed sound enough to us.


We also got some fresh toasted nuts with salt and caramel!!!



Next up, St. Paul’s Cathedral.  This is the seat of the Church of England.  The cathedral was designed by Sir Christopher Wren, who is credited with rebuilding much of London following the great fire in 1666, and was the tallest building in London for much of its lifetime (365 ft).


We had to hasten along, however, because we needed to get back to the river for a boat tour!  Along the path on the northern side of the river, we ran into some more cool embellishments: camel sided park benched, dragons, and, yes, a 3500 year old Egyptian obelisk.  The obelisk is called Cleopatra’s Needle, although it predated Cleopatra by about 1500 years.  It was a gift from Muhammad Ali (the King of Egypt and Sudan, not the boxer) in 1819. It did not actually leave Egypt until 1877 and had a rough journey (including a few days floating around the Bay of Biscay in a giant iron cylinder after the boat that was transporting it sunk).  It was finally erected in 1878 over a time capsule (with the following items: A set of 12 photographs of the best looking English women of the day, a box of hairpins, a box of cigars, several tobacco pipes, a set of imperial weights, a baby’s bottle, some children’s toys, a shilling razor, a hydraulic jack and some samples of the cable used in erection, a 3′ bronze model of the monument, a complete set of British coins, a rupee, a portrait of Queen Victoria, a written history of the strange tale of the transport of the monument, plans on vellum, a translation of the inscriptions, copies of the bible in several languages, a copy of John 3:16 in 215 languages, a copy of Whitaker’s Almanack, a Bradshaw Railway Guide, a map of London and copies of 10 daily newspapers).

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Anyhoo, on to the river tour!

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If someone was found guilty of treason, he/ she would be shipped from the houses of Parliament to the London Tower, through the Traitor’s Gate, to await execution.


We were getting fairly worn out by the end of the boat tour, but we only had the weekend to pack in as much as possible!  So, we walked over to Piccadilly Circus for a much needed drink and snack at the Queens Head pub.  Then, we strolled through St. James’ Park to the entrance to Buckingham Palace.

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Luckily, we happened by a tube stop just as it began to hail.  We decided to call it a day and head to our hotel.  We barely made it out for dinner before we crashed out from a full day.

Next up, Tottenham Hotspurs FC game, the Tower of London, and a trip down memory lane for Bret!