What a great day in London. And how sweet to be able to take each day slowly, to not be in a hurry, to skip a tour or to dive in, to take time for tea or simply sit on some nearby grass.
How lovely to take in London without time nipping at our behinds.
Perhaps I appreciate our time in London (being here just 3 days) because our time in Paris was a whirlwind tour. In Paris we felt the pressure of a once in a lifetime visit, the sites you must see, the places to visit, the ground to cover and the familiarity to achieve. But London is different.
Not only will we be here 9 days, but we (well, James and I) have been here before... and are quite confident we will visit again. Our absorption of the city does not need to fit into short days with stern book ends. So we are here, and time slows and the days seem to expand.
The first day we landed in London was via the chunnel from Paris; after landing, we cycled to our 'residence' and found an English movie online. James grabbed some nearby take-out Lebanese food (quite good, actually) and we melted, guiltless into couches.
Day two in London started with the London EYE, something I had beheld but never experienced. A 30 minute ride in a capsule over London, we exchanged photo taking responsibilities with strangers, and oriented ourselves to the sites and scape of the city. Soon after we enjoyed a glorious lunch of tapas and then hit the nearby IMAX to view, finally, Harry Potter 6. We puttered about the city after that, strolling past Charing Cross station and spilling into Trafalgar Square, then finishing the evening enjoying a scrumptious meal with friends just south of London (thank you Simone and Raphael!).
The TUBE is an amazing thing, getting us from here to there and everywhere. It is quite well kept, efficient and worth the experience. (By the end of the trip, we were 'experts' in determining our routes, grabbing newspapers to read while in transit and slipping our tickets nonchalantly in and out of our back pockets. In our minds anyway, we blended).
Day three was a slow morning with James perfecting his egg-poaching skills and soliciting family smiles by the long, deep whiffs of bacon. After breakfast we popped on the London Underground (TUBE) and landed at London Tower for a day of King Henry VIII, sword fighting, historical facts and details of the Tower of London, Crown Jewels, tea time and fabulous gifts shops (Caleb found really awesome, functioning miniature catapults---perfect for launching paper wads in a forthcoming class; Anthony splurged on a poster time line of England's Kings and Queens; I bought a deck of cards, a common, well-used souvenir of places we visit).
We ended day three by joining friends over a splendid meal at a tapas restaurant in downtown London. Then the boys joined their new friends for an overnight in Windsor; James and I meet up with them tomorrow, day four.