Here we are, almost a year later, and I realize I never finished up our trip!
After Lincoln, which we really didn't want to leave, we headed for London, and the last 2 days of our European adventure.
London is not my favorite city. While I have enjoyed some good experiences there, and made some good memories, it's just too crowded and confusing to me to put it at the top of my list. I suppose it's not fair to say so, given that I've spent a total of 4 nights there in my entire life, but those times were spent in very expensive hotels that were filthy and depressing. The people in the city are generally friendly, although there are some (cough-hotelstaff-cough) who invariably say, "What do you expect? This is London." The cabbies, though, are sweet and funny. And the police are polite, helpful and comfortable. Our first contact with the London "Bobbie" was on our first night there, when we could not find our hotel. We drove around for almost an hour and a half, looking and looking, and irritating the local drivers, and about half of that time was in a 6-block radius of our hotel! We just could not find it. Finally, I'd had enough, and crossed two lanes of traffic to talk to two police officers I saw on the side of the street. Contrary to the usual image of London police, they were armed. My kids would have to identify the weapons, but they were big and automatic. After explaining our plight, one said, "Let me pull out my Magic Map," and proceeded to whip out...an iPhone. We laughed and laughed together, got our directions, and, in 5 minutes, were stopped in front of that night's fleabag. I kid you not, we stayed in some lovely places on this trip, and some nasty ones. The nastiest were in London.
Anywho. We were settled. The next morning, we made yet another mistake. As we had only one full day in London (and two partials) we decided to take advantage of the HOHO. Big. Mistake. Although we used this to great advantage in Washington, DC, DC does not have the traffic issues of London. It seemed like a good idea; ride from stop to stop on an arranged tour, hopping on and off to see things as we wished, then riding to the next sight. In reality, our HOHO failed on two levels. In the first, traffic was just so thick that we spent lots of time sitting in the bus, watching the other cars around us, and saying, "Look off over there. Can you see Nelson's Monument?" In the second, the company we rode with considered many factors in planning their route, and the one that won out was shopping. The tour stops were very close to such famous London shops as Harrod's and Hamley's, but farther from things like The Globe and The Tower. We walked further than we would have had we just taken a taxi; next time, we'll use taxis and The Tube.
We did, however, get to see The Globe and the Tower, both of which were on the top of everyone's list. We missed Westminster, Parliament, any royal palaces and a boat ride on the Thames. But John and I plan a week in London in about 5 years, so we'll take care of those then.
More about London in another post...