Sunday, June 28, 2015

I see London, I see France (almost)

We had an easy passage across the Atlantic Ocean and landed in Southampton, England this morning. It is hard to believe that a week on the ship passed so quickly.  There were lots of activities, but mostly we dressed up for meals and ate.  Bronwyn and I took a Bridge class, we saw some theatrical productions, we went to some musical shows, we played a few board games in the lounge and Joan made a friend so the days passed quickly.  Did I mention that they had an incredible amount of food, including a chocolate extravaganza on the last night. 

The biggest frustration was the high cost and slowness of internet access.  Thus, we pretty much unplugged ourselves from the world for a week ... which was not a bad thing.

Yesterday at around 5 pm we sighted the first point of land (Bishop Rock) and started to make our way southeast toward the English channel.  By dawn, we could see England and the ship was starting its way inside the Isle of Wright and eventually into the harbor for Southampton.  Both Bronwyn and I slept poorly worrying about different things relating to the trip ahead so once I felt the ship turn and change its speed I decided to get up ( at 5 am) to watch the ship thread its way up to Southampton.

The early rising was worth it.  The view of the English shoreline was fantastic and included farms, fishermen, and ancient fortifications that looked like castles to me.  Watching the ship make its way up the winding channel both made me wish that we were sailing our own boat and glad that I was not trying to pilot the Queen Mary 2 through the confusing maze of channel markers.

The ship was docked by 6:30 a.m. and by we were on a bus headed to London by 9 a.m.  The beauty of taking an ocean liner to Europe was that we were so well rested that it wasn't hard to adjust to the time.  Of course, we left the ship about 10 pounds heavier than when we boarded the ship in New York.

By 11 a.m. we were standing in Victoria Station wondering how we were going to get all of our luggage through the crowd and down the steps into the Tube (there was no elevator), which we had planned to take to our bed & breakfast.  Eventually, we opted to take a taxi.  The good news was that London taxis can hold a lot of luggage.  The bad news is that we really didn't know where we were going.

While Bronwyn searched her phone and computer for the location of the B&B, and eventually used the taxi cab driver's phone to search the internet for the phone number of the B&B so that we could call and get an address.  After a few stressful minutes, Bronwyn talked to the owner of the B&B and got the address.  It turns out that the B&B was about as far as it could be from Victoria Station and still be in London.  However, the price was right.

Once we got settled in the B&B, we ate lunch and made our way back to Victoria Station on the Tube, where we picked up a bus tour of London.  It is hard to tell from the picture, but the highlight of the tour for Joan was riding on top of a double decker bus and getting to see Big Ben.  Well that might not be quite accurate, ... the highlight of the day for Joan may have been that we now have internet access again.

Tomorrow, we begin to visit some of the main attractions.

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