The Singleton's turned their dials to full tourist mode. It was big. Alarm: 6:15 am. Out the door: 7:30 am. Breakfast: who has the time. Agenda: London.
The alarm goes off a good 2 hours earlier than any previous day. But it's ok, cause we have our game faces on. It's like the scene from Rocky 1- he is running through the streets of Philadelphia training for the biggest fight of his life, he nears the end of his journey and races up the stairs. We know you are humming, "Gonna Fly Now or Eye of the Tiger," to yourself right now...it's ok, go with it...and he fist pumps the air with total triumph. Cut and Paste the link below:
This was us as we took on the city. Ok, we didn't have little british kids following us down the street, but did have to run to the tube as we were late again (ohh, classic Singleton). What didn't help our situation was that we were trying to catch the tube at 7:45 am during the peak of morning rush hour. Let us set the scene: We rush down the tube on the LEFT side of the escalator using the passing lane for the first time (bet you didn't know escalators had a passing lane!). We hustled to the platform and await our arriving train. As it arrives, we can quickly tell that each of the passing compartments is already full. Doors open, no visible room. Oh, but we make room. You can kiss your personal space goodbye. You might as well help your neighbor drink his coffee. The sardine can that was the Jubilee line headed for our stop at Westminster where we again got to utilize the California style passing lanes as we raced to our connecting train. These trains weren't quite as packed, but Shayne did encounter a clear, jelly type substance as she grabbed the handrail while boarding the train. Shayne asked herself, "What do I do with this gelatinous goo?" When the girl next to her was exceptionally rude about creating additional space, let's just say we found a perfect landing strip on the back of her right shoulder.
We arrived at the Victoria tube station, and continued our Rocky type assault through the streets of London, as we made our way towards the Victoria Coach station. We arrived at the terminal just in time to find our bright red, historic double decker bus waiting for our arrival. We boarded the bus with our guide Danny, and driver Gary, and headed for the streets of London to soak up a great level of base knowledge about our new city. You really lose a lot when traveling under ground all the time, so we thought we would connect some dots with an above ground tour. We buzzed past site after site, and made stops at Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's Cathedral, and the Tower of London. We then boarded a brief Thames River cruise, and sailed under the Tower Bridge, Millenium Bridge, and the pathetic replica of the London Bridge (who's original now sits in the lovely tourist destination of Lake Havasu, USA). Back on the bus we went, for more sites and stops at St. James' Palace & Buckingham Palace, the changing of the guards, and we saw the big preparations being set up for the Royal Wedding on April 29th. Coolest location of the day: The building used for Grigott's bank in the Harry Potter movies (Jake disagrees!) We took in a great amount of fun facts from the city, but unfortunately not many of them have stuck with us just yet. One day at a time.
After our whirl wind of a morning (yes, all of that was before noon), we headed back to the Victoria Coach Station to catch our bus towards the world famous Stonehenge. We travelled by coach for about 2 hours towards the town of Salisbury on the outskirts of London. We made a brief stop off on our way out of town to pick up the remaining 10 guests on our tour. They board the bus, and we immediately hear amazing mid-western accents being thrown all over the place. As they had to wait in the rain for about 40 minutes prior to their pick up, let's just say these were not happy campers. As we get on our way, we overhear the woman in front of us complaining about her frizzy hair made worse by the rain. She goes on to complain that her blow dryer exploded when she plugged it into the convertor and will need to rush to Wal-Mart when they get home. Jake immediately hits Shayne on the arm, and she sympathizes with the woman's plight. We strike up a conversation and they begin to discuss the many benefits of the Chi-brand hair straightener. Neither have felt comfortable using such a fine product with improper voltage. In the words of Kristy Keith, "Once you go Chi, you never go back!"
We quickly come to realize that in addition to her hair struggles, they are having a hard time coping without the luxuries of 'Sonic' ice, fountain soda, and the luxuries of American fast food. Something tells us that our friends from small town Missouri won't be making the trek back across the pond anytime soon. She and Shayne did however, enjoy watching each other's hair grow larger by the minute in the misty weather! This would have been a great day for a 'pocket Chi.'
Our Rocky race continued as we pulled up to Stonehenge.
* 5,000 years old
* Engineering phenomenon
* Acts as a prehistoric calendar
* Works as an astrological tracking device
* Ancient burial ground
* Used as a worship site for religious practices throughout history
* Totally and completely marvelous
This is one of those places you watch documentary after documentary about (well...that might just be us!) and never imagine it as a place you will go. When you walk up to his breathtaking site, you know you are standing on history. It is really a hard thing to put into words. It left us both literally speechless.
We journeyed back with our friends from Missouri and discussed the nuances about British vs American life. We laughed about the adventures to come and ended the day back at the Libertine for a pint and pizza.
We might not have ended the day in the boxing arena, but we certainly did Mr. Balboa proud.
Lessons Learned: Wear deodorant on the tube when traveling during rush hour and carry Wet One's in your bag at all times.