Thursday, April 30, 2009

April 29-30: Taking Off and Landing, Starting and Then Stopping

Our flight departed Des Moines at 1:33 PM with a connection in Detroit.  Following this, we boarded a larger plane to London.  Fortunately, the back of the seats seemed to be padded with only 3 layers of Kleenex, which would've been no problem at all if there wasn't a small child in the seat behind me who evidently thought I had a keen interest in feeling his small, individual toes pressing with varying force against my lower back; he was sadly mistaken.  In a vain effort, "dad" made at least 6 remarks in attempt to stop the feet, but at an age when one's attention span is roughly that of a flea, the child had no other choice but to continue.  To distract from this, a full meal was served at no additional cost (Flight Attendant: "Chicken or Pasta?"  Nearly Every Passenger: "Chicken." Flight Attendant (after having served most): "Here's your pasta."), including a  breakfast-like offering made up of a less-appetizing, rather doughy egg-and-biscuit, combined (interestingly) with a cup of exotic fruit.  

We deplaned 6 hours and 46 minutes later on the accord of our pilot, though I would've been just fine with a London arrival in, say, an hour or two.  My tire of flight was diminished considerably when we boarded the dot2dot (paid transport for 4-6 people from the airport to the hotel) and met an Australian couple who had just been flying for over 24 hours yet seemed they had just finished spending the day at the beach.  I've never met an Australian who wasn't generally cheery - perhaps there was a beach on the plane.  

The dot2dot ride into the reality/surreality of London was something different altogether.  I was suddenly awakened when faced with the prospects of throngs weaving bikers, motorcyclists, cars, and double-decker buses all roving over lanes barely large enough to contain them, and, for added effect, at great speed - as our driver navigated us to the hotel.  In addition, I was surprised to see distances listed in miles - it is a very interesting group of people who refer to distances traveled by car in miles but the speed at which they travel those distances in kilometers per hour.  Amazingly, we arrived intact and unscathed and were even able to get our room at 10 AM.  This was followed by a well-deserved 2 hour nap.  

After waking, still very tired, we headed towards the British Library to view the Sir John Ritblat Gallery which houses the Library's premier works; amongst the collection: the Magna Carta, pages from DaVinci's notebook, a Shakespeare First Folio, and the original, handwritten lyrics to a number of Beatles songs including Yesterday and Hard Day's Night.  A full listing of the contents of the gallery can be found here: 


Next, we walked in the general direction of the Royal Courts of Justice (home to the Court of Appeal and High Court of Justice of England and Wales) and the Inns of Court (home to 4 professional associations, at least 1 of which every barrister in England and Wales must belong).  Certain structures within the Inns date from the late 13th and early 14th century and were a splendor to view, even from the facade as seen from Fleet Street.  Very near this area is Temple Church, consecrated February 10, 1185 as the Knights Templar's English headquarters, which we attempted to find and succeeded with 10 minutes left before closing time (I didn't even know it'd be open).  We entered and were allowed to take pictures and video and generally had a great 10 minutes (we will be returning here later).  

After this, we walked back towards the hotel, rested for a bit and then headed across the street to the Brunswick, an open air shopping arcade with restaurants interspersed (http://www.brunswick.co.uk/).  Following dinner, we returned to the hotel and promptly crashed at around 7:30 PM.  Dan was out at 8, I lingered on until around 10:30-11 reading and watching BBC News, for some reason unwilling to give in to my body's tiredness.    

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