Thursday, July 31, 2014

London III - Alison Joins Us

July 22
Alison at the Baker
Street Station

Boy are we lucky travelers! Alison L., the exchange student from the Ukraine who lived with us in Charlotte over the 2012-2013 school year, came to London to spend some time with us.

Alison flew into Lutton airport last night but came it too late to get transportation into London. So she spent the night at the airport and met us at the Baker Street Underground Station around 7 A.M.. She had to be exhausted!

We haven't seen her for over a year and we have lots to catch up on, including her successes at law school.

Band returning to
Wellington Barracks
After taking her back to the flat for a short rest and to drop her bag, we walked across the Tower Bridge and then along the Thames toward Westminster Bridge. Then worked our way past the Horse Guards to Buckingham Palace, then to the Wellington Barracks, where we were lucky to see the band and guards returning from the changing of the guards at the Palace.

We had lunch at The Cask & Glass and then back to the flat. Later that evening we went back out near the flat and to show Alison how pretty it is at night.

July 23

Pat and Alison went to Camden Markets without me (I was not feeling well). Then also stopped at Daunt Books, another cool book store.

At Camden Markets Daunt Books

July 24

Today we went to the Science Museum (one of the places Alison had on her list to see). It was a very interesting place and we certainly enjoyed the visit. One of the really cool things we say was a working loom (very noisy).

Flying Shuttle Loom Slide Rule!

We then made our way to Brunton Lane to see a Banksy - The Falling Shopper. Lucky for us, there was a convenient pub near the Banksy, the Coach & Horses, where Alison had her first English brew.

The Falling Shopper (Banksy) Alison's First Brew

July 25

Took a bus to Dover to see the White Cliffs! This is a trip Pat has wanted to do for years and we finally made it.

What a wonderful place. We hiked along the top of the national park. Took a couple of hours, but it was worth the effort.

Looking North along the Coast

South toward the Port of Dover

Alison taking a break!

Pat had her heart set for walking on the beach at the bottom of the cliffs, but the only access was down along path. Unfortunately, there had been a collapse of the cliff just above the final stairs to the beach that prevented the final way down. How disappointing!

The collapsed walkway The remains of a ship

It was finally time to find a place for dinner, before catching the bus back to London. After walking quite a bit more, we found Cullins Yard Wine Bar, Bistro and Brackery. We had a wonderful meal (Pat still talks about how good the Spaghetti Carbonara was). Along with my Carbonara, I had a couple of pints of Pigs Ear.

A Brackery?

We got back to the flat about 1930 (7:30 P.M., for most of us). Alison wasn't completely worn out and want to take a bike ride, using one of the rental bikes that are located all around London (and just outside our flat). I wanted to go along, knowing she had not been on a bike for at least a year (she learned to ride while in Charlotte). She insisted she go alone. After a very shaky start - almost hit a couple of people and hit a car - off she went. After dark, around 2130, I started my worried Gtandpa routine - pacing about the flat and outside along the streets. Alison finally returned around 2230 - safe, at last!

July 26

Alison wanted to visit a particular store in Oxford Street - Primark. This is her kind of store and we did lose her for the day! I gave up early and went a couple of blocks away to the Marlborough Head pub for a pint. After an hour, I headed back to the store to see if Pat and Alison were ready to move on. Found Pat. We searched the store and could never locate Alison. Finally, we gave up, went back to the pub for lunch. Then went back to the flat.

Believe it, or not, Alison didn't return until 2200 (10:00 P.M.), exhausted and hungry. She had bought clothes for herself and some souvenirs to take back to the Ukraine.

July 27

We started out today, walking toward the Gherkin, a really cool building in the City.

The Gherkin 1

The Gherkin 2

A triple selfie

Then Pat and Alison went to the Saatchi Gallery. Since the last time Pat and I went to the Saatchi, it had moved from its previous location near the Thames. However, one of the very interesting exhibits was still being shown - a room filled with oil and all the smells that one would expect with a room full of oil.

Ants at the Saatchi

Having a ball at the Saatchi


A Ukrainian artist was here

The Oil Room 1

The Oil Room 2

July 28

Another place that has been on our list of places we wanted to see, Brighton, also got done. Today, Monday, we boarded another bus and the 3 of us headed down to Brighton. Unfortunately, it rained all the way there and much of the morning.

The first thing we did when we got there was to find a place to eat. Nothing really good was around where we were, near the pier.

After lunch it was down to the water and the beach. We were really surprised the beach was rocks, not sand. Pat and Alison collected some of the rocks as souvenirs.

Showing Alison the art of collecting rocks

Nice shoes!

Water meets the beach

Eventually the rain quit and we strolled along the pier.

The weather cleared up nicely!

We had to visit the Palace before we headed back to London.

July 29

Out to Greenwich for the day.

July 30

Our last day with Alison! We had a nice farewell dinner at a dim sum restaurant at St. Katherine Docks - Ping Pong.

Then back to the flat to finish packing.

July 31

We parted ways with Alison this morning - very sad! We made a pact to meet in Paris for Alison's 21st birthday. It will be here before we know it. See you in Paris, Alison.

Alison headed to Lutton airport and we took the tube to Heathrow for our trip to Singapore and a completely new adventure. London has been really great.

Check-in for Singapore

Loading our QATAR flight

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