Today was our last full day in London, England but before our touring could begin I absolutely had to resolve the issue of us staying one more night at the Brent Cross Holiday Inn. Fortunately the front desk manager this morning was a gentleman by the name of Roman and he had a very bright and extremely helpful attitude. In a matter of only a few minutes we were confirmed for one more night at a very decent price and no need to change rooms. Thanks to Roman all was good with the world once again and off we went to the nearby underground station – first stop Piccadilly.
Piccadilly also known as Piccadilly Circus is very much like a scaled down version of New York’s Times Square. The four ladies had visited Piccadilly early in this journey but today we were all there together. Piccadilly is a lot of fun but today it was just a starting point. After visiting several shops daughter Kari steered us to a Nando’s restaurant, a rapidly growing global chain of chicken restaurants known mostly for their wide range of delicious sauces ranging from fire in a bottle to slightly more than water to be enjoyed with a diverse range of cooked chicken. It was as much a party as a meal but then that is our Kari; she knows all of the hot spots all around the world.
Next we headed off in the general direction of Buckingham Palace. No underground trains, no buses and surely no taxis – we needed to walk off some of that delicious chicken while absorbing many of the unique sights and sounds of the wonderful City of London. Eventually we arrived at the palace just in time to enjoy the changing of the guard ceremony. It is very much a fascinating ritual but I did notice that they have moved the guards well behind the fence. When I first saw Buckingham Palace many years ago there were at least two guards, one on each side outside of the main gate. But it was not uncommon for some tourist to antagonize the guards in an effort to get them to flinch or otherwise lose their composer. That potential problem is now removed I am certain with the great approval of the guards.
Ceremony over we began to gradually withdraw and as we did we found a very pleasant bobby, a British Police officer who cheerful agreed to be photographed with our ten year old granddaughter giving her a very nice lifelong treasure. Mission accomplished we made our way over to the nearby St. James park there to stroll amidst abundant birds and rich beautiful foliage. We even noticed a section dedicated to the late Princess Diana. The experience was deeply serene.
There were other places we had intended to visit: the Tower of London, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament but they would be left unvisited by us on this trip. The day was rapidly drawing to an end and we opted for a return to our hotel and from there a visit to a very nice shopping mall directly across from the hotel. By this time in our trip my wife and I had visited London, Brussels, Cologne, Paris and Reims. Our daughters Kari and Kimberly and our granddaughter Somaya had also done all of that plus Venice, Italy. And Kari and Kimberly even tossed in a one day excursion to Amsterdam. So bluntly we were getting a little exhausted and so we basically wrapped it up that night.
The next morning was devoted mainly to preparing for our return home to California U.S.A. A casual buffet breakfast, some packing and one more quick trip to the shopping mall before we all climbed aboard our van taxi and headed off for London Heathrow Airport where we had just one final challenge before we could fly away. It seems that somehow we all had assigned seats, all that is except my wife Nenita. Exactly how and why that happened no one could really say but it was very quickly resolved and now all that was left was to clear security and head off for boarding. But I was able to do just one more thing on my personal bucket list before departure. I found a restaurant at the airport that served steak and kidney pie. That was important to me because on my very first visit to London in 1966 the very first English meal I ate was steak and kidney pie and I loved it. So today on what will in all likelihood be my final visit to London it seemed fitting that I should end it with some steak and kidney pie. It was every bit as delicious as my first experience. Mission accomplished we all entered the Virgin Atlantic Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner, took our seats, sat back and relaxed and a mere 11 hours later touched down on runway 24 right Los Angeles International Airport very tired but filled with great memories that will be with each of us for the rest of our lives. Thanks for coming along with us but for now adieu, abschied and farewell.
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