Happy birthday, America!  As I said a few places, what better way to celebrate American independence than hanging out in the capital of the country we independenced from?

Happy birthday to Baba too.  I wasn’t able to call her today, but I did call her from RDU before we left to come over to Europe.

Our three goals today were the Globe Theatre, the Tower of London and Abbey Road.

We checked out and checked out luggage to return later and pick it up, which, in retrospect, wasn’t the best idea.  The hotel was attached to Gatwick Airport, which was about a half hour’s train ride from London.  That wasn’t so bad, but we were going to have to go back and get them then get back to Guildford, which is about a half hour west of Gatwick (again, by train).

Anyway, we got to London and ate at a place on the Thames not too far from the Globe.  We took a tour of Shakespeare’s famous theatre, though, and I feel like I should have known this, it wasn’t the original.  The original, as we learned on the tour had been built about 750 feet away, burned down, was rebuilt then later taken apart.  The original site now holds the first concrete residential buildings or something and is therefore on a historical registry.  The current one was completed in 1997.  They don’t have the original plans, but they made it as authentic as they could.

The tour was pretty interesting, and we would have loved to see a play there.  We talked to Stanton about that when we were first working out details of the trip.  In fact, Hamlet was playing tonight, which would have been really awesome to see, but you have to order tickets about four months in advance.

Tower of London

After that we crossed the Thames and walked on down to the Tower of London, which is where we spent a good chunk of the day, partly because of what I’ve become known for on this trip, which is holding everyone up so I can take pictures.  In fact, the last place we went in it was the armoury, and of course I had to take pictures of the swords and halberds and suits of armour.  When I got out I found everyone else and Stanton told me he expected me to be at least another 15 minutes.  Amanda told me she’d told them she knew I’d be a while when they (who were all well ahead of me) got to the armoury.

I went to the Tower of London back when I was on my Eurotrip with Aunt Robbie (20 or so years ago… yeesh!), but all I really remembered was walking through a dark room to see the Crown Jewels and not being able to take a picture of them.  I didn’t remember that there was this whole big castle complex that went with it.  I mean, kings used to sleep in rooms I walked through today.

After the Tower we made the multiple underground trek to Abbey Road.  I made sure Amanda knew it was just a road before we went there.  It was my way of sort of teasing her about it, but I’ll admit I’m glad we went just to say I was there.

When you get off the underground you just walk through a neighborhood for a bit then, if you weren’t sure if you were in the right place you suddenly hit on an intersection with a bunch of Japanese tourists and you know you’re there.

They weren’t all Japanese, of course.  There were plenty of white kids stopping traffic to strike a pose while walking across the street so someone could take their picture.  Honestly, it’s got to be the most obnoxious intersection in the whole United Kingdom.  If I were a local I’d avoid driving through there as much as I could.  The funny thing is that one guy honked.  Like, really, you didn’t expect that coming through there?

Amanda and I went over to Abbey Road Studio and she noticed that they have a webcam set up to take pictures that you can download within 24 hours.  Someone should make that more well known.  Amanda and I crossed back over at the crosswalk, and there were cars coming, but we didn’t stop or pose or anything- we just literally crossed the road.

Sarah made dinner reservations for us at a restaurant called Circus, which was kind of posh.  Amanda lamented not having anything nice with her to wear, so we all stopped in a pub for a drink then went shopping.  Well, she and Stanton did.  There were a lot of shops where we were and Amanda ended up getting a dress from Urban Outfitters.

Circus was really cool.  Like I said, it’s a bit posh, swank.  The atmosphere is upscale but cool.  The food is expensive pretty unique and very tasty.  Every half hour or so they have someone come out and do a special show on the long table closest to the kitchen.  There was an Elvis that came out and did a hula hoop routine (much cooler than I can make it sound), a guy who did a gymnastics/rings routine and a lady who came out and stripped down to pasties.  I feel like there might have been one more person too.

The bathroom, or more specifically the sink, was one thing that stood out to me.  When you go to the toilet area there’s a room with a big square black column in the middle with the middle cut out then doors for the men’s and women’s rooms.  The section cut out of the column (that’s not exactly right, just the best way for me to describe it) turns out to be a motion activated sink.  I got that pretty easily, but the hand dryer, hidden in an alcove in a wall, took me a sec.

Sarah joined us at Circus.  She’d spent part of her day in an American bar with some Americans and had an American flag bandanna that got passed around a bit.

When we were done Amanda, Sarah and Will hopped a train back to Guildford and went back to the American bar.  Stanton and I went back to Gatwick to get the luggage.  It was a bit of an adventure.  We thought we missed a train from London to Gatwick, but another one was about to leave at the next platform over, so we ran to get on that one.

Once we got to Gatwick we had to take a tram from the train station to the main part of the airport then go down the long hallway to the hotel to get the luggage.  Then we had to go back up the long hallway, hop the tram back over and catch the last train from Gatwick to Guildford.  We made that one with about a minute to spare.  Then when we got on the train it was going to the wrong direction, but it turned out that it was just going to the end of the line (one stop) before heading back.  We hopped a cab from the train station to the house and that was that.  It really wasn’t that big a thing, but we did do a bit of running.

Stanton and I got back to the house just a few minutes before the rest of the crew.  At one point we heard a loud noise outside and saw a helicopter hovering not too far away.  It stayed there for a while.  Not that there’s any importance to that, but it was a bit eerie.

Amanda and I started packing and getting things ready to go.  Sarah called us a cab.  Amanda started not feeling well.

Zach Dotsey