Day 1: Tuesday Arrival
August 21, 2007
from Merry Ol' England!
Well we made it.
The furthest east Grandpa Mohawk and I have ever been. What a heady feeling.
Our flight took off from BWI just a few minutes late after 9pm last night. (Everything was delayed in the sky last night.) All went smooth as we flew up and over the US eastern seaboard and North Atlantic. British Airways is a decent airline. They fed us near constantly, (dinner, breakfast, snacks and drinks in between) and entertained us through the night. Instead of napping Grandpa Mohawk and I spent the night watching the in-seat TV. (A neat little system of video on demand: TV, news, cartoons, and recent movies. I watched Billie Piper, of Doctor Who fame, in Mansfield Park and Grandpa Mohawk finally got to see Meet the Robinsons.) Suffice to say this system will surely keep all the kids busy during a flight.
Arrival at Heathrow was a bit delayed at 9:25am local time (4:25am our time). And by the time we reunited with my power chair and luggage, plus exchanged our currency and hailed a taxi for the hotel, it was near noon by the time we checked in.
London cabs are an interesting thing. All tall inside and made wheelchair accessible via portable ramps. Although I had an older cab that was a bit tight and made me duck on the way in. Still we managed to speed our way through the city (you must come in from the Western suburbs about 20 miles away and an hour drive time) and survive the wacky London traffic.
Marriott's hotel is in the west corner of the old County Hall building. County Hall is the former home of the London city government circa 1920. It's a "listed building" which means accessibility is hidden inside so as not to mar the exterior design. The ground/river level is taken up by a myriad of touristy attractions including the aquarium, Star Wars exhibit, ticket office for the London Eye, something called the "Fright Show" that involves people in costume jumping out at people. And of course a wide range of cafes and ice cream shops, even a McDonald's.
We settled in our room, and then fought jet lag to head out for a walk. And therein lies the one true London bummer. The weather here has turned downright nasty. Between the time we arrive at the hotel and went out for a walk in the afternoon, the temp dropped about 15-20 degrees. Everyone here is bummed at the weather and total lack of a summer. It's averaging in the 50's, rainy & overcast with a nice chill.
Not to worry though. Grandpa Mohawk decided to do as the Romans (or Londoners) do, don his rain jacket, sweater and brolly for a leisurely stroll along Thames. We walked a loop from County Hall, down the riverbank, across the Jubilee Bridge (a pedestrian walkway running beside the Tube bridge), up the Victoria Embankment towards Big Ben and back across the Westminster Bridge. (This includes retracing a few scenes in the more recent Doctor Who.) Between holding onto my chair's handle and using the nice long brolly as a walking stick, Grandpa Mohawk has settled into the gentleman's stroll.
Alas by the time we returned for food, I was exhausted. Jet lag has a way of catching up with you. So we've both had an early night in hopes we can adjust our body clocks to local time.
It's 11pm now. Perfect for a quick cup of tea, check on the weather forecast (more clouds and rain) and hello back home.
We've got the Internet for one week. So we'll check in as we go along till then. For now know that we are safe, reasonably cozy and ready to begin our adventures.
BroganMc & Grandpa Mohawk