Thursday, November 12, 2015

Day 91: Status Quo

Thursday. Venice is still sick. I slept with her last night, to be sure she had no "really" bad reaction to the medication and to help administer it during the night, and, of course, to offer any comfort I could. Poor thing.
Our view

Chris' work is going through some changes at the moment and there is a new deadline on the table (bad timing with our UK travels). But, as it looks like our day is a bit altered, as it is, he went into work for half a day. His time in the office will allow him to get a little work done and to say a proper goodbye to the London office.

Meanwhile, Xander and I have breakfast. Venice rests.

Chris returned home to have lunch with Xander and me. We decided to head out to Leatherly Lane for lunch, a place filled with farmers market vegetables and crafts, as well as, several food carts. First, we stop in at the market near HotelTonight and, this time, I find Vitamin water. Not fizzy, some vitamins. Maybe Venice can drink this stuff. I also picked up a few cups of jello (pre-made) for her to try. Meanwhile, Chris ran up to HotelTonight to return the keys he forgot he still had (doh!)

Then we walked to the carts. Here, we were able to pick up strawberries (the one food item Venice has been asking for), a smoothie (something else she's been wanting), and our own lunches. We also stopped by a coffee house for a quick espresso. We took our food and goods back to the aparthotel to eat lunch at home.

The carts on Leatherly Lane (left), Blue skies peaking through
Chris and Xander enjoying the coffee shop (right)

Venice tried a strawberry and a sip of the smoothie, but really, nothing was good for her tummy. Side note: Venice, after refusing for many months, decided she was finally ready to try my nasal rinse (think Netty pot), but... I must have sent home my salt packets because I can't find them anywhere. I searched EVERYWHERE and I think it is hanging out with my receipt from yesterday, dang it (but I used more serious words here). I swear, there's a black hole in our aparhotel.

After lunch, with Xander not excited for touring and such and Venice not up for going out and about, Chris and I decided to go out together. The kids stayed home. Xander agreed to take care of Venice and keep her company. Chris and I were able to get out and see a few places.

First, we had to "Top Up" our Oyster Cards (all pass to London's public transportation). We had paid for 7 days and those days are up, so we'll top them up for another 2 days. But, the machines do not like our credit cards and it takes us about 3-4 tries each to get them to work. Finally, we're both successful (each with a different credit card, if you're curious) and we're on our way into the Tube.

First up Covent Garden. OMG, another misnomer. There is no garden. It is a shopping area. Cute, beginnings of holiday decorations... but I had imagined us walking through a big garden. Along with shops, restaurants, and offices, there is an open air craft "shop" called the "Apple Market" (yes, I assumed it was Apple products, and there is an Apple store there, it's just not the "Apple Market).

Street (left), Apple Market (middle), Hogs Head, a "Gentlmens Venue" (right)

After Covent Garden, we walk to Leicester Square. Of course, by this time, the park in the middle is closed. The green spaces always seem to be closed and hard for us to find. Not like Berlin where there was a park every which way you turned. This is the entertainment area and there are a lot of theatres and big shops (including M&M World, which is high on the kids' list to visit, so we'll be coming back here with the kids, I suppose).

Street (left), Hippodrome (middle), Park in Leicester Square (right)

Next on our twilight tour is Trafalgar Square. Here we find The National Gallery, Canada House, and our first glimpse of Big Ben. We also stumble across two giant fingers. Strange, right? I looked it up later:

"Pointing fingers never solves anything, but that hasn't stopped someone making a sculpture of two giant fingers doing just that and plonking it in the middle of Trafalgar Square. The 25-ton sculpture is the work of Mexican artist José Rivelino Moreno Valle and is the first of four sculptures that will be popping up across the city as part of the Contemporary Mexican Sculpture exhibition. But soon the giant fingers won't be the only part of the human anatomy in Trafalgar Square, because next year David Shrigley's giant thumbs-up will be appearing on top of the fourth plinth. It's basically going to be a selfie-stick wielding tourist's dream." - By Isabelle Aron

Well, the author is right, it was a popular spot to take selfies (or regular photos), we did wait for our turn!

The Admiralty Arch (left), Big Ben in the distance (middle-left)
The Fingers (middle-right), Nelson's Column (right)

The National Gallery (upper left)
Canada House (all other photos)

Ok, check!

Next on the list is Big Ben and the London Eye (just looking). Just a few more blocks and we get better views. Unfortunately, we have lost the light and it is now nighttime. Excuse the photos as they get remarkably worse with the low light. Side note: The traffic around this area is horrible. At one point, to get closer to the river, we decided to just walk through all the stopped traffic (pedestrian lights were farther than we could see at the moment). And as we got closer to the intersection at Big Ben, it seemed like 4 cars could make it per light, then hoards of people would cross, then repeat. As you hear a siren approaching, it's hard to imagine how they get anywhere fast enough. We have seen emergency vehicles drive on the wrong side of the road on many occasions (traffic is stopped and there is no shoulder) and at other times, I've seen them wait until lights allow cars to move out of the way.

Westminster Abbey took on a cool look in the dark.

London Eye. Check. Big Ben. Check. Westminster Abbey. Check.

We had wanted to make it to Buckingham Palace, but it was almost a mile away and it was dinner time. We had to get back to feed the kids. So, we'll have to try another day, if possible. First, we down a cup of espresso (our first bad cup). Then, we duck into the Underground and hop on Circle line.

Google said to get off at a stop and walk about .4 miles to the next Underground station to catch the Central line. But, on the Circle line's map, the next stop shows you can transfer to the Central line. I wondered out loud why Google would send us one stop early and have us walk when we can just transfer at the next stop.

A local standing next to us overheard and offered some help. We can do either. If we get off at the first stop, we will walk above ground to the next station. If we get off at the second stop, we will walk underground, where, she advises, it will be better marked. Perhaps we could get lost if we were walking above ground. Ok, so we'll do the second stop.

Bad call! It was super crowded, sometimes not moving at all due to so many people, a turning stroller, or people waiting on the current-narrow platform. To our helper's credit, there were signs, but they weren't as frequent as you'd hope. It was a crazy labyrinth of going through rat-mazed narrow hallways and, at one point, going a level deeper (and so very much hotter). It took us 15 minutes of hot-hell to get to the next station. We instantly regretted it, but not knowing how long it would be, we had to keep on track. This is one of those mistakes that really sucks, but if you lived here for more than a few days, you'd learn from it and make a different decision the next time. As for me, I'm just dying of the heat and ready to be out in the open air.

Side note: Check out the photos below. I have not been able to take a really good one yet, as when we're in the middle of so many wall-to-wall people, I can't quite take out my phone to get a good photo without fear of being jostled and losing it... not to mention, I can't stop or I'd be trampled (exaggeration... sort of). The photo on the left shows how many people were remaining on the platform, AFTER those commuters, who were able to, packed themselves in. Chris is waiting in line. In Berlin, you just waited where ever. Here, you better wait right at the edge of the platform, or you're not getting in. The next photo shows a few people on the platform who did not make it on this train. You can see the gentleman who DID make it on the train, standing at an angle, almost sticking out of the doors (he better push in and duck more so as not to get hit by the doors). And yes, there are employees on the platform with paddles to signal the driver when it's clear to close the doors and pull away. There is also an employee on a microphone announcing to those of us left on the platform to remember that there is another train coming in 2 minutes. Ok, the last photo, on the right, shows how the commuters have finally ducked in far enough for the doors to be closed and are standing at a bent angle for the duration of their trip, while the rest of us wait for the next train.

The Tube at rush hour.

Our many sauces.
OMG, fresh air is so wonderful. I am so happy to be out of the Tube. And we weren't even as squished as some of those before us. Having missed one train, the next train wasn't as crowded. It was still wall-to-wall people inside, but we weren't slow dancing with full body contact. Anyway, I am happy to be out in the open with air and space to spare.

Down the block from our aparthotel, Chris and I split up. I go home to give Venice her next dose of medicine. Chris heads to grab take-away from the restaurant next to HotelTonight (we know we like it and Chris knows what to order).

Funny story. You need to use your aparthotel key to open the sliding doors to the building. Often, the person at the front desk will see you and open the doors for you. But in the event that they aren't there or are occupied, you can use your room key. So, I tried. Nothing. Try again. Nothing. Panic. And, oops! I was trying to use my Oyster Card (public transportation) instead of my room key. Doh! Only slightly embarrassing.

We enjoy a quiet dinner at home (while Venice drank juice in bed).

Venice is still not feeling better. It sure seems like the medication should have made a dent by now, but there's no difference. If anything, she feels like her tonsils are getting bigger. She is no longer vomiting, so that's a bonus. But, she's still not interested in eating or drinking. We're forcing her the best we can to get her to drink, drink, drink. I'm spending night with here again. Here's hoping for improvement tomorrow.

No comments:

Post a Comment