Saturday, November 14, 2015

Day 93: A Rainy Day

The morning after Paris.

We woke up later in the morning than we planned. I gave Venice some medicine and worked on the blog, while Xander created animation sequences on the computer and Chris slept a bit longer. By the time we were dressed and fed, it was time to get going on our final things to do and see for the day.

Chris and I walked back to the walk-in clinic to get a refill for Venice's medicine. I had lost the receipt (and my mind) but it's all ok. They just look her up by the bottle we bring in and her last name. Refilling will be done. However, because it's a mixture that needs to be refrigerated, they give us the medicine in powder form, asking us to add 18ml of water when ready to mix. But what is 18ml? How does one measure this when traveling? They, brilliantly, measure out 18 ml of water (tap water, I might add) into an extra bottle so we know exactly how much to mix.

We stop in the market on the way home and pick up a few more items to tantalise Venice into eating, like pudding! And we walk home in the off-and-on drizzle.

We have a few things we'd like to do on our last day, here in London. Mainly to see the Borough Market, The Tower Bridge, The London Tower, and the London Eye. It's doable, and we set out, after a quick snack.

To maximise our time, we call an Uber car to get us to the Borough Market. We can take the Tube, but Venice has decided to rally and come with us. She's moving very slowly, taking someone's arm for most of her walking efforts. We figure, we can save time and her energy if we take an Uber car to our first destination.

Our Uber car arrives, while Chris is having the front desk print out our pre-purchased London Eye tickets. So, we wait for a bit in the car. Then we're off... or are we? As we head towards the river, traffic gets thick. Our driver comments how certain streets are closed off. Oh, and that one's closed too. Hmm, so's that one. We are basically stuck with a 100 other cars that didn't know half the streets are closed (construction?). Finally, it seems we get past the construction only to find more closed off streets, for "no one knows why". Our driver says they weren't closed this morning when he was here earlier. So, why? I wonder, out loud, if the queen went by or something. He did say there was a motorcade. I wonder if it's related to Paris. At this point, Chris mentions one of the festivals was cancelled (or postponed) due to the events in Paris. In the end, we still don't know why all these roads were closed.

In the meantime, it's raining, so we can't really have the windows open too much. The driver keeps it very warm in there. It's a bit uncomfortable in there. Venice actually takes a few cat naps, her body is so tired. I keep turning on Google Maps and watching where we're going, constantly wondering where the heck we ARE going as it seems we are only getting farther away from our destination.

After an HOUR of this, we finally decide to get out of the dang Uber and just take the Tube, thinking we should have done that in the first place. What a waste of an hour and ££. Bright side? Venice got more sleep?

So, we take the Tube to the Borough Market, which means we have to walk a little bit, because you can only get so close. It's not a big deal, this is how it's been our entire trip, however, when someone is sick and moving slowly AND it's raining... it can kind of suck (thus our attempt at using an Uber car). We walk slowly in the rain towards our destination.

The Tower Bridge (left), Venice in front of a City of London sign (right). 

We walk across the London Bridge and catch a rainy glimpse of the Tower Bridge. I liken my experience to when I saw the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Something I have seen over and over before, but seeing it in person, surprisingly, took my breath away. It was really beautiful (and real!) in the rain. Sparkling in the distance (even though my photos make it look dark and dingy).

Venice and me on the London Bridge (left)
Chris and Xander on the London Bridge with the Shard in the background (right)

We don't linger on the London Bridge, due to the rain. We push on towards the Borough Market. I didn't know much about this market, other than several people have suggested we go and check it out, that it's a cool place to go. Turns out, it's also similar to Pike's Market in Seattle (someone else said this). It's an open air market under the aboveground railways. There are tons of food cards, craft stalls, and lots of "hanging out" spots.

The Borough Market

However, due to today's rain, there are a lot of empty-wet tables and people are all crowding into the areas that are covered. Trying not to poke anyone with an umbrella or ducking around with jacket hoods pulled over our heads, we don't get to enjoy the atmosphere as much as if we had come on a dryer day. Our tour of the area is quick and then we're ready to settle in for lunch (it's also very late due to our traffic snafu).

The fish! restaurant. Xander ready to dig in (left),
rain on the roof (middle), the food prep area (right)

By the time we sit down to order, it's 2:51pm. Sigh. We have to reassess what we can do in the next few hours. The Tower Bridge closes at 5pm, London Tower at 4:30pm, and we have purchased open tickets for the London Eye. We do not think we can eat and arrive in time for the Tower Bridge or London Tower, so we are conceding those. We already have tickets to the London Eye so that is what we'll do after we eat.

Venice mostly hangs out as company with us, as food is still unappetising to her. Chris, Xander, and I all order fish and chips (on my Bingo list!) along with mushy peas (they're not good... only the mushy peas in Prague have been good, and those were amazing!) Xander ordered cod, Chris ordered halibut, and I ordered haddock. The food is large and we stuff ourselves with the yummy food, tasting each other's choice of fish.

Someone suggested we try a coffee place in the Borough Market, so we went to get a cup before we headed to the London Eye. As we walked through the market, we walked through a tunnel-hallway. One entire side of the hallway was painted with blackboard paint and had the permanent words, "Before I die, I want to". There were several pieces of chalk on the ground ready for anyone to add to the wall what they wanted to do. I love this concept! What fun! We almost didn't walk this way and I'm glad we did. There were several others there as we approached, writing their own words. The kids joined. Venice wrote, "Make a homeless shelter" and Xander signs his name. There is one prominent writing that says, "Pray for Paris".

Public Chalkboard

The coffee was a fun establishment, completely open on one side of the store. It was definitely crowded and we had to wait in the queue. The kids waited outside. We sipped our caffeine goodness and were ready to head to the London Eye.

We slowly made our way back to the Tube, passing the Waterloo station again. Cool! Next time I'd like to go in and look around. It is one of the 15th busiest terminals in Europe and is huge inside. Lots of movies have been filmed here, etc. Next time!

A wall and doors before getting into the train. You still must mind the gap,
but I guess it keeps you from falling onto the tracks when there is no train there.

When we arrive at the London Eye, we figure out the line to enter. Since we purchased Flexi tickets ahead of time, we get to go into the shorter line. The regular line doesn't seem to be too long. Each capsule holds about 25 people, so it moves pretty quickly. However, seeing as Venice isn't 100%, it's completely worth our Flexi tickets so that we can get into the shorter line and we walk right onto the next Capsule.

We had read about the London Eye ahead of time. We knew that it rarely stops. The wheel spins slowly (one rotation in about 30 minutes) and is slow enough for people to hop on and hop off at the bottom. I'm not sure we had to hurry as much as we did, but there's definitely a feeling of hurry up and get into the capsule or you'll be left behind or dangling or... They do slow it down or stop it if you are in a wheelchair or less steady on your feet. We all successfully get on (just with a little bit of a thrill thinking we might not make it).

The London Eye lit up in French colours.

View (top), Venice is grateful for a seat (left), Big Ben (middle)
Xander is grateful for the digital view (right)

More French colours. London Eye (left and right), National Theatre (middle)

Big Ben, again (top-left), Venice sitting, again (top-right)
Chris and Venice looking at the view (bottom-left), Xander and I being the view (bottom-middle)
A capsule about to be on the bottom where people will get off (bottom-right)

By the time we get off the London Eye, the regular line is almost gone. I'm surprised. It's a Saturday night, why wouldn't you want to ride the London Eye at night? Seems romantic. Perhaps it's because it's raining? I was impressed that even in the dark and rain, we were able to enjoy the view.

We head home. Venice is super tired by now. We're a little nervous to try another Uber car, so we go home on our own via the Tube. I tried to carry Venice piggy-back, but wow... she's gotten too big. I make it one block and have to give up. We walk slowly, arm-in-arm, instead.

Venice goes straight to bed when we get back. Chris, Xander, and I have a simple dinner at home, eating through some of the food we have left (e.g. pasta, lettuce, deli meats, etc.)

We begin to pack for our trip to Scotland tomorrow. Trying to pack smartly, too. Pack everything into one bag that we won't need to get to at all (until we're back home). Pack other bags with dirty clothes that won't be opened. And the other ones with just the right amount of clothes we need for the rest of the trip. All the while, trying to keep the big bag not too full (so we make the weight limit at the airport). Having shipped so many items, we don't have too much to pack, so it doesn't take too long to get it all gathered up. We are ready.

Good-night, London!

Of course they have a camera on the Eye, ready to take your photo for a price!
We didn't really buy many souvenirs in London, so I splurge on this goofy photo,
taken with complete strangers.

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