So where was I? Oh, yes, the trip. Let’s break it down into categories.
I like subways. I think they’re fun. So I didn’t mind that our apartment in London was far enough away from the main attractions that we needed to hop on the Underground every time we went out. It helped that our daughter spent time in London during an overseas-study-in-France-program a couple of years ago, and knew how to navigate them. She was a great leader. A great leader who walked fast (must be something “they” are taught in overseas preparation school) even though her normal speed might be considered, um, less-than-speedy.
We also used the “Metro” in Paris, but might have ended up in Norway had she not been there to interpret the more complicated subway system. So can I get a what-what for our daughter?? WHAT, WHAT?!?!?
Yes, we used subways, but still had to walk to subway stations. And once you are in them, you must walk up and down many flights of stairs, not something we are used to in the Motor City where we love our vehicles with the four wheels that take you places.
On our last full day in London, we rode the tube to High Kensington Street, ate at Sticky Fingers Cafe (Bill Wyman’s restaurant; Wyman is a former member of the Rolling Stones), walked further east to Kensington Palace where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (William and Kate, for the uninitiated) live with their two adorable royal babies, took a less-than-hour tour (ideal for us attention-challenged Houghtons), walked through Kensington Gardens (by this time it was dark; dark starts at 4:00), had little idea of our destination, crossed over into Hyde Park (a fun walk in the evening – lots of swans), found a path through to the city – and by the city I mean sidewalks, buildings, stores, holiday lights – and then suddenly, there she was: HARRODS. The most famous department store in the world.
Unfortunately, it was the day after Boxing Day (a national holiday in the U.K., Boxing Day is the day after Christmas notable for huge retail markdowns), and the day after Boxing Day (which isn’t a national holiday) is apparently no different. Why, people were shoved like sardines in that most famous department store, at which point we decided we were either thirsty or hungry and ready to call it a day.
Apartments – AKA, cultural differences, or, my favorite part of traveling
Europeans live smaller than Americans. Smaller living spaces, fewer luxuries, and they hang dry their clothes. So it takes some getting used to, spoiled as we are by the good, old American lifestyle. Still, it’s interesting to adapt.
I could get real picky and list things that need improvement (recalling my days as a so-called manufacturing engineer at Unisys where we constantly tinkered with process). But if you can pardon the potty talk, so what if the toilet seats weren’t as comfortable as ours, or that, in the Paris flat, you had to hold the “handle” down until everything flushed? Or that your cardio-vascular system was challenged by the four flights of stairs up to the apartment every time you returned? These are things you adapt to as guests of a society that hasn’t caught up to the U.S., er, has a different set of standards. Or isn’t as litigious. Or something.
We all liked the apartments. But it’s good to be home.
If you aren’t bored out of your mind, stay tuned for part three.
And if you missed part one, here ’tis.