British Isles – Day 1: An Eye for London Bridges

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 Permalink 0


Surprise, I’m in the British Isles.

Well, the surprise really wasn’t about me.  My sisters decided to crash the 14 day excursion to the British Isles.  The surprise was for my parents, who were already booked on this trip with my dad’s sisters.  The four original Walsh sisters would be traveling with the next generation four Walsh sisters.  Although my sister Cindy was unable to make the voyage, it’s still cool that the bigger family is going back to our homeland.

The players…

mom and dad

Aunt Micki, doubling as the tour guide

Aunt Peggy

Aunt Sue and Uncle Rog

Aunt Laura





Originally, Jenny want to surprise mom and dad at O’Hare airport.  We decided that that kind of surprise is too much for a 77 year old woman.  So, we told her on Mother’s Day.  The three of us put copies of our passports in her card.  She didn’t get it because frankly the idea was too grand altogether to imagine.  There were tears and hollers after the big reveal.  A trip of a lifetime traveling with my immediate family and my extended family. 

And shew!  The secrecy was over.  I had worried I would accidentally spill the beans for a couple of months. So many times, I almost casually referenced to mom in a phone chat.  I’m a storyteller.  I like to talk about the next big adventure.  With the parents brought into the loop, I could converse freely.  I was relieved to be able to blog in anticipation of the trip. 

Then, Jenny decided that she would like to surprise the aunts at Heathrow airport.  They were flying in from California, Oregon and Alaska.  She made me promise not to blog about the trip until after that surprise.  My Aunt Laura is one of my blog subscribers.  I was still on shut down until we made personal contact.  I didn’t like it but it only makes sense that the lady paying gets to call the shots.

We had a direct flight Chicago to London. Of my few trips to London, this flight time was ideal.  9:40pm!  A few glasses of wine and I slept for 3-4 hours of the 8 hour excursion.  I finally saw “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”  It was a pleasant flight except for my seat mate who applied and re-applied and re-applied Vicks Vapor Rub behind her ears and below her nose.  Is this a new travel thing to help sleep?  It’s a fairly rude invasion of my  nasal passages in such close quarters.  When we arrived in Heathrow, customs was fairly quick and easy.  The line really did form behind us.

A bus ride into the city got us to the Hilton Metropole in less than hour.  Unfortunately, the ICANN50 convention is swarming the hotel.  (As a new 50 year old, I embrace the “I CANN 50” attitude.)  Only half of our tour were able to check in right away.  My sisters and I drew the short stick. We ended up waiting it out in the sports pub.  

With the delay in check-in and then waiting on our luggage, we didn’t get our adventure going until circa 4:30.  Jenny and I rode the tube to the Westminster Station to ride the London Eye.  Neither she nor I had ever had the pleasure.  The ride was smooth.  And the view spectacular.  The cityscape of London is a blend of modern and traditional.  The Parliament is this marveling, political fortress in the forefront.  In the background, you can see all these cranes building the future.  Yet, it’s the history that grounds the city unforgettably.  

Jenny and I finished the revolution and then walked across another bridge into another neighborhood.  It had started raining so we ducked into the Sherlock Holmes Pub.  We shared a table with a few locals who encouraged us to go upstairs and see the Sherlock exhibit.  The pub had set aside an entire room for a museum style look at the famous detective’s study.  

We ended up taking a black cab back to our hotel.  After a sip and nibble in the lobby lounge, I was asleep by 10am.          



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