Monday, February 19, 2007

Aliza’s trip part 1: London, baby

It's only someone who annually flies directly to Israel who could call a 6.5 hour flight "short" but such was my experience. On the plane, one appalling airline meal, one mediocre Robin Williams movie and two hours of sleep later, we were almost in London. I was amazed at how quickly it went, and then we landed on schedule. And sat on the runway for 45 minutes. Eventually, though, they let the plane taxi to the terminal, and I arrived to an extraordinarily short customs line. As late as I was, though, NML was later.

Since I didn't know if I could find her, I sat near the mothership (Starbucks in airport terminal), and knew she'd be able to find me. (That's not exactly how it happenened, but a funnier recounting of events.) When Hami arrived, I scared her to death by jumping out from behind her. We sat, had coffee, tried to figure out how to best the evil foreign exchange people who take a too-large commission for their surly attitudes, and ate yummy tuna sandwiches. (Being women on Rosh Chodesh, and all, benching was in order.)

Then NML introduced me to the vagaries of the tube. I was fine; she was not. We discovered this with me inside the nice gates and her on the outside of the nice gates. Fortunately this was resolved quite quickly, and I discovered how lovely the tube really is, and how stereotypically British some British people look. We took the Picadilly line to Knightsbridge, and walked briskly and efficiently around Hyde Park long enough to comment upon the length of the line for the men's room, the man-made-ness of the little lake called Serpentine, and to discover that my camera's battery had died a short and hopefully painless death overnight. Baruch dayan haemet. Thank goodness NML brought her camera. After Hyde Park, we walked towards Buckingham palace, and took more pictures. We also tried to figure out who the various women represented on the huge statue in front, and decided that if it were Florence or Cracow, they'd be the virgin Mary, but here in England, at least one was Queen Victoria. The other three remain a mystery. We then walked via St. James Park to Big Ben and Parliament, and I had NML take pictures from afar. Then, when we got to the tube station there, I pronounced us "done". N inquired "Don't you want to go closer?" I asked why and she replied "to see it from closer." I really don't get the tourist thing some times.

Then we headed off, from Westminster to my favorite (right near Nehama!) King's Cross station, whose wise officials have lately taken to putting up a fake platform 9 ¾, complete with a trolley that's supposed to be half through the wall. Now I can die happy, as I have been to where Harry Potter was. Just kidding, poo poo poo, ad meah ve'esrim and punch the evil eye in the nose, etc.

Of course, though it was only about 1:15, we were hungry and headed off for lunch to Golders Green. Then, after an unexceptional meal, we went back to NML's place so I could take a much needed nap. While NML wrote a paper, I slept and got ready to head out, then we caught a double decker bus to the subway and took shameless tourist photos en route, stopping at Covent gardens to see the open-air market, some semi-talented buskers and the royal opera house. I saw there was a theatre museum, and was sad we didn't go, until we saw that it had been closed for renovations since January. Then we got to the airport at long last (an outdated New Yorker and crossword puzzle later for myself and Hami respectively) and we parted ways. Oh, and Nehama solved my battery problem. Now I am no longer carrying a lens-laden paperweight. Tourism is fun.

Biggest challenge today: Getting my purse and all its contents into my backpack. Now, a la Gordon Korman, my next challenge is to cram a Jeep into a teapot.

Sleep count: 4 hours today

Fun people count: 1 – Hami!



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