London, real time updates. Sept 2022.

Tracy,

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ok, so I haven’t caught up to real time/still have several small domestic trips to blog about. But since I’m off using my passport for the first time in a few years, I’m just continuing my journey of growth and learning to accept imperfections. And so here I’ll be posting my occasional stream of consciousness updates during this European journey. Basically I made a few random notes and observations, and am dumping it all here. Hopefully it’s relatively coherent. 🙂

There was a Geocaching british couple on plane next to us. She had nails with the logo decal. Apparently it was the 20 yr anniversary event in Seattle. (None of the flight staff had heard of geocaching and kept coming by to ask them questions about it).Revivals lounge is brilliant. Shower at airport after a long international flight. Refreshed indeed.

The self checkout lines at uk immigration were super fasy and easy. No passport stamp, though, which is always a bummer. Not enough of one to stand in the VERY LONG line for those not eligible for automated immigration (which includes any families with kids uber 12…ya know, those least able to wait for another hour after getting off an international flight). And I also wasn’t convinced, even if we’d chosen to wait in the long line, that they’d have given me a stamp in any case. So my new passport (renewed during season 2 of Covid) remains blank. Maybe entering the EU later in this trip will trigger a stamp. *Fingers crossed*

i feel like this lady is probably coughing covid everywhere

Dropped our luggage and wandered Covent Garden area. Six the musical was literally down the street from our hotel. Popped in around 1pm to see if they had any availability for next few shows. He tells us they just got a pair returned for main floor center for the 4pm show. Okay!!Empowered feminine everywhere. Girl gang groups out for a night of drinking. Six musical audience overwhelmingly female. All female band and women running sound lights and Stage managing, too! During the show, someone says “there’s a bigger problem here” and Catherine of Aragon responds, “Yeah, the dissolution of the monasteries!” and I laughed so loudly. I was the only one. And I don’t care. Hilarious. Hope someone in the production appreciated my response, at least. It’s a good on-brand joke for her.

Downside of wheeled carry-on vs backpack (2 wheeled bags while doing all the stairs and escalators at the Tube). Hadn’t considered that when I picked my luggage. D’oh! It’s been so long since I’ve done a “multiple locations” trip with public transit, that I just grabbed the wheelie bags. Ah well, getting a workout. And Erin is So BRAVE (ie doesn’t have my lifelong fear/concern about escalators, so she’s bravely carried my smaller carry-on wheel bag on those for me).

Barcone restaurant had a picture window where you could see them hand making pasta, and they had gf pasta available.

It’s trendy and we didn’t have reservations but they got spot at shared table. Approachable price point , too. As they set down our entree, our server says it’s wrong/not gf. So we wait 20 min and finally get our food. We were fine waiting. Both a bit tired and out of it. I realize that I’m laughing in the face of jet lag by ordering a bowl of carbs and a negroni cocktail before going to see a show. Sleepy? I’m not scared!!! Then they bring us complimentary lemoncello because of messed up order. Nice but not helping me stay awake.Check in at hotel and quick shower (I’m allergic to the body wash from airport shower. getting hives. Yikes) Erin does a power nap. Then off to the show.

So many bachelorette parties. And groups with all female kids. Middle school gals which is great. The four kids under 8 in sequin gowns felt maybe too young, but whatever. 🙂 Hope they had fun. I was literally falling asleep before the show starts. I’m a bit worried. But the curtain goes up and it’s non stop Energy! Loved it. Surprisingly even made me cry a little. All that Girl Power on stage and all female band, and still some residual post pandemic strong”I’ve missed this” energy. Plus the jet lag contributing to my emotional fragility. But my mask helps soak up the tears. Ha. (Also, I recognize we ain’t post the pandemic. We’re just post anyone doing anything about it. *Sad* We were two of maybe secen people total on the main floor wearing masks in theatre. Similarly only 2 of a handful on the Tube. This is a city that’s truly “over it” in vibes. But that’s not how viruses work. *Sigh* I wonder how much having national health care changes the personal math, too? At least it’s not medical bill risk? Still long covid could have you losing your job, eh? Ah well.

Wandering the area after. A bit jet lag loopy but knowing it’s too early for bed yet at only 5:30pm. Cute outdoor drinks at fabulously decorated gay friendly bar. The area is swarming with bachelorette parties. Place seemed so relieved we were just a party of two. Ha. So many bridal parties out on a Saturday night in Covent Garden area. But the one that stole my heart was the drunken bridal party singing “I’m getting married in the morning.” And then they made friends with the bridal party carrying the inflatable naked male sex doll.

Found burger place with gf options (not as clearly marked at all the restaurants as I’d anticipated. Vegan and halal called out on most menus but gf only about 1/3 of the time). Got takeout. Back to hotel by 7:30pm to get ready for bed-ish. Ha. Which is now why I’m up 3:30am. Gonna try to go back to sleep now.

the next morning, had the fanciest Full English Breakfast ever. Beans politely contained in this little cup. And brown sauce served in a tiny “hotel room service” style individual bottle. Quite tasty, and Indigo had gluten free options for Erin.

Tower tour. Beefeater telling of william penn in prison and then finding someone in the group from pennsylvania. He shows where the bell was made. ‘And then we gave you the bell, and you broke it. Just like you did with our language! Ha. Actually, I’m a Geordie. I don’t have any right making fun of the way anyone speaks English.’ In the white tower, looking at armor. A British gent to his 6 yr old son. “James II. That’s a good name for a king, don’t you think? James.” The boy, “um, yeah, but… maybe not for You to be king.”

French tourists at crown jewels display saying, unironically, “oh la la” over and over. 🙂

Saw a young woman actually step on a pigeon. Both were very surprised. Flurry of feathers and activity. She was on her phone and pigeon was presumably also not paying attention. Happily both seemed relatively unharmed.Weirdest optical illusion moment.

Wandering the Thames. Southwark Cathedral to see the Shakespeare stained glass window. Also saw cat confidently trotting down the pews. Apparently Hodge the cathedral cat is also famous!!

Prosecco spritzers in “to go” cups as we wander Borough Market.

At Palace of Westminster, approaching sunset, all these people of the world setting up tripods and selfie sticks. Although clouds rolling in and gonna ruin that sunset view. In any case, I looked up at the clock face on tower and it looked like the clock hands were spinning out of control. Totally freaked me out for a moment. Hallucination? Is this a movie? Someone changed something in the multiverse? Nope. A big bird just happened to be flying past at exact right location/placement that their wing flaps looked like the clock face arms. Freaky. Probably not exciting to read about, but was cool to see.

V&A museum. Bookcase belonging to Samuel Pepys. I say his name aloud. Erin “who?” Me “I know him!” she gives me a look. “I mean, I know OF him. and his famous diary. Ha.” (Then I had to Google to double-check that he Was that dude with the famously detailed diary).

Pepys bookshelf

Fancy Afternoon Tea at the Rosebery Rooms off Hyde Park.

ABBA EXPERIENCE. Expected: sequins and spandex and pantsuits. Unexpected: the amount of full on Cosplay recreations. Scottish woman behind me who keeps repeating “so excited. So excited. So excited” waiting for it to start. Apparently this venue trusts all these people with actual glassware and champagne flutes. Seems like a dodgy prospect to me. Fake alder trees with piped in bird song and fake snowfall. Hello Sweden. Strict No Phones policy. Fascinating watching the security and staff enforce this. They were really good about it. Until, near the end, Dancing Queen comes on. Everyone loses their minds and the dance pit section is suddenly Full of everyone filming. Too overwhelming to be controlled. The show was very fun. The hologram technology was amazing. The people sized projections performing on stage looked so real (having distance from the images helped). But they’d also have giant filmed versions on the side screens. And those still had some of the uncanny valley effects. Around eyes and mouth. And especially the women’s hair. The movements and facial expressions often felt like a good video game, but not real. I’d have preferred, if they didn’t have the tech to perfect it, that they not make videos of them in such extreme closeup. But everyone else seemed fine with it.Fun as some of the ushers also acted as Hypemen, dancing up and down the aisles encouraging crowd arm waves and other things. As long as you decide to have a good time, you will. If you’re not interested, then you won’t likely have fun.

Final London day was wandering around. No destination or goals in mind. Honestly killing time until time to take the tube to Heathrow at 3pm. But it was nice. Saw a black sawn at St James park. We mostly lucked out on avoiding the rains. Then airport lounge, which is always more pleasant than regular airport. Less crowded, too. And our gate had animal friends at it on the wall.

Besties!

Flight wasn’t officially delayed when we boarded. But we had to wait an hour on board for luggage to arrive, then 30 min because we lost our place in line for takeoff. But they turned off seatbelt sign and let people wander. :)-Porto flight has female captain, which is cool. And handing out two 180 ml wine bottles with dinner. Erin’s gf meal included these gf flat “oatcakes.” Her face, after a bite, was not encouraging. “It tastes like nothing. Dry nothing.” I point out her copious red wine and suggest she enjoy her own “mid flight Eucharist experience.” Ha. (She ended up just using some butter). Thanks London, it’s been real.

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