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Random thoughts at sea

London has always been one of our favorites cities. It was the first international city we visited many years ago. We were fascinated with it then and that fascination has never waned. It has so many things to do and see that we doubt we will ever tire of London.

We found several new sites this trip but still wanted to see some of our all-time favorites. We stood again in front of Buckingham palace with thousands of others. We walked by the London Eye and looked at Big Ben which, unfortunately was shrouded in scaffolding as part of a repair/maintenance project.

Imperial War Museum

London, sadly, has seen several terrorist attacks in recent years. That means security was enhanced and police were ever present. As we walked along Westminster Bridge, we wondered why the crowd was slowing to a crawl. The reason: Huge iron barriers at either end of the bridge designed to let pedestrians pass but prevent vehicles from being on the walk. Sad to see this beautiful city forced to take such dramatic action to prevent further terrorist attacks.

I can't say enough about the London transportation system. Our hotel was within about a quarter mile of three tube stops with two more slightly farther away. Descending the very steep escalator to the platform never gets old for me. Trying to get onto a packed tube car, however, is not fun. Even though some of the cars were packed to almost overflowing, there was an unwritten order to the chaos. I did feel sorry for the riders who were carrying their luggage on. Definitely not something we wanted to do.

I'm not a big theater goer, but London has numerous shows designed to appeal to a broad section of Londoners and tourists. When were thinking about going to a show, we looked online at the various options and decided (actually I cajoled Ellen) on “Bat Out Of Hell.” Based on the album released 50 years ago, it was spectacular! Of course, the music was wonderful but the staging and overall performance were fantastic. From our front row seats in the balcony we had a great view of the stage. And, it turned out that the lead, Andrew Polec, is a fellow Pennsylvanian from Philadelphia. We did decide that sometime in the next several years we will return to London and spend all of our time going to shows, maybe even “BOOH” again.

Once we got onboard our ship, the Royal Princess, we were surprised by the size of our cabin. We are in an interior and it feels as spacious as any of the balcony rooms we've ever had. After the smallness of our hotel room in London, this cabin feels huge. And it's great for sleeping because it is very dark. The downside to that, however, is it doesn't induce you to get up. {Ellen's note: this is especially true for Pete!]

London does museums well, including some that we had never heard about. We were watching a documentary last Monday night and saw some information about the Imperial War Museum. We changed our plans for the day and went there. It was worth the change. The five-story facility housed numerous exhibits and items fromWorld War I through more recent conflicts. The WWI section was especially impressive. And it was free. One part of the exhibit was giving visitors the opportunity to meet with survivors of WWII. Listening to them recount their lives during the war and the attacks on London gave you a personal perspective that books or other materials can't convey. Worth a visit.

London is growing, evident by the ubiquitous cranes and scaffolding visible throughout the city. With land scarce and at a premium, the only way to grow is up. While it's understandable, it does distract from the city's beauty.

I do have sad news. In an earlier blog about sounds, I mentioned the set of luggage wheels I saw when walking around London.Well, one of our large suitcases now has a broken set of wheels. They may hang in there until we get home, but I think they will make their escape before we get there. They did serve us well, so no regrets.

The weather has not been the best, with rain and some cold temperatures. Let's hope the weather changes and the trip continues.

Till the next time...

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