Our last day in London (alternatively titled: brrrrrrr)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Today we worked on what to do if (1) Sandy gets off at the wrong tube stop and (2) what to do if she stays on the tube and I accidentally get off without her.  In the first scenario, the answer is: stay where you are, don't move, and Jennifer will come find you.  In the second scenario, the answer is: "get off at the next stop -- then, stay where you are, don't move, and Jennifer will come find you.

Today was colder than yesterday, but that didn't stop us from spending the whole day in the city, which included a 3 hour private bus tour.  As the tour began at 8:45 am, Sandy asked the hotel to ring our room at 7:00 to make sure we were ready in time.  So when Sandy woke me up at 8:00, my response was, "Wow -- I can't believe the hotel forgot our wake-up call!"  She replied "They didn't.  They called.  You've been asleep for the past hour."  Whoops.  Luckily, I got ready in plenty of time and we were soon on our way to the tour of London.

We saw all the usual attractions, and while I think Sandy and I prefer to see Europe by our own agenda, the tour wasn't bad.  I hadn't ever been to St. Paul's Cathedral before, and I found it especially interesting that it was one of the only buildings in the area to survive the 1940 London fire (whereas Sweeney Todd's barber shop on Fleet Street did not).  The highlight of the tour was Sandy asking the tour guide if she could get married in the cathedral. The answer is no, she cannot.

After the tour, I insisted that we head straight to Notting Hill for the Saturday Portobello flea market -- the best time of my day.  This was my 3rd time to visit the market and I'd venture a guess that it will never get old (for me, at least).  Sandy and I managed to avoid making any purchases (the '1 checked bag only' restriction on our flight to Munich tomorrow having more effect than actual will power, though), but we spent 3-4 hours pursuing the booths nonetheless.  We stopped to eat the best meal of the trip (so far) at Falafel King.

After lunch, Sandy had her first experience with a public toilet!  A public toilet in London is a large red cylinder-looking structure with a button and a screen on the outside.  When you push the button, if the toilet is occupied, it will instruct you to "WAIT."  If the toilet is vacant, the door will automatically slide open and revel a single-person toilet 'station', if you will.  We are told that, in between occupants, water shoots through tiny holes in the floor to keep the room sanitary and clean.  Basically, we're talking about a port-a-potty but with so much class.  Sandy was initially reluctant to use it, because she thought it cost 20 pounds instead of 20 pence, but once she realized the difference, we rushed right over to stand in line.

While waiting in line, we met a nice young man -- also from the States (Chicago) -- waiting in line for the toilet as well.  When we discovered that he's studying abroad in London, and has been here for awhile already, Sandy began asking him a series of questions: (1) Have you ever used a public toilet before? (2) Will there be toilet paper when I get in there? (3) Is it scary? (4) Is it clean? (5) What happens if the door slides open while I'm sitting on the toilet? (6)  What happens if the jets of water shoot out of the floor while I'm sitting on the toilet and I get wet? (7) Are there paper towels, or a hand dryer?

Rest assured, she came in and out of the toilet quickly enough and there were no malfunctions with the toilet (or the door) (or the floor) whatsoever.

We then made our way out of the flea market and toward the tube and that's when we stopped in American Apparel...and that's also when the will-power ran out (for me, at least).  I bought a yellow circle scarf (I love their circle scarves) and justified it because I can wear it tomorrow when we fly and won't need to worry about packing it.  So there.

We met up at O'Neil's with Grace and her friend for dinner.  When it comes to restaurants/pubs, O'Neils is admittedly a really lame choice, in theory.  Mistake number one: it's a chain.  Mistake number two: if you tell locals that you're eating there, they'll laugh at you (this has happened to me, and yet I still have no shame).  But I really like their veggie burgers, and after taking bites out of mine last night, Sandy and Grace wanted to return to get one for themselves.  So, we made our 2nd trip there in 24 hours (it's right around the corner from the Jesmond Dene, which is how I initially discovered it).

During dinner, a man sitting directly across me in the restaurant pulled out his camera, smiled at me, and took no less than four pictures of what I can only imagine was me stuffing my face with food.  That was not my favorite part of the meal.

Now we are back in the hotel room and have said goodbye to Grace, as we head to Munich tomorrow at 5:00 am!

Currently listing to: 'On Top of the World' aka the The City theme song (Sandy, and only because Jennifer won't stop singing it, and also because we think it's about our lives right now) + 'Wicked Wisdom' by Of Montreal (Jennifer)

Quote of the day: "I don't even want to talk to you right now, I just want to enjoy every minute of this meal."  -- Sandy, while eating at Falafel King

Thankful for: falafel, new clothes, and the hours of exercise we got today (even though our energy levels are now totally depleted).




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