But not me…
After a good night’s rest, I woke up raring to go somewhere. First stop, as always, had to be Starbucks. Fortunately, there is one located across the street from the hotel. It was unfortunate however as it wasn’t open until 9am (reminiscent of Australia where the coffee shops didn’t open before 9 on Sunday morning either. I think they the whole point of coffee in the morning). Instead I decide to hop the train and head for Westminster Abbey and a walk along the Thames. It was blissfully quiet as most were still snuggled in their beds (although I saw a few who hadn’t quite made it home yet) as I hopped on the Tube to head out. There was virtually no one at Westminster station when I stepped off the train – can’t forget to “mind the gap” –and found it somewhat eerie to be at such a large station and not see a single sole. Once I came out from the Underground I saw a few early birds out meandering around. This is when I actually felt like I was in London as I gazed up at Big Ben. I walked around Parliament a bit before crossing the street to Westminster Abbey. There were a few more people milling around but no one was allowed to go inside. After all, it is still a church and it was Sunday. There are services every week so tourists aren’t allowed inside. No matter, I have been there several times. I made my way back across the bridge to the other side of the Thames. Per usual, I always manage to find a tough spot to cross the road. I went down by the river thinking the path went under the bridge but no such luck. I decided not to take any chances so I walked back across the bridge to cross the road using the crosswalk and proceeded back across the road. At that point I realized there was a crosswalk 100 feet away from where I turned around. Whatever. I burned a few extra calories I’m sure. I passed the London Eye (which frankly is a bit of an eye sore but I’m sure the view is great), the London Aquarium, and a hospital. There was a man dressed up as Charlie Chaplin selling London souvenirs from a cart. There were a couple of runners out and a few stragglers from the night before but mostly it was a peaceful walk and thankfully not raining. My destination was St Pauls Cathedral where I would catch the Tube back to the hotel. So I thought. Of course, there was a major renovation going on. There was notice and diversion (detour). Silly me! I assumed that it would be well marked for tourists. When I first turned away from the river, I saw two signs indicating the way which assured me this would be a ‘piece of cake.’ I was careful to keep an eye out for additional signs but never saw another one and eventually realized I was getting further away from the river and no indications whatsoever that I was actually still on the diversion. As it turns out I was completely off track in some random neighbourhood full of pubs and shops, all closed. I assumed I would figure it out somehow (was hesitant to pull out a map to actually find out where I was – maybe I was a man in another life as I loathe using a map and looking like I don’t know where I’m going) – but luck was on my side and I did run into an Underground station. It was London Bridge not St Paul’s but all well that ends well. Once I was back underground, it was easy to find my way back to St Pancras and my hotel.
In the meantime, Bethany sent me a text letting me know she landed at Heathrow and was making her way to the hotel via the train. I managed to beat her to the hotel (easier for me since I didn’t have a heavy bag). Upon her arrival she stowed her bags and we headed out for a quick lunch. I was suddenly energized after my excursion but she was ready to pass out (I knew exactly how she felt!). I suggested finding a cafe at the train station since it was close by and raining [again] to kill time until her room was prepared. After lunch and a little grocery shopping (fruit, water and such), her room was ready for occupancy so she decided to take a shower and relax for a bit. Still having the itch to be out, I decided to make the most of what little free time I had and headed back to the Tube for Piccadilly Circus. I left Kings Crossing in the sun and came up a few stops later in the pouring rain. The area is full of tourists who seemed surprised that the black clouds produced water. Duh! They were scattering like cockroaches back into whatever hole they came out of. It was pleasant to walk down the street without the jostling and getting poked by umbrellas and such. Even so, I did manage to get rather wet again but did not let it deter me from doing a bit of sightseeing. I walked to Trafalgar Square then made my way around the Admirality Arch, The New Scotland Yard, Clarence House – you get the picture. The sun did make an appearance so the umbrella went into the bag for all of ten minutes before another swell went by. By this time I had stopped for some ice cream so managing an umbrella with dish of ice cream was not easy but I somehow managed. Once again, the tourists disappeared into doorways, under awnings or open stores. There were teenagers who seemed to enjoy getting soaked but that is not my cup of tea (even if it is the thing to do in England, I do not do tea!).
It was getting later on in the afternoon by now and I thought it was strange I hadn’t heard from Bethany. I decided to head back so I’d be ready to meet again for dinner since I was getting tired and knew Bethany would want to make it an early night. Or so I thought. Turns out she took a nap and whilst I was ready to wind down, she was getting started. We headed out at half past seven and found a nearby pub. We wanted to watch the final of the Women’s World Cup, Japan verses the USA. The Euston Flyer looked as good as any other pub so we ventured inside. It was quite rowdy since the game had started. There was definitely a good many people cheering for the USA but a small contingency of Japanese were rooting for their side. It was a great place to sit back and watch not only the game but the people as well. When the USA did well, the crowd would start yelling “U-S-A” in their British accents, but when Japan did well the Japanese would jump up and scream in Japanese, hugging each other and jumping up and down. They definitely had a lot more passion. As we all know, it was a heart breaker for the USA team as they lost in penalty kicks. Because we don’t normally watch soccer, we spend a good part of the night googling the rules and regulations of world cup soccer. Not as easy to find as I would have thought but we finally were able to figure out the overtime rules through a link sent by CNN on Twitter (which I’m beginning to rely on more and more for the most up-to-date information). Turned out to be a rather long day for me but all-in-all, a good day.