Sunday, June 29

Well, the day finally arrived! After nine months of detailed planning and tremendous anticipation, we left the comfort of our home, family and friends to begin what we hope will be the adventure of a lifetime. Our last days at home were spent completing final details around the house and packing for the final time. We also had the opportunity to spend a morning with Jennifer Coveny from TravelingEd, and created an introductory video which will appear on the TravelingEd site for classrooms to view. Packing was an adventure. We committed long ago to pack lightly - that meant one roller bag and one backpack for each of us. We had completed several trial runs to make sure everything fit, but for our final pack it seemed that our belongings had grown. After a few adjustments, everything eventually fit, and we were ready to go.

The flight to London was a good one. It was hard to sleep - we were all very excited. We arrived at 7:00AM, and made our way from London's Heathrow airport on the Underground to our hotel in central London (Marriott Marble Arch). We knew that espite our lack of sleep, it would be important to stay awake as long as possible for the first day - we wanted to get over our jet lag as quickly as possible. ~Steve

After checking into our hotel and cleaning up, we went to an extremely fancy restaurant called Mirabella with some friends (Brett, Jim and Jim's daughters Lydia and Madeline) of one of my Dad's college friends. This restaurant gave us a taste of real European dining. This restaurant's meals were in three courses, including dessert. The waiters never left us alone. The minute one piece of silverware or plate was dirty, it was replaced instantly. After the second course, they scraped all the crumbs off the table, and made sure it was as good as new. During the beginning of the meal, the waiters put a folded napkin on our laps, and gave us either still or sparkling water. The think I found most interesting about this restaurant, was that there were two full pages of wine in tiny font that ranged in price from 20 pounds to over 30,000 pounds! There were 10 times as many choices of wine on the menu as there were meals! We also got the chance to try some different food. We tried skate wing (something we catch often in Cape Cod Bay and throw back-considering them "junk fish" and our arch enemy) which was very good, and Yorkshire pudding, which was crispy and tasted like bread. They also served cheese for dessert! The food and restaurant were fabulous, and we can't wait to eat out again! ~David

Lydia, who was only four years old, was very outgoing and social. She taught us many new words and phrases commonly used in England and plopped right down in our laps. People living in London talk using much more formal English than in the United States and have a distinct accent. We listened to Lydia talk about movies she saw, activities she does and of other random subjects. She spoke of her trousers (what we would call pants), her wardrobe (what we would call closet) as well as her mates (or friends). We heard many different phrases as well such as "spot of tea," as an invitation for a cup of tea and on the subways, "mind the gap" which cautioned us to be careful. ~Katie

After lunch, we decided to spend the rest of the afternoon walking through London. We started in Green Park, which was filled with people soaking up the sun, playing cricket and football (soccer). With London's notoriously rainy weather, we suspected that people are eager to take advantage of warm, summer days. We then walked to the Buckingham Palace area. On Sundays, he roads around the palace are all closed to motor vehicles, so it's very nice for walking. The Palace is very impressive from the outside, but is closed to visitors until later in the summer. It was fun to see the guards, and saw a changing of the guard. We then walked through St. James' Park, on our way to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.

On the way, we stopped at the Cabinet War Rooms Museum, which was used by Winston Churchill and his staff during the German bombing raids on London during World War II. The rooms where Churchill lived, worked and met with his cabinet have all been left as they were in 1940 - including the tables, chairs, equipment and supplies. It was fascinating to look at these rooms and imagine what it must have been like during the actual raids on London. We then made our way for a quick viewing of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. For today, we decided to just see what these look like from the outside. We hope to come back for more time later in the week. However, we were exhausted from our long night of travel and first day in London, so we took the Underground back to our hotel for the evening. ~Steve

Distance Walked: 5.34 miles












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