Pre-tour:  Los Angeles to London

Lots of hotties on my flight to London, including one two seats away in my row.  There was also a tall rocker type who looked like a cross between Ed Shemansky (former coworker) and Eddie Money.  Or maybe just Ed Shemansky with longer hair and groovier sideburns.

I got absolutely no sleep on the plane because of almost constant side-to-side turbulence.  Plus I had an aisle seat.

Nearing Heathrow the plane turned so that I got a great view of central London.  I was surprised at all the things I recognized from the air--Parliament, Royal Albert Hall, etc.  But I guess it's not really surprising since I'd been looking at maps of London for the last 7 months.

At the end of the flight I discovered that the hottie in my row (Michele) was taking the same tour as me.  So we got our bags and between the two of us we figured out how to take the subway from Heathrow to the Royal National Hotel.  The above-ground portion of the subway ride was very reminiscent of taking the train to New York a few months ago (went through the same types of neighborhoods).  After checking in, Michele went to take a nap but I decided to take advantage of what little time there was for sightseeing.  I was able to pack most of the centrally-located attractions into a few hours.  Across from Buckingham Palace in the park I ate a really bad hot dog.  I fed a crumb to a pigeon and was rapidly accosted by 2 dozen "thug" pigeons.  One jumped up on my bench and one hovered in my face.  So with rain looming, I went back to the hotel.

At night the tour groups assembled and we met our tour manager, Tony, and our driver, Paul (later known as Shervo).  We had a few drinks at the London Pub adjacent to the hotel, but it was a relatively early night since we had to leave at 6am the next morning.

London Eye

Parliament and Big Ben

St. Margaret's Church, Westminster Abbey

Buckingham Palace

10 Downing Street
[Oct 14 2002:  I've subsequently learned that this photo is of a different house on Downing Street, not #10.  There's a security gate at the end of the street so I couldn't get any closer than this, but even from that distance I was sure the marker said "10".  I'll try to get this mess straightened out when I return to London in 6 weeks.]