London and Amsterdam, November 2002

I didn't keep a journal like I did on my Contiki tour; I've just included a few comments and anecdotes where appropriate.  All the photos are on this one page so if you're a cheap bastard on dialup you'll have to wait a few minutes for the images to load.  While waiting you may want to scroll down to the freaky coincidence that took place on the 29th.

Nov 24:  Los Angeles to London

I noticed very quickly that very few girls in London are fat.  My theory is they walk a lot more on account of having to ride the Tube.

First three photos are from the British Museum...

The Rosetta Stone, which I was unsuccessful at pilfering.

Elgin Marbles.

Some Greek temple the British stole a while back.

The London Pub at the Royal National Hotel, familiar to anyone who's taken a Contiki tour of Europe.

 

Gerrard Street (Chinatown)--much more colorful in person.

Piccadilly Circus.

Houses of Parliament--I was testing the "stitch" feature of my camera (this is two photos stitched together) and the angles are a bit funny.

Nov 25:  London

The Royal Albert Hall, forever known as the site of that big battle royal won by the British Bulldog a while back.

I toured Westminster Abbey but most of the good stuff was off-limits to photography.  The Coronation Chair (used for all but 2 coronations since the 1200s) was pretty regal, as were the grave of Geoffrey Chaucer and the floor where all the literary types are buried (Lewis Carroll, T.S. Eliot, Lord Alfred Tennyson [sic--intentional], etc.)

Churchill Statue in Parliament Square.  Churchill was MEAN.

Next 5 photos are from the Tower of London...

Site of Scaffold.  Where Henry VIII perfected the art of divorce.  The actual axe and chopping block are in a display case in one of the buildings but I couldn't get a photo.

The Tower Ravens.  If they leave the Tower, the Commonwealth will collapse.  So their wings are clipped.

Raven on an old-ass wall.  The signs confused me; this wall portion dates to the 2nd/3rd century or the 12th/13th century.

The White Tower is framed in the middle.

More ravens.

Tower Bridge.

Tower of London.  The grassy area is where the moat used to be.

Tower Bridge (background) and Tower of London.

Tower of London and one of the remaining segments of the original Roman city wall.

I had to wait until 15 Japanese tourists had their photos taken one by one in front of this clock by their group leader before I could snap this one.  For the record, I confirmed that my dong does extend two Imperial Feet, and not a hair less.

MEAN.

The Prime Meridian, site of the ill-fated Bihemispheric Fart.

Afterward I toured the Cabinet War Rooms, where Churchill ran the government from an underground complex to avoid bombs and whatnot.  The place is reminiscent of a public school built in the '40s and isn't photogenic at all, thus the lack of photos here.  This is despite the fact that an American guy with the very same Canon camera as me was offering advice unsolicitedly regarding ISO.  I didn't realize the extent of WWII damage to London until now.

After all the tourist stuff I want to the Oz Bar down the street from my hotel.  It didn't really have an Oz flavor.  My Guinness had an eerie shamrock imprint in the head.  I had chicken tikka masala, which took care of my desire to try Indian food in London, although an Australian pub was an odd setting.  An American guy walked in and ordered a "Foster's Lager", demonstrating an intercontinental lack of coolness.  I said "cheers" in an inadvertent British accent to the bartender when I left.

Nov 26:  London

Next 3 are from Windsor Castle...

Another stitched photo (4 shots).  I figured it would come out dark, shooting into the sun.  This is the Upper Ward, or Quadrangle.  State Apartments to the left, Visitors' Apartments to the right, Private Apartments (for the royals) in the distance.

The Round Tower, the primary structure in the middle of the castle.

Lower Ward.  St. George's Chapel to the left.  Lots of famous people buried in there, including Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

Windsor is a 35-40 minute train ride from London, with a change at Slough.  At the Slough station there's a stuffed dog named Jim on display.  He was the station pet and died in the 1800s.  He learned to bark every time someone gave him a coin.

Nov 27:  London to Amsterdam

Got to see old Wembley Stadium from the air.  I'd wanted to visit it but they started tearing it down a few months ago to build a new one.

My hotel room.  The room in London was too small to photograph.

Room service menu.  Lots of carbohydrates to combat Amsterdam's particular type of munchies.  A few minutes after arriving in my room, my throat was already burning from the cloud of weed enveloping the hotel.  I heard a woman down the hall talking on the phone with a gravelley cigarette voice and unmistakable Philly accent.  I didn't see her but I guessed from the voice that she was two bills at least.

It was my understanding that Amsterdam had great Thai food.  So I went to a quality Thai restaurant in Leidseplein.  The guy running the place was Vietnamese, and I asked him to make my fried rice as spicy as possible and it wasn't spicy at all.  The couple behind me asked what kind of fish came with their meal at he said "it's f-f-from Thailand".  He repeatedly offended the Chinese girl from SF at the next table by initially assuming she was Japanese and then asking if she lived near Chinatown in SF.

Nov 28:  Amsterdam

Leidseplein (stitched from 4 photos).  I do have these panorama shots in the original size, so ask if you want to see more detail.

I spent some time at an Irish pub in Leidseplein (obscured in this photo).  Nice atmosphere--the bartender knew everyone, including the stumbling drunk who tried to gain admittance.  Entertainment consisted of throwing coasters for the dog to catch.  Very odd--a group of guys were in there speaking Dutch, and the bartender was speaking mostly Dutch, but when it came time to pay the bill the guys announced in English that they were quote-unquote "doing Dutch" and paid separately.

Holland Casino, one of the venues for the World Series of Poker.

The Inner Amsterdam Hotel, last stop of many Contiki tours before returning to London (and home of the Last Chance Bar).

Nov 29:  Amsterdam to Los Angeles

In my Contiki journal I mentioned that there was a guy on my LAX-LHR flight who was a cross between Ed Shemansky and Eddie Money.  Believe it or not, I saw the SAME DAMN GUY in line at the British Airways counter at Schiphol Airport.  All the BA flights were AMS-LHR so he evidently has some connection to the UK.  I'm starting to think it's Eddie Money himself.

2002 Zzyzx Creations

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