Travel Journal
Santorini & London -- April 1-16, 2004
Day 9 & 10

Day 9 -- Saturday, April 9

So, the next morning we got off at London Bridge Station and walked over to the ticket agent to pick up his match tickets. On the way there, we passed by the London Dungeon, with a long line for the tour they have. It looked like fun, though. After the tickets, we took some pictures of Tower Bridge and the new City Hall building. Then we made our way up to Paddington Station so I could get my train to Slough and meet up with Robbie. We called her to say which train I'd be on. Then I went through the gates to my train and Paul went off to his game. I didn't really see the point of walking further down the train, so I got in the first Standard Carriage I saw. It ended up being a 'silent carriage', which meant no cell phones allowed. Seemed pleasant enough to me, and then on top of that, the seats were airplane-style, with tray-tables and seat pockets! My ride was only 20-25 minutes long, but it was quite enjoyable. Hopped off the train and passed the barrier-gates into the tiny station-house. Peeked out the doors, but came back in as I didn't see anyone. I was only standing there but a moment, when all of a sudden there was Robbie! Took me by surprise without the cowboy hat...

We went back onto the platform for the Windsor train. That one was quite short and in a few moments we were there. As you might expect because of the day (Yes, it was the Royal Wedding), there were many people walking around. So the smart thing to do was to head in the opposite direction into the residential part of town. But before we left the shopping area near the station we stopped for lunch, as it was about that time. She had garlic pizza bread & a sweet pastry and I had an egg mayo bacon sandwich on a baguette, which was essentially egg salad with meat (ham?), not bacon like we have here. It was fantastically good, and I'd have one of those again anytime! After that we walked among the buildings and houses: An old fire station, a couple of churches, a police station. Learned a lot about British architecture in that the exit plumbing is mostly on the outside of buildings, and electric lines attach from underground. The only wires you see coming in from above are telephone lines. So there are no ugly power poles and miles of wires to ruin a view. Isn't that a great idea? After making a large circle, we ended up by the river, where we stopped and fed the ducks, Canada Geese, and Royal Swans. (Only the Queen is allowed to keep swans, you know...) You'd think they were starving the way they came after us for those bird pellets. (Multi-colored like Fruity Pebbles, scary!)

Then it was across the bridge and into Eton. Instantly is was like you were in another time. (I swore I just saw the TARDIS dematerialize...) I got the distinct impression that people in earlier times were much smaller (in both directions) that we are now. The doorways were tiny and the second-story overhangs were low. Not to mention the step-downs to go through through the doors in the first place! At the far end of the road were the buildings of Eton College itself. Impressive and beautiful. As you might have noticed by now, I'm a complete sucker for antiquity. I just love old buildings (and other old things). Since you can't really go any further, the only thing left is to turn around and go back across the bridge. This is when I really got my first good views of Windsor Castle. What a magnificent structure! Even from across the river, it's so wide I couldn't fit it into one shot (at full 3X zoom). Yeah, I could've zoomed out, but I wanted it as large as possible in the picture. Apparently the large crowds had left, but there were still plenty of folks left along the side of the road, increasing as we got closer to the other road that goes right up to the Castle. I stopped next to a rounded portion so that I could touch it. The feeling I got when I thought about the generations of my ancestors that had actually lived there was simply amazing. (Yes, I do have royalty and nobility lines, I just haven't managed to get any of that online yet.) The road continued up and around to a crossroads with a statue of Queen Victoria at the center of it. Even though it was later in the afternoon, there were still plenty of people about. TV folks were interviewing the crazies who were all dressed up. You couldn't even go up the cross street to the actual entrance. We ducked into the Information Centre/Shop and had a look around. The oddest thing was that there were no books on or about Windsor in English on the shelves! Just about every other language was there, though. I guess with all the wedding fuss, tons of people came and they got sold out. But Robbie read to me some info from the French version, so it was OK. Exited from there and had a look at the old tilting building on the other side of the road. She also showed me a roof (hidden away behind some other shops) with little bumps of moss adorning it. Quite funky. Then on our return down the street to the train station, we nearly got mowed down by Royal-Watcher Jenny Bond and her crew. That was certainly an interesting almost-incident.

Got the train back to Slough and wandered about the 2 adjacent malls for a bit. Discovered that the British like to shop cheap like some of us do (.99 pence & Poundland stores) and even some regular clothing shops with relatively decent prices. Guess you have to get out of the city to find the good stuff. Got a bus back to the house. Tiny, but cute. Dyson the kitty was shy for a bit, but what a sweet thing. And he likes laser pointers, too. I just might have to get one for the girls, to drive them nuts. Sat down and got to watch the Dr. Who episode that we missed the majority of at the airport, then a bit after that it was time for the new one (The Unquiet Dead). Oooh, it was creepy and awesome! Dinner was fish & chips. (Again for me, but I didn't mind.) Actually, I thought the stuff they got was better than what I'd had the night before. (Crispier...) We also watched the DW Confidential, which I think? was about the TARDIS. Then it was a mad dash to the Langley train station with John driving and Robbie in the back of the van. It was good to see them, but it was time to get to the other end of town. I caught the 8:46 train with time to spare! Called Sandra's from London Bridge station and Paul came to meet me when my 9:45 train pulled in. He told me all about his day at the Chelsea match, and much he had enjoyed New Who #3 as well. We all sat up and talked for a bit, and I showed the pictures I had taken that day. Then it was time to toddle off to bed, as we had an adventure planned for us the next day.

Day 10 -- Sunday, April 10

Ann came and picked us up, and we headed off to the Chislehurst Caves, where we met up with her daughter Sarah plus boyfriend Darren in the car park. He scooted off, and the rest of us went in and got tickets for the next tour. Our guide was simply outrageous! Funny as heck, with long hair and a beard. I enjoyed his presentation very much. We all got a kick our of Felicity, his volunteer to demonstrate the Altar of Sacrifice. Then there was the opportunity to experience complete and total darkness. He had a bunch of us crowd up standing on the altar (including me), and took everyone else (including Ann, Sarah & Paul) far around at least 2 corners into a niche so their lanterns were not discernible. It was fantastic! A couple people were freaking out and this girl in front of me was singing (not the words, just vocalizing the melody) 'Amazing Grace'. All of a sudden came a loud bang that turned into a rolling rumble. Everyone around me jumped & screamed. (Especially the singer, who huddled against me in apparent terror...) 'Booooommmmmmm', again. Then, without our being aware of it, the tour guide flicked on his torch (flashlight, for the Yanks who don't know the British term) -- he was right below us in front of the altar! (Little sneak...) This produced some more screams, and then we all got down and went around the bend to join the others. Along the way he showed us the metal oblong 'drum' he'd pounded on. Boy, does sound carry down here! We saw a bunch of other things, including facilities from when people sheltered here during WWII, the pool where a woman was killed (and there have been challenges to in that area for X hours, if if could be done). Eventually we got back to where we started, with the little wartime ticket offive for a 'pitch' and the big sign with the rules for staying there. Back up top, Ann got us a couple of pens for souvenirs, and I got a booklet on the history of the Caves. Paul some stuff too. Then we went back to Sandra's for a lovely (and HUGE) steak pie & veggies for a late lunch/early dinner. Darren came by for a while, then left with Sarah. Later, Ann had to go (feeding kitties), and we all just relaxed for the rest of the evening. Good thing to get some rest, as the next 2 days would prove to be rather busy.

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