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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

A girls' day out in London

A well-respected residence

The title of this blog post is derived from the fact that having seen many of London's sightseeing attractions (the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's Cathedral etc.) on previous visits, I left it up to my daughter and wife to decide what to do during the two full days we would be spending in the British capital. So where do you want to go first when you're an eleven-year-old girl? Why, to the London Eye, of course!:

Visiting the 135 meter-high ferris wheel was a first for me as well, as it wasn't around on my last visit to London back in 1996 (a year after the city's previous heat wave). Amber enjoyed the views from our (thankfully) air-conditioned egg-shaped glass pod:

The Arosfa Hotel, where we stayed during our three nights in London, is close to the BT Tower, in the center in the photo above

I watched an episode of Anthony Bourdain's TV show the other night in which he poked fun at "tourists" in London (as if that non-resident, non-British subject could be anything other) and congratulated himself on having never visited the London Eye, but I'll take the joy of a satisfied child over the smugness of a pretentious hipster every time.

Meanwhile, back on terra firm in South Bank, we reunited with Shu-E, who had inexplicably opted out of going up in the London Eye and was mortified to learn it was air-conditioned (she had a very difficult time with southern England's heat wave, despite having lived most of her life in hotter, more humid climates):

At my daughter's urging, we crossed over the Thames on the Westminster Bridge to the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben:

Amber wanted to have a look at Buckingham Palace, so we continued on in that direction, catching the end of the Changing of the Guard as the old guard were coming off duty and returning to their barracks:

Onward to the palace gates:

 Queen Victoria Monument

After taking a break in the shady confines of Green Park, we plotted our next move. My wife wanted to visit Borough Market, but as the day was a Sunday, it was closed, so she opined that she wished to see the Sunday UpMarket, sensibly presuming it would be open. We took the tube to Aldgate East, then stopped for some Thai food and English ale at Chun Easy Thai @ The White Hart:

The pub's claimed link to history:

The writing on the wall on Osborn Street:

Shu-E was disappointed with the Sunday UpMarket. Instead of traditional British foods for sale, she was confronted with food stands offering goods from all over the world for our dining and drinking pleasure. I tried explaining to her that the market is actually representative of today's cosmopolitan London, but my wife tends to look at the world through stereotyped goggles. My daughter, on the other hand, couldn't care less about the origin of certain sweet goodies:

From the market we took the tube back to our hotel, where the heat got the best of Shu-E. Amber and I, on the other hand, were still bursting with energy (her more so than me), so it was back on the Underground:

London isn't cheap, but there are a surprising number of free attractions, such as the Natural History Museum in Kensington, housed in a beautiful ornate building:

Letting my daughter be the guide, we checked out the dinosaur gallery...:

...and the exhibits on Volcanoes and Earthquakes:

The blue whale skeleton also proved to be a hit:

A Japanese-themed festival in London? What more could an Anglophile/Japanophile ever ask for?:

Returning to the Arosfa from the museum, we roused my wife from her heat-induced stupor and ventured outside and around the corner to Byron, part of a British hamburger chain that shows the UK has come a long way on the burger front from the days of Wimpy. They also have their own brand of lager and pale ale - take that, McDonald's and Burger King!:

That evening, with the girls back at the hotel and getting ready for another hot, stuffy night with the windows open and the lone fan on its highest setting, I took a long walk into Camden, passing by a building that apparently needed some exterior support...: well as a sobering reminder of one of the many wars that were won and lost:

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