London, Rome, & Heart of Europe

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April 19th 2019
Published: April 20th 2019
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So, there was no blog last night because we had a very early flight out Friday morning and had to pack! Its amazing how several little things have a tendency to crowd an overcrowded suitcase. We managed, made it to the airport, caught our flight and are now in Rome. We really hated to leave the Balmoral House Hotel because we loved it so much. We especially loved Flavio, our young Italian who checked us in, made taxi arrangements for us, gave us great travel advice (for both London and Rome). I really think he hated to see us go!

So Friday was a big day. We wanted to go to the changing of the guard. We got up early, had another wonderful breakfast at the hotel. This time beans were served with the eggs, ham and toast. That was somewhat odd combination. Still breakfast was very delicious. We walked down to Kensington Park/Hyde Park, then went to catch the Big Bus. The Big Bus line was having trouble as were the other means of public transportation because of all the protestors in London. If you have been following the news then you are aware that there is a major protest going on in London...the climate change protests. Actress Emma Thompson is one of the big names associated with the protest. They have shut down several roads in London and it has caused many transportation problems. It could have been an bigger problem for us because the protestors planned on shutting down Heathrow Airport. That wasn't a problem for us because we flew to Rome from Gatwick! Any way, the Big Bus didn't show up at the stop we needed so we decided if we wanted to get to Buckingham Palace we'd have to walk. It was a tough walk and a long one but it was beautiful! We walked by several gardens, a band stand/gazebo, an old-fashioned ice cream truck, and a beautiful pond with paddle boats and very inviting lounge chairs.

By the time we got to Buckingham Palace it was very crowded! The crowd was entertaining and annoying to say the least. The bobby on duty was hysterical. He certainly entertained the crowd with the way he handled the people there. He would applaud when someone finally did what he ask them to do (after asking several times). He threatened some in the crowd with "Move off the walk or I'll do it for you"! He had a tough job with crowd control. We had one woman, we called her Coco Chanel, she was the fashion type the felt she was privileged. She had to have a map shielding her eyes which was right in front of our cameras. We asked her, politely, to move it but she was very nasty in her response. It was crazy fun to be there but very crowded! I got to record a little of the band and we did manage to get a few pictures!

We left there looking to go to Her Majesty's Gift Shop. We really wanted to go there just because they had the prettiest purple bags but it was closed....Good Friday! As it turned out several shops were closed. So we just enjoyed walking along the street, going in and out of shops, and finding all sorts of cute things. We were also looking for a place to have tea. Tea is usually between 2 pm and 5 pm and can range anywhere from 19 - 60 dollars. Some the require reservations and some only allow you to stay for one half hour! I didn't want to feel like I was in hurry up mode so we checked out several places. We settled on The Bailey House Hotel near South Kensington. It was a great experience. We each picked out our tea and they brought us an arrangement of savory finger sandwiches, scones and clotted cream, topped off with specialty cakes. We spent nearly two hours there just relaxing and enjoying the afternoon tea experience.

Following tea we walked to South Kensington just to check out the shops we saw while riding the bus. It is a very busy area! I loved that Beatrix Potter once lived there! We enjoyed walking around the streets looking at the houses, old building and churches. While we were admiring one old church a gentleman walked by and invited us to service that evening at 6:30. We decided since it was Good Friday and we were away from our home churches for Easter that we would attend. What a service! We were some of the first people to the church but it didn't take long for it to fill up. We estimated there were about 500 people there that night. It was a contemporary worship service and we all enjoyed it very much.

Finally it was time to call it a night! We had to make a few last minute purchases, get a bite to eat, and go back to the hotel and pack. We said our goodbyes to our new found friends at the Balmoral House and that ended our stay in London.

We all loved London! Shealyn learned to eat ketchup and even bought some to take home with her. The ketchup had a thinner consistency and was a little sweeter but a more vinegar taste. According to Marsha it was the perfect combination of sweet and sour. We loved that it was a clean city. We already miss the butter (olive oil here). We miss Flavio at the Balmoral hotel and having someone arrange so many things for us. We loved hearing British words like twitchy, cheerio, rubbish, cheeky, smashing, and queue. We loved the fish and chips and of course afternoon tea. We are looking forward to a day we can return!

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