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Published: June 10th 2017
Geo: 51.5002, -0.126236
It is 8:30PM and I am past ready for bed. Last night was spent on a plane flying to Heathrow on British Air; the airline was much better this time, friendlier stewards and stewardesses, and providing the vegan food I had requested. The last time I flew on BA they had no food at all for me and Laila (my vegan daughter) to eat, so as we were held captive on their craft, not entirely faking trying to look very hungry, they borrowed one banana from first class and presented it to the two of us on a china plate, along with two forks. A very interesting "solution" to their problem! That was years ago, and thus I have stayed away from British Air until last night, unable to find a better deal on a flight so I thought I'd take a chance. The food still tasted pretty much like cardboard, but at least they had provided for the request. We had a much better dinner today, checking out Down to Earth, a vegan restaurant half an hour's walk away from our little hotel in Hyde Park. I was even able to eat a very delicious raw dinner, which is how I prefer to eat at home, except in wintertime.
We left Boston from terminal E, a dinky overused part of an otherwise beautiful airport. I choose not to go through the cancer-causing naked-body scanners, so they ask if I want a pat-down. I tell them the truth: NO, but that seems to be my only choice. In Boston so far they have always been respectful and kind. But the young woman who walked me to their private screening room would not answer my questions. At first she simply ignored me, so of course I asked her a few more times, until she finally said she would answer my questions later, that answering them now would take much more time. (Did this make any sense? How could that be?) When the pat-down was finished, I asked her why they were not allowed to answer people's questions, and this time she did answer me, but with the same response. It seems most people do not question anything, including the TSA workers and the instructions they are given. But I am a child of the hippie era: QUESTION EVERYTHING. The TSA people expect potential travellers to just be silent, to follow along like cattle, to be afraid. Cultivating the whole system of fear and abuse denies us the respect fellow human beings deserve and should be given; it also creates a caste system, and a system of them versus us, not a healthy situation in any country.
Even though we had just arrived today, I had scheduled one of Sandeman's free walking tours, this one of the historical city of London, going to most of the tourist sights all visitors want to see. Sandeman's is a wonderful site to roam, as they offer free tours in many large cities across the world. I took one in Madrid when I was visiting my daughter a few weeks ago, and it gave a 2 1/2 hour history and highlight tour of that city, preparing us for further explorations on our own. During today's tour we started at Covent Gardens, saw a couple Harry Potter sites (those held no interest for me), went to Picadilly Circus, the Mall, Buckingham Palace, King Charles I statue--marking the very center of London, Trafalgar Square, St. James Palace, St. James' Park, Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey among other gorgeous sights. Of course on this tour we didn't have time to go inside any of these places, but it was a perfect introduction to London for neophytes. Both of us lagged halfway through, having slept very little and poorly on the plane the night before, and being overdressed for such warm weather, but our energy returned after a short break in St. James' Park, so we were able to finish in grand style, at least looking half-way decent keeping up with our fellow tour walkers. Given that the day was quite hot, temps in the high 80s (this is London?), I felt we did very well. Afterwards, and before seeking out dinner, Bill and I walked over the Thames River, over the Westminster Bridge. How stunning it was to look up and see--and hear--Big Ben! London is truly a magnificent city.
So this was our first day here; tomorrow we are taking a tour to Stonehenge! I just hope I will be able to feel its energy, to be able to imagine some of the rites and rituals that occurred here throughout the centuries, to feel its magic. But I have no energy left tonight: it's time to sleep.
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