I was in London on a business trip this past weekend.
I don’t go on business trips often, and never overseas, and I felt inspired to write about it, so beginning with the end, here goes:
All times are local.
The flight back from London was a piece of cake. I left Heathrow at 6:00 pm, arrived at JFK (NYC) at 9:00pm, went to bed at 11:30, woke up at 7:30, fresh as a daisy, relatively speaking.
The flight to London was just the opposite. I flew out of JFK at 7:00 pm, napped maybe an hour, arrived at Heathrow at 7:00 am in a daze. Took a 2 hour nap in the Hotel, pried myself out of bed around noon, spent the rest of the day relatively awake. Getting out of bed Saturday and Sunday mornings was like forcing myself out a deep sleep and onto my feet. Do-able but still…
Friday after my nap I walked an hour from my hotel (the Landmark) which is across the street from Marylebone Station to The British Museum. Lots of Starbucks on the way. Lots of Italian Restaurants too. New Yorkers can be in a rush sometimes, and it’s not a big deal but Londoners sound like they’re going to walk right over you if you don’t get out of their way. Maybe they just wear bigger heels than we do.
I used to be a junkie for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY because it has a sort of anthropological bent to it’s displays of ancient art. But as far as Egyptian and Ancient Near Eastern (Mesopotamia, etc.) collections go, The British Museum has the Met beat. The British has the Rosetta stone. I was surprized at how shallow the writing was etched into the stone. Looks like a good polishing would wipe it all out. Also, the British has colossal pieces of colossal statues that just boggle the mind (mine, anyway). Not to mention the rooms full of exquisitely detailed clay panels of Mesopotamian kings on lion hunts and doing battle. Amazing stuff.
Since my feet were killing me, I took the Underground back to the Hotel. Easy enough, except later on I learned the hard way that if you get a one-way adult ticket it’s only good for one day. The Underground interface (map, fare cards, zones, how each line is displayed at the stations) is much more like the Washington Metro than the NY Subway. In other words, a little clunky on the fare end, but much more easily navigable.
Dress for the Saturday meeting was “business casual” so that’s what I brought. Friday night was the reception. I didn’t have a jacket. All the other men did. Note to self: reception=bring a jacket.
After the meeting Saturday I high-tailed it to the Tower of London. I got out of the tube station and there was the “tower” and the Tower Bridge. Pretty impressive old stuff. I did a quickie tour of the Tower, including the White Tower - the one you see in the movies, and the Crown Jewels. They twinkled like they were real but some say they aren’t. Which is it? I was a little disappointed in the White Tower because I thought it was going to have cells with hay on the floor and stuff like “this is where Elizabeth was kept”. But it was mostly an armory. They did have the place where Sir Walter Raleigh was kept, and the place where they chopped off the heads of Anne Boleyn and others who fell out of favor with the King who were put to the axe, so that sort of made up for it.
In the White Tower they had Henry VIII’s armor - which included a huge metal codpiece that stuck out comically from the rest of the armor… The codpiece was so big that everybody would walk up to the display and laugh. I guess old Henry had a thing for the crown jewels.
I tubed it back to the hotel where we were to gather and take a tour and go to dinner.
TMI part: When I blew my nose I noticed my snot was darker and had more black sooty particles than it does when I’m in NYC. Anybody else experience this?
We got on double-decker buses and hit the hot spots, then went on the London Eye, which looks like a giant bicycle wheel and is essentially a ferris wheel (but heated, thank God) and you get a bird’s eye view of central London and the Thames. It’s fun.
Then we went through the Docklands area on our way to dinner. Very interesting-looking part of town and I’ll be sure to check it out in more detail next time I go to London.
We went to dinner at a Medieval Festival kind of place. The cool part was that it was in a basement with arched bays of brick. I felt like anything could happen up top and we wouldn’t know about it. Anyway it was pretty good. Pitchers of beer were flowing and they had magic tricks and sword fights and live music. The MC had a headset microphone so that was kind of bogus but I guess we wouldn’t have been able to hear him otherwise. The food was simple and well-prepared. I probably wouldn’t go there of my own accord, but I had a good time nevertheless.
The next morning a co-worker of mine and I went out to Windsor Castle, an hour away by train. Now that’s a castle!! I would highly recommend that if you go to London for any length of time, be sure to get out to Windsor Castle. It really filled out my trip. It’s amazing how these old places can house such huge spaces. My hotel was like that too. It looks small from the outside, but inside there’s huge room after huge room. A pretty amazing place.
All in all I had a good time. If there is a next time I go to London I want to take the train to Paris. That and see St. Paul’s, check out the Docklands, go to some more museums…