London Eye, London England
Have you read about the London Eye?
Check it out on Google, ok?
It's like a gigantic ferris wheel that rotates s-l-o-w-l-y over the city of London.
You can take a look on this link, if you have the time...
I thought it would be a fun way to end our day today.
After taking the tube to Leicester Square, we walk along Regent Street, looking for a bank machine to test our ATM bank cards that refused to work at the little French restaurant in Covent Gardens earlier. Our prosecco and creme brulees very nearly didn't get paid for there, because the dratted ATM cards wouldn't work in the restaurant's ATM thingie.
I finally paid cash to save face and to end the line-up that we were causing by having the server try yet another card...and another...
So, we stop at Barclay's Bank today, withdraw cash for each of us and the cards work perfectly. What a relief that is!
We are on a mission today. Taryn needs to find a store that sells phone cards for her to use a pay phone to call friends.
I need to find a good cafe or bistro that serves food that I love and also that will be safe for my gluten-free body. One of the staff in the London Visitor's Center recommends Mario's, a little cafe a couple of doors down from the center. Taryn makes sure I'm comfortable eating there and then she heads out on a major card-find.
It's raining gently.
The only table free is on the street patio, so I dump all of my parcels, umbrella, purse and other detritus and troll the showcase in the cafe. Bakery delicacies catch my eye and I have to remind myself that I need soup or some other main course, NOT apple struedel, custard tartlets, chocolate fudge cake with double chocolate icing.
Brenda, no dessert.
Eat something nourishing.
So, I settle for the chicken soup and green tea, and feeling very virtuous, I wait for the meal to arrive at my wet little table. It does and I will tell you, the soup is fantastic! Served with a huge slice of still-warm sourdough bread, which I can't eat...gluten-alert!...complete with half a bowlful of chicken pieces, it's one of the best chicken soups I've ever eaten.
Taryn returns, successfully waving a phone card and after she has lunch we start walking.
Past Trafalger Square, through the arches at the end of the square, past Downing Street and Parliament Street...we finally reach Big Ben and the parliament buildings.
I am amazed at how, well, big Big Ben is! I had no idea.
This is a usual occurence for me, when I finally see some written-about and famous landmark. The actual size always amazes me. I'm not sure why, because I know it won't look the same size as the images on Google, so why on earth it catches me unaware when I finally see Big Ben or Trafalger's statue and it is HUGE! Too weird.
Crossing the bridge beside Big Ben, we can see the London Eye slowly revolving, full of people. It reminds me of a rotisserie in a supermarket deli, loaded with chickens, slowly rotating on the spit. Not the most encouraging image, is it?
We line up, and after a few moments, we are called to "Cashier #4." I have two questions:
1. Is it hot in those little pods?
2. What happens if I get airsick/carsick/whatever sick?
Cashier #4 very patiently tells me that there is air-conditioning in those little pods and that very few people ever get sick on their trip around the sun.
Good, because I was worrying about that, not liking the feeling of being more than a few inches from good ol' Mother Terra Firma.
We pay for our tickets, line up with the rest of the victims and find ourselves locked inside this glass cocoon with 12 other people. We have to step in very quickly because the whole thing doesn't stop moving, it just moves slower for everyone to hop aboard.
As we rise above the ground, it doesn't seem quite as scary as I feared! Nothing ever is, is it? The Thames below, the sky and clouds above and the city of London surrounding us is quite a lovely picture, and I'm really happy that I am brave enough to do this!
We both use up nearly all of our battery power in both digital cameras, taking image after image. As we roll around to ground level again, I actually feel quite proud of myself for taking the huge step to get on board this glass capsule in the air. As proud as I am of myself for doing this, I am equally as relieved that it is finally over!
Walking back across the city, we stop at The Mermaid's Tale for a gorgeous dinner of fish and chips for the Missy and roasted salmon and veggies for the Grandmother. A bottle of prosecco disappears and a serving of Sticky Toffee Pudding tops it off. YUM!
Leaving the restaurant, heading for the tube, I spot an artist doing caricatures for people. This is the kind of thing I've always wanted to do and never allowed myself the luxury. So, this time I go for it! I sit down while he sketches, watching Taryn laughing her boots off at the results, which I cannot see!
Then, I insist that she goes next, and he creates a portrait of the two of us on one page! There we are...a little family on paper! How cool is that?
We pay him and descend underground for the tube ride to our bus stop. I take us to the wrong bus and we end up going the wrong way! Stopping the bus at a pub, we get off, walk into the pub and explain our predicament. The bartender is kind and calls a taxi for us. She doesn't laugh at us where we can hear it. That's what I mean by kind...
The taxi driver takes us home and with relief, we unlock the front door of our home away from home and step inside. There is a funny buzzing sound that I cannot identify. Taryn shrieks, "Grandma!!! The code for the alarm! Do you know it?"
I do know it.
Barb told me what it is.
I cannot remember it!
OK, I can!
Finally, the 4 digit number eases its way into my addled brain and I key it in on the touchpad, the buzzing stops and we are safely home for another night in London!
"Our happiest moments as tourists always seem to come when we stumble upon one thing while in pursuit of something else." ~ Lawrence Block