London, UK - July 3, 2013
As Spot said, I'm back in London, but only for just a bit longer as I'm flying out in the morning. I took the bike into the shipper's on Monday morning and that all went quite smoothly. Took me about an hour to get from here to Gatwick as I hit the morning rush hour traffic but once there, only an hour to get through the paperwork and to get the bike ready. Things were a little different this time around. They asked me to park the bike on a big plastic dropcloth... and when I asked them what that was all about, the guy said that it was a trade secret. Ha! He looked a little sheepish and so I figure that we're back to the old story of them wrapping the bike, taking an air sample and passing the sample under the nose of a bomb-sniffing dog. I think he was a little embarrassed to tell me that.
A Piano Recital to be Missed
Anyway, backing up a bit, I had a great day for the ferry from Dunkerque to Dover... have never seen the white cliffs so bright. While waiting in my lane at the ferry terminal, a car pulled up next to me with a rather elderly couple, and the guy rolled down the window and he says... "That's the best bike ever made." Well, heck, now that we were best friends, we had a great talk waiting there. He had been a motorcycle cop in Scotland and had driven the old BMW's for years. He waxed nostalgic over the whole thing. Anyway, that was fun. And the ride to London was none to shabby as well as I let the GPS take me through all kinds of back single-lane roads lined with hedges or through tree tunnels... all classic British countryside. Just great.
White Cliffs From the Ferry
Green Tunnel Enroute to London
I came back to the guesthouse I have used the last few trips to London, and am back in my old room. Had a nice chat with Percy, the owner... his only real complaint is that he can never get away. Seems to be an occupational hazard for B&B and guesthouse owners... made worse by the fact that they always see people on the move from one place to another. Guess it would be a great occupation for homebodies but it would kill me!
I only had a few things I really wanted to do this visit. I missed my little weather window for the London Eye as only Monday was really spectacular, but I did get to the Pompeii-Herculaneum exhibit at the British Museum. I almost didn't get in, however. I checked the website for tickets and saw that the first date available was the 8th... of AUGUST! But I figured I'd just go anyway as maybe they would have some available on the day. Yes, there were some available. Whew! And the exhibit was very well done. There was a lot of furniture from Herculaneum that I had not seen before, as well as a lot of daily-use kitchen utensils and carbonized food, frescoes and personal items. It was amazing how little some things have changed in 2000 years. The water taps from the garden and the bird bath look like what you could get at Home Depot or a garden shop today. The chairs and baby cradle were the same design. The muffin tins had round rather than flat bottoms, and the bread was stamped with the name of the baker. But other than that, quite recognizable and all rather incredible. Some parts were quite moving. I guess archeologists had found the cradle with a baby still inside, covered with a woolen cloth, and there was a grouping of body casts indicating that it had been a family of four huddled together under the stairs when they were all incinerated. The detail preserved was astounding. I guess a writer of the day after surveying the site lamented whether anyone would ever realize just how beautiful was the city and the people who lay beneath the future forests and gardens. Ah yes, we do! Amazing.
Anyway, today was rather low-key as I just went to the Natural History Museum, but only stayed an hour before the place was absolutely overrun with hordes of little kids, all wearing high-visibility vests as is the custom here. It turned into a screaming mass of humanity. So I bailed in favor of the Science Museum, but on my way there, saw that there were yet more fluorescent hordes on their way there. So Plan C was to duck into the Victoria and Albert... not really a kid museum. Glad I did as they seem to have brought out more of the the micro-mosaics from their collection and now have on display lots of things I hadn't seen in the past. They've expanded the exhibit into the adjacent room even. Wonderful. Other highlights: I stopped at a pub sat outside and drank a half of Spitfire ("The Bottle of Britain"). Actually, it wasn't a bottle but one one those long-pulls from a basement cask. The aircraft was better than the beer... good thing I guess. OK... well here's a low-point. As I write this, I see that there is a program on TV called "Body Shock: The Man with the 10-Stone Testicles". Isn't a stone 14 pounds? Oh yeah, it is. OMG. Time to switch channels. How do you let things get to that state? I mean don't you think that if they got to 1/4 pound you would go see somebody? OK, I'll have to try to replace that visual.
So I have to get up at 5 tomorrow to walk down to the station for the train to Gatwick. With the timezone change, I get to Vancouver only 2 hours after leaving London. If I'm not too bagged, I'll do the 4-hour ride home... and mission accomplished. Another great trip... although way too short. But I have to say that even though it has only been a month, it does seem like such a long time ago since I started. And to think that it has been less than a year since I was in St. Petersburg. That's crazy. That was SUCH a long time ago. I tell you that if you ever feel that life is flying by, just travel. There is something about time perception while travelling that slows the clock down. I mean a month at home is nothing. A month on the road is worth three or four times that. Just shows how little stimulation there is in ones normal daily routine. Well at least my daily routine. Oh well... back to the grind.
Countries Visited So Far
So thanks to all of you for following along again. I'll get the new and improved website up and running (it is looking nice) after I get home and will post pictures and the map of this trip... pictures mostly of Norway really. And thanks to the bike for once again being the amazing machine that it is. Other than the speedometer... not one issue. And the odometer is still working and that's all I really need as I use that as my fuel gauge.
OK... now about this Russia-Mongolia-Kazakhstan trip...