We landed at Heathrow around 3pm and thankfully there was not a really long line to get our passports stamped. There were at least a dozen agents so it went quickly. The giant sign that says UK Border was begging to be photographed. We managed two shots and then got yelled at by security for taking pictures. Welcome! Our luggage arrived safe and sound, and the chaos of Terminal 5 we'd heard on the news was nowhere to be found. It was, in fact, eerily quiet. We may or may not have seen Simon Cowell's girlfriend at the baggage carousel. (Nicole insists it was her; I had no clue.)
We'd decided to hire a car to take us to our hotel, and our driver was waiting for us with all the others. He took our luggage and led us to the car, which was a Toyota minivan. The drive to our hotel took about 50 minutes. We passed by several landmarks on the way, like Buckingham Palace and Big Ben. The driver could have been friendlier, but we arrived safely and checked in. Our room was “triple as twin,” which means there was a double bed and a twin bed.
The room was huge compared to what I was expecting, and compared to the other London hotel we stayed in towards the end of the trip. Our view was other hotel windows--not beautiful, but we could see the sky at least, and the top of the London Eye. We settled in a bit then went out to explore!
It was a beautiful day; barely a cloud in the sky. We walked along the Thames, across Westminster Bridge (there's Big Ben!)
then up Whitehall (stopping to see the Horse Guard)
to Trafalgar Square.
On the way to Covent Garden we stopped to buy our 7-day passes to use on the Tube. Covent Garden was not as lively as I expected, although granted, it was past 8pm. We had Cornish pasties for dinner--they're like pot pies, but semi-circular in shape, and you hold it in your hands like pizza. Yum! Less than ₤3 each. We stopped at a Tesco to check out what a British grocery store would be like, and ended up buying junk food—Cadbury bar, mint Aero bar, and weird chip flavors (Steak & Onion, Prawn Cocktail, Bacon Rashers).* We meandered our way to Waterloo Bridge, getting some great dusk shots of Big Ben, the Eye, etc.
It’s disarming how late it stays light outside! Then it was back to the hotel to get some sleep in an actual bed.
*Go here to see all the