Insight Tours of Scandinavia and Austria, Bavaria and Switzerland
September and October, 2007

Home to London

Friday 31st August, 2007
Saturday and Sunday 1 & 2 September 2007

Friday 31st August, 2007

Drop Cap e decided, in view of the impending APEC conference and subsequent lockdown of Sydney from Saturday 1st September, to go down early and stay at the Holiday Inn Airport Hotel tonight. Accordingly we organised Anchor Minibus to pick us up this afternoon with no pressure to make the airport. As it happened, just as we got off the Freeway at Olympic Drive, the bus started to make worrying noises and the driver, Rae, pulled into Moorefields Road near Clemton Park to have a look at the engine.

She discovered that one of the fanbelts, a small one which worked the airconditioning, had jumped off its pulley. Luckily the A/C was not on. She consulted her husband, son and mechanic by mobile and the mechanic said it would be OK to cut the belt off and drive without it. She had nothing to cut with so Mac unpacked his Swiss Army knife and she used that.

So on we went, quietly now, until we arrived at the Holiday Inn, checked in and are now sitting in our room checking out all the features. The bed seems comfortable and there is a pillow menu! Dinner at Amelia's later on.

Later on:

Drop Cap fter phoning Geoff we went to dinner. Amelia's was excellent, if pricey (getting us conditioned to what was to come!) We had a glass of verdelho each and started by sharing a nice light bruschetta. Then I had the special of lovely thick but tender and juicy lamb cutlets on a bed of mashed sweet potato with a lovely red wine jus. Mac had a braised lamb shank on mashed potato which he said was succulent and delicious.

We dithered about dessert and in the end I had a sinful chocolate pudding with vanilla creme fraiche, chocolate sauce and scattered chocolate with liquored prunes. Yum - death by chocolate with an aid to digestion combined. Mac had a strawberry compote with cream and strawberry sorbet. He said it was delicious. We decided there was no room left for coffee. It cost $103 and we both thought it was worth it. Better not eat like that all the way through the tours, it would cost a fortune and put on too much extra weight.

A stroll in the environs and then back to crash. A good start to the holiday though. I am glad we decided to come early.

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Saturday and Sunday 1 & 2 September 2007

Drop Cap ell, all our care to be early in case of disruption was totally unnecessary. We had a very easy run through which continued all the way. From Sydney to Hong Kong we had an Airbus, and although small, it seemed reasonably comfortable. Then from HK to LHR we had a BA Jumbo which was full and very tightly packed. However, we didn't eat anything until breakfast on Sunday just out of Heathrow and managed a little sleep.

Drop Cap t is quite fine, warm and sticky in London but the weather is supposed to change later today. We Expressed into Paddington and picked up travel cards on the Oyster system and some cash. Then we walked from Paddington to Norfolk Square (literally five minutes) and circumnavigated it to find the Cardiff, a little B & B covered in scaffolding and green swaddling. We have a small room on the ground floor which was available within five minutes and managed showers in the bathroom cupboard! Then out and about to London.

Tower of London photograph

View of the Tower of London from Tower Hill


Drop Cap ur Oyster cards did not help us much on the Tube today because ongoing rail engineering over the whole system had closed down the Circle and District lines , which we needed to get to Tower Hill and the alternate routes were restricted. We ended up getting out at Bank and getting a cab to Tower Hill tube station. It was not easy there either because there was a massive memorial service for the fallen of the Merchant Navy on Tower Hill which closed roads and brought police and ambulances and elderly gents in blazers and medals everywhere.

St. Botolph's photograph

One of the St. Botolph's

Drop Cap owever, we met Sue, our London Walks guide and with a small group of 12 set out to see Ancient London, Nuns, Knights and Notoriety. We walked for two hours on steadily more painful feet, and saw many areas which used to be great churches and priories, many of which were dissolved by Henry VIII for good reason, leaving just some ancient churches like St. Katherine Cree, St. Mary Axe, St. Anthony under Shaft, St. Helen's and several St. Botolph's.

Knight Statue photograph

Knight Statue in Old London

Drop Cap any of the monastic buildings had gone, but had left remnants of their gardens and cloisters, some of which were lovely. There is a modern building which has incorporated quite a lot of one of the buildings in its two first floors, indoors. It is quite amazing, it seems they have to keep the old remnants if they want to redevelop. In one of the gardens was a wonderful modern statue of a knight on horseback, showing an area which was controlled by an order of knights. It was an interesting tour and Sue was an excellent leader, very entertaining.

Drop Cap e had some lunch at Liverpool Street Station (built where Bedlam Madhouse once stood) and then tried to find a train home. No luck, as the closures still stood so we went out and found a number 23 bus to Paddington. We can use our Oysters on the buses as well, and given the Tube problems including my problems with the steps up and down, we are more prepared to give the buses a good go.

Drop Cap e crawled back to the Cardiff and collapsed on the very hard bed and slept for about five hours.

At 19:30 we went out and had dinner at Garfunkel's opposite the station. There is a large selection of restaurants and cafes of all ethnic persuasions around here. It won't be hard to find a meal. So to bed, exhausted again.

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