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2005-1. Europe- London

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Sylvan and Miltons European Adventure 2005

LONDON

9/5/05-

Well we made it to the airport.

We had set out that morning for the San Francisco airport and had got all the way accross the Bay Bridge when Sylvan started worrying about the location of a lamp that was on a timer. He was concerned that there was a possibility the lamp would burn the house down while we were gone, so we got off at the Fremont exit and went all tweny miles or so back to the house, to move the lamp (A nice start to our vacation). Once Sylvan was able to check everything in the house yet one more time, we headed to the airport for the second time that morning.

Check-in at SFO went smoothly. We got some sandwiches at Subway to tide us over to New York where we were to change planes. It took about four hours to get to New York. We then had to go from the national terminal to the international terminal and it was a bit of an ordeal to find our gate and go through security again. If you ever go, get a direct flight even if it costs a little more! We were going up and down the escalators and were thankful we had luggage with wheels. After finally getting to our gate it was freezing cold and we were hoping it would be warmer on the plane.

9/6/05- Day 1 in Europe-

After another five hour flight, we landed in London. The skies are overcast with a little rain. The breakfast on American Airlines consisted of fig newtons and wheat thins with an awful peanut butter tasting substance that contained no peanuts. The seats on the American Airlines 777 were comfortable although we did not have the individual seatback t.v. monitors that we were expecting on such long flights. Instead of having individual monitors in the seatbacks, we had the over the aisle monitors and the movies shown were Seabiscuit and the Lovebug remake, neither of which we were interested in. Upon landing at Heathrow airport, we had to wait ten minutes or so on the tarmac. Sylvan felt kind of ill at that point from the long flight and the imitation peanut butter for breakfast.

We got our luggage, & got directions to the subway "tube." We purchased a one day subway pass and took the blue line(Piccadilly Circus line) to Gloucester Road station. The Hotel Montana was half a block from the station. The elevator had only room for two people but we had read about hotels in Europe having very small elevators and so we were not entirely surprised but it would have been a problem for people with more luggage. Room 405 had two twin beds which were small for two guys over six feet tall. With the windows open, the room was very noisy since it faced Gloucester Road which is a very busy road. The windows were double paned windows but there was no air conditioning so that closing the window was not an option as it had become pretty warm. With the windows open, the room was very noisy since it faced Gloucester Road which is a very busy road. 

 

 

 

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The bathroom was very small but clean. You could barely turn around in the shower though and water pressure wasn't great.

 

We had dinner at "Garfunkels," a London chain, sit down restaurant, across the street from the hotel.

After dinner we took the tube to Piccadilly Circus which was a little like Times Square in New York with lots of neon and crowds of people. We walked up to Leicester Square. This area has a lot of restaurants, theaters and throngs of people. I think that London must have more live theater than New York.

We walked over to Old Compton St. to check out the "gay" district. We walked by a couple of bars but did not go in anywhere. We were more curious than anything but too exhausted and jet lagged to do much of anything. We took the subway back to Gloucester Rd. and stopped by this convenience store called Tesco which is a chain kind of like 7-11 in London and bought some snacks and went back to the room

 

Europe05Londonmontanabathroom.

9/7/05 - Day 2

We got up and went down for breakfast. We requested to be moved to a quieter room. The front desk told us to pack our bags and they would move them while we were out during the day. The breakfast was included in the hotel cost which is typical in Europe and consisted of toast, coffee and juice. Today we are still recovering from jet lag and wanted an activity where we could just relax and so we are taking the Big Bus hop-on-hop-off tour. We took the tube to Victoria Station and walked to the Big bus tour stop. There are two types of buses on the tour route. One has a live tour guide and the other just has headphones that you listen to. We had read the live guide was better and so we always took those buses.

 

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On the tour we went by 10 Downing Street which is where the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has his offices

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...and on the tour we saw "modern London." You don't see a lot of high-rises in London and I asked the tour guide if there was a "height limitation" but he said the reason that you don't see many high-rises is that the ground is made of clay and doesn't support highrises very well. We did see a few on the tour though. The bullet shaped building on the right is called 30 St. Mary Axe but also sometimes called Gherkin or the Erotic Gherkin.

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We went by Trafalger Square laid out in 1829 to 1841 to commemorate Nelson's victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

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...and the Marble Arch which was designed by John Nash in 1828.

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We got off the tour at the Westminster Abbey/Parliament/Big Ben stop.

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We asked a passerby to take our picture in front of Parliament and Big Ben.

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Then we walked across the street to see Westminster Abbey. The church is huge and amazing. We are not including all the history here on the sites we saw but it was all very interesting. I am going to try to provide links to some of the sites for anyone that wants a little more information.

 

 

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Westminster Abbey was built between the 13th to 16th centuries A.D.and various kings and queens are entombed here. There is a slight admission charge.

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The inside of the church is really beautiful but they don't allow you to take pictures... but I did take one before I knew I wasn't supposed to. It is impossible to capture the immensity of it in a picture anyway. We spent an hour or so looking through this very interesting place.

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We got back on the tour bus took it to Saint Paul's Cathedral. We got directions to Pret-A-Manger which was a recommended chain of British sandwich shops. We thought about taking the tour of the cathedral but decided to take it another day since we were still pretty tired and did not get back to it until the end of our trip. Sylvan also had torn his meniscus, a cartilidge in his right knee, a couple of months before leaving on the trip and was not able to get scheduled for surgery until after the trip. His knee was bothering him when we were at St. Paul's and so we instead got back on the bus took it to the Tower of London where we could catch the River Thames Tour.

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We planned to actually go through the Tower of London at the end of our trip. We wanted to take the site-seeing cruise on the River Thames which was included in the price of the bus tour and would not require any walking and Sylvan could rest his knee. We took some pictures of the Tower Bridge from the tour boat. We kept expecting a "tour guide" to tell us what we were seeing but apparently the sound system malfunctioned and we didn't hear anything until the end when someone apologized for the malfunction and offered to let us stay on the boat. We didn't do that though. We had enjoyed the ride of the river even without the "guide." You definitely get a different view and perspective from the river. Sylvan's knee was still bothering him so we went back to the hotel so he could rest and elevate his leg for a while.. Europe05Londonbridge

 

After resting some, Sylvan felt better. We took the tube to Westminster Station to ride the London Eye. The London Eye is a giant ferris wheel with glass pods big enough for eight people to stand and slowly go around in. You get great views of the city from it. We took it after five in the evening and did not have to wait in a long line.

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This is a picture of Sylvan inside the pod we were in on the London Eye. By this time it was getting dark. You can see Parliament in the background.

 

 

A picture of Parliament and Big Ben from the London Eye.

When we got back to the hotel, they had moved us to room 203 in the back of the hotel. It is quieter and they also furnished us with a fan. The bathroom is still very small, only one person can be in there at one time.

While we had been out, we had passed the Park International Hotel about two blocks away and saw a sign that they had air conditioning. We asked to look at a room there and liked it much better than the Montana and so we canceled our reservation at the Montana for the end of our trip and booked a room at the Park International in the internet and got a better room for less money.

The rest of the London pics on this page are out of sequence. I am keeping all the London pics on one page but everything from here down was actually during the last three days of our trip. 

 

9-24-05- Day 17 in Europe at end of trip.

Upon our return to London from Athens, we landed at Gatwick airport which seems much smaller than Heathrow. We got a day pass that allowed us to ride the regular train into London and which was also good for the subway system. There is also an express train available but on this trip, we just took the regular one to Victoria Station and then the subway to Gloucester Square..

This was our room at the Park International. Although the floors were creaky and the carpet needed replacing, for London, this was a great place to stay. It was only two blocks from where the Montana hotel was and it cost less to stay there when booked on the internet. We would absolutely recommend this over the Montana. It had air conditioning, an elevator that more than two people could ride at the same time, a great breakfast and...

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...a huge bathtub! Where we could barely turn around in the shower at the Montana, this was luxury!

It was still a "European" hotel though and still probably not up to the standards many Americans would expect for the amount of money it cost. (Milton and I often book rooms through Priceline.com when we travel in the states and get some pretty good deals..i.e. The Grand Hyatt next to Grand Central Station in Manhatten for only $99.00- we love a bargain!).

There was a huge modern highrise Holiday Inn about a half a block away from the Park International which I would imagine would be closer to most American hotels but I believe it also cost quite a bit more. The Park Hotel was perfect for our budget.

As we were getting ready that morning, we were also watching C.N.N. and keeping track of what was going on with Hurricane Rita.

We went down to breakfast of all you could eat toast, a choice of pastries, coffee, OJ, cereal, ham, cheese, etc. .

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After breakfast we walked down to Gloucester Square and purchased our one day travel cards and took the tube to the Victoria station stop. I got a picture of Milton in a London phonebooth.

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We walked from Victoria station to Buckingham Palace.

 

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It was a little early for the changing of the guard so we walked up the road along St. James Park to see the lake in the park and to take a few pictures.

Here's one with the zoom across the lake...

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... and one without... I couldn't decide which one I liked better. It is a very pretty setting.

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Sylvan had read that the best view for the changing of the guard was from Victoria Monument. As you are facing Buckingham Palace, you want to be on the LEFT side of the monument.

Europe05LondonVictoriaMonument

 

We were standing around for thirty minutes or so when we heard the band coming up the street. From where we were standing, we could see the band coming up the street.

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There was a huge crowd but we did have a good view of the entering and exiting of the Palace gates.

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It was all very exciting.

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From Buckingham Palace we walked to the Westminster station. They were preparing for the September 24th international protest against the Bush Administration's war in Iraq, which we knew was also taking place that same day in San Francisco, New York, Paris and elsewhere.

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We then took a train from Westminster to St. Paul's Cathedral. We had been here on the tour at the beginning of our trip but this time we paid the admission fee and looked around inside. Although it is impressive, we had by this time been to St. Peter's at the Vatican, San Marcus in Venice and the Duomo in Florence. It is hard to compare to those. I have included a link to the church's website if you want more information though. We were getting hungry by this time and although there was a cafeteria in the basement next to the crypt, we decided to eat elsewhere.

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After we left St. Paul's, we took the tube to Covent Garden and had fish and chips at Rock and Sole, a place recommended by our "London Top Ten" book. It came to $41.00 for a couple pieces of fried cod with some steak fries, sides of cole slaw and a couple sodas, but by this time we were more used to European food prices. It was tasty fish and chips. In San Francisco you can get comparable or maybe even better on Larkin street... can't think of the name of the place right now.. but when in London...

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After leaving the Rock and Sole, we went back to the hotel for a nap. We were pretty exhausted. We had been traveling and on the go about 19 days at that point. There had been another time change between Athens and London and it was getting late in the afternoon and we had been on the go that day from early morning. Milton took a nap and Sylvan ran across the street to the Internet cafe to check e-mail and send some off. When Milton woke up he was thankful for the big tub at the hotel and he took a good soak and it helped his sore legs.

We had read that the British Museum "grand court" was open until 11pm and were not sure what a "grand court" was but thought we would check it out since we wanted to go to the museum anyway. We set out for the nearest tube station which was Russel Square. It took us a while to find the museum but we enjoyed the search since it just gave us an opportunity to see another area of London.

 

After finding the museum and seeing what a "grand court" was, we went to Leicester Square. We had planned to eat at "Walkabout" which was recommended somewhere along the line but when we got there, we discovered that after 9pm, it becomes a nightclub. The doorman there recommended walking a block down to Chinatown to eat and pointed us in that direction. We wanted to see London's Chinatown anyway and so we headed off. It was interesting but relatively small if compared to Chinatown in San Francisco. We seemed unable to decide on a restaurant though and were concerned because the tube would close at 11:30. Europe05Londonchinatown
We decided to get back on the tube and go back to Gloucester and eat at a place we had seen previously called "Lone Star Restaurant." Country western music was playing and the smell of cigarette smoke was strong when we got there. Apparently London does not have smoking restrictions. There was not even a "nonsmoking" section. The food was pretty bad. The Spanish rice that Milton had was bland. The taco consisted of chile flavored beef with cheese on it in a fried tortilla shell- no lettuce or tomato. Sylvan ordered the bbq chicken and ribs. The boneless chicken was breaded and deep fried and NOT bbq. The ribs were way overcooked and barely edible. The best thing about the dinner for Sylvan was that they had blue cheese dressing for the salad. After 19 days of restaurants that only served oil and vinegar for salad dressing, blue cheese was delightful.

9-25-05

We got up around 9:30am and had another great breakfast at the hotel. Sylvan went to Gloucester Rd and Cromwell to the souvenir/post office to buy some postcards and souvenirs. We then took the tube to Tower Hill station and bought our tickets for the Tower of London. We had read that we should get there at 10am when it opens and then should go directly to see the crown jewels before a que forms. We did that and were among the first in to see the jewels and were able to take our time. Then we went back to the entrance where the actual tour would begin. The Tower of London is 900 years old. If you are interested, you can click on this link for a "virtual tour" of the tower.

 

 

 

Here is a picture of our "yeoman" or tour guide. He was humorous and interesting.

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One of the eight Raven's with clipped wings that are kept at the Tower (there is a whole story that goes along with the Raven's). I thought this one was going to attack us. He came running toward us and then jumped up on the fence in front of us and I snapped this picture... then he went past us and away... I think I heard him say "nevermore..."

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More pics of the Tower.

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And another...

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Traiters gate...

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A display of medieval armor

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Milton outside the Tower of London.

 

After we were done seeing the Tower of London, we headed back to Russel Square to go to the British museum, the oldest museum in the world, and this time we actually got in to see some of the exhibits.

They had several rooms of Egyptian mummies.

 

We saw the Rosetta stone which was a discovery that lead to the ability to read hieroglyphics. I thought it was interesting that the first word that was deciphered was the sound a cat makes: meow.

 

 

There were many treasures from Egypt.

 

 

I am not sure how the Egyptians feel about the British taking so many of their treasures.

 

 

There was an entire Greek temple in the museum. It was really incredible that the British had dismantled this entire temple and brought it back to London.

 

We had read about how the Greeks felt about the Elgin marbles that were taken from the Acropolis in Athens. They want them back. We also read that the Greeks had been allowing them to get destroyed though and some would say that Elgin rescued the marbles. This is only one segment in a huge room lined with these.

 

 

More Greek artifacts that the British took from Greece. We did not have time to see it all of course. There are many place in the world you can go and run out of interesting things to see or do but London is not one of them (or Paris, Venice, Florence, Rome or Athens for that matter).

 

After taking a nap, we set out to find Abbey Road. It was our last evening in London. According to what we had read, we needed to go to Baker Street station. We got as far as Edgewater station and the train we were on went out of service. Finally after some confusion, we got on another train and got to Baker street but then the attendant there told us that we really needed to go to Saint John's Wood station and that was not in walking distance and the train that normally would take us there was out of service and we would have to bus it. It was getting late and we were tired and were leaving in the morning and decided to go eat instead.

Coming out at the Picadilly station, I liked the look of this street... it seemed so typical London...

 

 

Here is my last look at Picadilly.

9/26-05

We both slept pretty well but were awakened by the creaking of the floor above us. It sounded like the guest above us was pacing. Although we had asked for a 7:30 am wakeup call, we were already awake by 7. We finished packing, took our showers, and went down and had breakfast.

Here is a pic of the houses along the train tracks on our way to Gatwick airport for our return flight home.


 

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Article

01. Introduction

03- Dads Family

03- Photos of my Father and his family

04- My Mother's Family

04- Photos of my Mom

04- Video of my Mom

04- Walling Family Reunions

04-Audio Files of My Mom

04. Billie

04. Ole

04.1. Forbidden Dreams of Love

04.2. Flames of Forbidden Love

04.3 Mom Writing Her Life Story

05- Jim Tarbert

05. Roger

1950's Grandview to Toppenish

1957-1958 1st Grade

1958-1959- Third Grade

1959- Palouse

1961- 4th Grade- Last time I wore a dress

1962- Abilene

1963- Escondido- Early 60's

1964- Darlene Marries Chuck

1964- My Beatle Haircut

1964-The Luv Please

1965 or 1966- Steve Castle

1965- In Foster Care

1966 Living with Darlene & Chuck in Seattle

1967- Juvenile Hall

1976- I Praise Thee (poem to Stanley)

1976- My Second Lover, Stanley Dunne

1976- Paul McCartney and Wings

1976-1330 Bush Street #9J

1977- 1667 Haight Street

1977- Trip to San Diego with Mary Jo

1977-1980- Tumultuous Relationship with John Perry

1978- 525 Haight Street

1979- September- Dad is Murdered

1980's- AIDS- Death and Dying

1980- Winter- First Trip to New York

1980- Word, Sound and Power

1981- Milton- Falling in Love

1982-1993 465 Waller Street

1982-1994 Computers to MacNursing

1984- 33rd Birthday

1985- Graduation from Nursing School

1985- Trip to Hawaii (Oahu)

1988- MIdnight Caller

1989- Earthquake!

1991- Aug 10th- Mom Passes Away

1991- Black Males in Oils

1991- Crack of My Life

1993- Move to Vallejo & Our First Home

1995-1. Road Trip to Washington

1995-2. Surprise Trip to Vegas

1995-3. Grandmother Rogers & Aunts Visit Darlene's

1995-4. Amber

1998- Camping at Russian River

2000 -Thoughts about Progressive Christians

2000- Resignation from John George

2001- April- Trip to Cancun

2001- Peace and Justice

2001- September 11th

2002- April-Puerto Vallarta & Blue Bay Getaway

2002- Nov 12th- My Stepfather, George McHenry Passes Away

2003- Trip to D.C. and N.Y.

2004- Feb- Road Trip to Baha Mexico

2004- Walling Family Reunion in Spokane

2005- Christmas Poem

2005- Darlene Visit for Pride Celebration

2005- Trip to Orlando

2005-1. Europe- London

2005-2. Europe- Paris

2005-3. Europe- Venice

2005-4. Europe- Florence

2005-5. Europe- Rome

2005-6. Europe- Athens

2005-7. Knee Surgery & Tongue Biopsy

2006 Christmas Poem

2006- February 23- Times Herald

2006- Palm Springs White Party

2006- Trip to Seattle

2006-July 8th Solano Peace and Justice Coalition BBQ

2007- Feb- Carnival Destiny- Our First Cruise

2007- Tre and Casey Visit

2008- Aug 15-18 Spokane Visit

2008- Psycho Song

2009- Honored by Vallejo Gay Network

2009- Women in Oils

2010 Christmas Poem

2010- Feb. R.C. Mariner of the Seas Mexican Riviera Cruise

2010- June 24- Badlands

2010- Trip to Seattle

2010-1. Europe- Amsterdam

2010-2. Europe- Paris

2010-3. Europe- Barcelona & Sitges

2010-4. Europe- Madrid

2011-1. Feb. My Fabulous 60th Birthday Weekend

2011-2. April- L.A., Palm Springs & "The White Party"

2011-3. Poem- Girl From Medical Lake

2011-4. Old Man Dancing

2011-5. May- Misty and Alex Visit

2011-6. August- Darlene and Sean's Visit

2011-7. Alex 16-18 & Pics

2012- March- Carnival Splendor Mexican Riviera with Family

2013- Wedding

2014- Christmas Poem

2014- First Gay Cruise

2014- September Road Trip to San Diego

2015- Seasonal Affective Blues

2015- Second Gay Cruise

2015- War on Christmas poem

2015-"Badlands" and Gay Bar Etiquette

2015-September 8. Political History

2016 Do Not Speak for Gay Males

2016- April- Palm Springs RV Adventure

4/4/2016- Not Going Along to Get Along

9/4/15- Liberals vs Conservatives

The Psychedelic Experience- Click to read story.
2001 Trip to Cancun- Click to read story.
Escondido 1960's- Click for story
1970's Promiscuity- Click for story.
2005 Darlene Visit for Gay Pride- Click for story.
5th Grade in Abilene Tx- Click for story
1957-1958 1st Grade- Click to read story.
1958-1959- 3rd Grade- Click to read story.
Second Gay Cruise- Click for story.
1973 "You have to be hurt..." Click to read the story.
Beatle haircut- Click for story.
Cockettes & Angels of Light- Click for story
My Dad's Family- Click for story.
1974- First Trip to Europe- Click to read story.
2005- Darlene Visits for Gay Pride- Click to read story.
My Mother- Click for more photos.
Gay Disco 70's- Click for story
Amber- Click to read story.
Palouse- Click for story
2001 Trip to Cancun- Click to read story.
Women in Oils- Click for story
Click to read "Introduction."
2014- Road trip to San Diego- Click for story.
2015- 2nd Gay Cruise- Click to read story.
1973- Psych Tech Program- Click for story.
2015- 2nd Gay Cruise- Click for story.
Grandview- Click for story
4th Grade- Click for story.
1982-1993 Waller Street- Click to read story.
Darlene Marries Chuck- Click for story.
Me in 3rd grade- Click for story.
1964- Luv Please- Click for story.
1974- On Larkin Street- Click for story.
Summer of Love- Click to read story.
Me in my 20's in 1970's- Click for story.
Earthquake! Click to read story.
Me in first grade- Click for story.
Forbidden Dreams of Love- Click for story.
Photos of Dad & His Family- Click for story.
Where I was born- Click for story.
Black Men in Oils- Click to read story
1967- Summer of Love- Click to read story.