Thursday, 02 April 2015 16:25

2005-5. Europe- Rome


Sylvan and Miltons European Adventure 2005

Rome

9-15-05- Day 9 (continued)

The train to Rome was supposed to leave at 12:25. We stood in the train station trying to figure out what track it was leaving from but apparently our train was delayed somewhere along the line. Finally our track number appeared on the large display we were watching. We ran to the platform and boarded. We finally pulled out of the station at 1:10pm.

The trip to Rome is about two and a half hours. We sat with an older couple who appeared to be American. They were not very friendly.

It was another warm beautiful day (Milton said "hot"). I love warm weather. Milton describes his first impression as "people moving at a frantic pace." We got of the train in the station and watched for the big orange letter "M" for Metro. We found our way but there was no kiosk to buy tickets as there had been in London and Paris. There were machines but we were too tired to figure those out. In Rome you can buy your tickets at tobacco shops. We found one nearby and got a three day pass.

 

We were going to the Spagna stop which is adjacent to the Spanish Steps. We walked out of the station and the "steps" were about a hundred steps to the right and we could see throngs of people gathered there.

In the 17th century Spain's Ambassador to the Holy See had his headquarters on the square, and the area around it was deemed to be Spanish territory.

 

 

 

We were looking for V. Della Croce, which was where our pensione would be located.

 

We found it pretty easily as it is only about a block from the Spanish Steps. The cobblestone streets here are also filled with people as they had been in Florence. Occasionally a scooter, motorcycle or car tries to squeeze by but Rome is another city in which a tourist should not try to drive. It would be crazy for an American to try to drive in ANY of the cities we visited. There are a lot of sidewalk cafes on our street.

The shops in the Spanish Steps area are upscale. All the famous designer's have shops here like Gucci and Prada. It is like the Rodeo Drive of Rome.

 

We find the doorway for Pensione Panda that opens to the street at 35 V. Della Croce. Our double room there will be about $126.00/night which seems like a pretty good deal for such a great location.

 

 

But first you have to climb a flight of stairs to the second floor of the building to find the Pensione and there is another door there. It appears there might be another pensione and some apartments located in the same building as had been the case in Florence.

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Once entering our room, you had to put the key card into a slot to turn on the electricity. Without the card in the slot there was no power.

Then we had to climb a spiral staircase to our room which seemed to be in what was probably an attic at one time.

The room they have given us is actually a triple. There is a king size bed with two nightstands and then another single bed. The ceilings are open beam and slant down from about 16' over the king size bet to about 5'6" over where the single bed is and since we are both 6'4", we keep bumping our heads when we go to that side of the room. The floors are tile.

We notice there is no t.v. and it feels pretty warm in the room. It appears there is an air conditioner but we can't figure out how to turn it on. Finally I go down the front desk to ask and am told that the air conditioning costs an extra 6 euro/night. We gladly pay that as the room is still a great deal. The air conditioning is set up so that it goes off automatically if you open the window (we should have that at home since we often realize we have the air conditioning on when a window is open and just wasting energy).

 

You have to step down to get to the bathroom and the ceiling there is probably 6'. Neither of us can actually stand up straight in the bathroom. We notice the room has a bidet. This is the first bidet we have seen and are not really sure how it is used and so we never do use it.

One thing that is different here is that the towels are extremely thin, cirsp and white. They are more like tablecloth material than towel material- i.e. they are NOT terrycloth.

There is no counter space on which to put anything around the sink but we have a great little toiletry set that has a little hanger. That was a good investment as many place we stay have no counter space and the toiletry set pretty much holds everything we need.

Outside the bathroom is a tiny closet with a depth of about a foot.

 

The shower is tiny again with folding glass doors but there does seem to be plenty of hot water.

 

 

 

We took a brief nap and then decide to go for some fast food since we are too hungry to look for a sit-down restaurant. There is a McDonalds about a half a block to the right of the Spanish Steps as you are facing them.

 

I took a picture of Milton in front of the Spanish Steps. One thing we notice in the throngs of people in Rome is that there are very few black people. Rome is not as multicultural as Paris or London. In Venice, Florence and Rome, most of the black people you see are African men that sell counterfeit designer purses, posters, sunglasses and watches. Along with some Italians too, a group will suddenly appear on the street and lay our a blanket with the goods they are selling. They will haggle over prices. If a police car appears, everybody bundles their stuff up and then they disappear.

Occasionally you will see a few Asian tourists or what appears to be a African-American tourist but mostly you just see Italians.

 

 

After eating a couple of burgers, we walked to the Pantheon. It was rather late in the evening. We would visit a couple days later and actually go inside. It was built in 118-126 AD. That is old.

Click here for a site with a great Quicktime 360 degree pic. Just drag your mouse on the pic. Then click your "back" button to return here.

 

From there we walked on to Piazza Navona where there are a lot of street vendors and street entertainers. We sat on a bench for a while here and people watched. There was a group of fire dancers that were dancing with and juggling torches. It was a beautiful evening and we were in short sleeves as we had been every day and every evening on our trip for the most part.

9-16-05- Day 10

We asked at the front desk if breakfast was included with our room but were told it was not. We went out on V. Della Croce and stopped at a sidewalk cafe on the corner without looking at the menu or prices. It just didn't occur to us since we just planned to have a couple croissants, coffee and oj. We were shocked when we got the bill. It was a lovely setting though and I guess that was what we were paying for- expensive ambiance.

Today we were going to take the Green Line tour of Rome so we took the metro to the Roma Termini station to find the tour operator which was located a couple of blocks away from the station. Along the way we discovered that there was a MacDonalds across the street from the Roma Termini that had a big sign that said "American Breakfast." After our experience that morning, we would keep this in mind.

We found our tour operator and got our tickets which were 21 euro each (about $25.00). This is another hop-on, hop-off tour but it was not an open air bus as we had in London and Paris. There was a "hostess" on the bus but she was not actually a guide. I didn't really see the purpose of her other than to tell us to plug in our headphones. I think most of us could have figured that out.

Through our time in Rome, I saw that there were several other tour operators that had the open air buses and some seemed to have much longer hours as we would see people touring even after dark. The air conditioning on our bus was nice since it was warm, but I think I would have preferred the open air bus since it is easier to take pictures along the way and would have enjoyed touring in the evening too. I would not recommend Green Line Tours for those reasons..

 

I took this picture from the tourbus window of the Roman Wall. Some parts of the wall date from 378 B.C.. It is just amazing to us when we are seeing things that were built before Christ was even born.

 

You see ruins of the Roman Wall at various places in Rome. We took this picture when we were walking around a couple days later.

 

Here is another picture of the Roman Wall.

On our tour, we also saw the Circus Maximus and this was another picture I took from the bus.

We spent the morning on the air conditioned tour bus, listening through our earphones about the sites and history of Rome. Sometimes we got a pretty good view of the sites but sometimes the bus stop was away from the actual site and you had to walk from the stop. After the tour, we went to the "Ciao Autogrill" restaurant at Termini station. We liked the Autogrill chain of restaurants around Rome because you could put together a pretty good meal with a salad and could point at what you wanted and everything was fresh and it was relatively cheap. Like almost everywhere else in Europe though, the only salad dressing offered is oil and vinegar.

If you are interested in some of that kind of stuff, click here for a great website of links on Rome.

When we finished the tour, we took the metro back to the Colosseum stop.

Click here for a link to a site that has a Quicktime 360 degree picture of the area. Just move your mouse on the pic for the 360 degree view.

 

 

 

The emperor Titus opened the Coliseum in AD 80 with 100 days of games in which 9,000 animals died. For more history on the colossum, click here.

It is an amazing structure that that is almost 2000 years old!

 

We found somebody to take our picture.

Then we stood in line and bought our tickets to go inside. As you approach the colosseum there are tour hawkers trying to get you to take their tours and they will tell you that you will be standing in line for up to two hours if you don't take their tour. We only stood in line for about twenty minutes though. The colosseum itself had their own tours though and also self-guided audio tours. We opted just to look around on our own.

You could see slanting areas where the marble seats used to be but most of the seats were removed when the colosseum was turned into a quarry and was stripped of the marble.

 

 

From the second floor of the colosseum, from a balcony, we could see this arch and so I took a pic.

 

When we were done exploring the colosseum, we went down to take a closer look at the arch. The Arch of Constantine was built out of pre-existing materials in 315 AD.

From there, we wandered over to the nearby Roman Forum.

Click here for a great map of the forum I wish I had when we were there.

The ruins of the Roman Forum are scattered over a surprisingly large area.

Click here for another one of those great 360 degree pics.

These three columns from 7 BC and 6 A.D built for the Temple of Castor and Pollux are over forty-eight feet high.

The Arch of Septimius Severus, was built in 203 A.D

 

Click here for 360 degree pic.

Temple of Antoninus and Faustina which Antoninus pius erected in memory of his wife, Faustina, in 41 AD .

Click here for 360 degree pic and more info.

The Roman Forum is a huge area and is exhausting. It is exhausting. You just can not take in all of it in the short time that we had there. We had to move on.

 

After leaving the Roman Forum, we walked up the hill to the Victor Emmanuel Monument which was built relatively recently in 1885- 1911. Soldiers in WWII used to call it "the wedding cake" building. This is also where Italy's tomb of the unknown soldier is.

From there we walked back to our pensione. Milton stopped along the way to get a USA Today to see what was going on in the U.S.. Then we stopped at a little meat, bread and cheese store to get some bread and cheese. Sylvan asked the man behind the counter if they had cheddar cheese and he grumbled that they only had Italian cheeses. There was a discussion in Italian between the men there, and then we were offered a slice of white cheese. It wasn't exactly cheddar but it tasted good sow we got some of that and some bread to take back to the room with us.

After taking a nap, we headed out for Trevi Fountain. The pics we took are on the right but you can click here for a Quicktime 360 degree picture.

This is Milton in front of Trevi Fountain. Again, there were throngs of people out on the streets. There were a couple of hundred people hanging around the piazza where the fountain is located. Maybe that is another reason people in Italy look like they are in so much better shape than Americans- instead of being couch potato's sitting around eating in front of a t.v. set, they all seem to be out on the streets walking and hanging around socializing with each other. It felt as if instead of passively sitting in front of a t.v. Vicariously watching others live soap opera and sitcom lives, the Italians get out and live real life themselves... ?? or something like that anyway... everybody is out on the streets on these warm wonderful nights in Rome... and again, because of more sensible gun control laws, there is not the same kind of fear of crime as there is in the States...

This is me in front of Trevi fountain.

After leaving Trevi fountain we caught the metro to Cavor to street to try to find a gay bar we were going to check out but it was still pretty early and it had not opened yet. We took the metro back to the Termini station to transfer to the A line but discovered the A line closes at 9:30pm! We were told we could take some bus which we never could find but somebody else said we could take the #125. Without translation we were a bit lost. Of course we probably could have just got a cab but that would have been too easy and then we would have to deal with feeling like we were being ripped off by a cab driver. We found our way on the bus though and everything was fine.

 

We did have to walk a few blocks though and we stopped and got dessert along the way. We passed this Column of Marcus Aurelius along the way.

When we got back to the room, it seemed like there was a contest to see who could slam their room doors the loudest It was Friday night and apparently some rowdy young people had checked into the hotel to party. We couldn't hear them other than a lot of door slamming.

9-17-05- Day 11

Milton got up first and had trouble getting hot water although when Sylvan got up, he had no problem at all. We got dressed and headed for The Vatican.

Click here for another Quicktime 360 degree pic of St. Peter's Square. And then here or here for others.

 

It was Saturday and there were a lot of people and the line was very poorly organized. We had to go through metal detectors to get in to the basilica and they did not rope off the line in any organized fashion. It was just a mob of people pushing forward toward the metal detectors.
The sun was hot and there was no protection as we pushed forward through the crowd. I guess they want you to feel like you have had a religious experience here since getting through those metal detectors felt like a miracle and one felt like giving thanks you had survived this chaos.
Inside the church was breathtaking. It was beyond words. For pics taken by others at www.virtualtourist.com, and more information, click here.
Bernini's canopy. You see this on Christmas eve if you tune into the midnight mass from the Vatican. It is interesting to note that the alter is over the actual tomb of St. Peter.
Michelangelo's masterpiece "Pieta" is located inside the basilica. You can click the link I have provided for a better pic and more information.
   

Saint Peter was apparently crucified in what is now St. Peter's square.

The bronze cross on top of the obelisk in the center of St. Peter's square contains a "sliver" of the cross on which Christ was crucified which was brought back to Rome from Jerusalem by St. Helena.

After an hour or so looking around St. Peter's Basilica, we decided to look for the Sistine Chapel to see Michelangelo's masterpiece on it's ceiling. I had seen in it 1974 and was eager for Milton to see it to. Since 1974 it had been "restored" and there was some controversy about the intensity of the colors when they wiped away centuries worth of dust and grime.

We asked what of the Vatican guards how to get there but as it turned out, the Sistine Chapel closes at noon on Saturday! Of course we were disappointed but on the other hand, we had seen so many treasures on this trip all ready that most people will never see, we couldn't bring ourselves to complain much.

 

We took the metro back to Termini station for lunch. I noticed the metro train had a lot of graffiti on it. We had also seen a lot of graffiti when arriving in London and had seen quite a bit in Paris too and would later see it in Greece. I guess graffiti is universal? It had just never occurred to me. As we went through our trip though, on a couple of occasions, ancient graffiti was pointed out to us...so I guess it is both universal and timeless? It was just one of those things that I usually would have just attributed to inner city pubescent boys acting out... it is interesting how travel can change your perspective.

After lunch we went back to Spagna and we got some postcards and magazines and went back to our room for a siesta.

Sylvan't knee is bothering him and so we take it slow. When we walked outside we found it had been raining. We walked to the metro station and it seemed like a lot of people are getting off at the Spagna where we are getting on. People seem to linger everywhere in Rome.

The subways in Rome seemed more packed in the afternoons around 3pm and into the early evenings to about 8:30pm. I am not sure why this is. In San Francisco they would more likely be packed in the early am about 8am and in the afternoon around 5. Rome's are much more packed than anywhere else we have been though. They are hot and humid like the one's in Paris. Milton get's fed up with the heat and humidity on the trains and after dinner is ready to just go back to the room and rest.

9-18-05- Day 12

Milton did not sleep well. It rained off and on through the night. We have to get a one day metro pass because our three day pass is expired.

We had planned on taking the two hour train to Naples and then going to see Pompeii today but we were just too tired and Sylvan's knee was bothering him to do a lot of walking and so we just stayed in Rome and we did a little more exploring there. Along the way we saw this typical piazza.

 

 

We had seen a metro stop named "Pyramid" and we were curious to see what was there. At the Pyramid metro station, you find another part of the Roman wall with this pyramid built into it. This pyramid was built during the last years of the Republic (1st century BC).

From there we took the metro to the Circus Maximus station to explore that area some more.

The most popular events in ancient Rome were chariot races held in the Circus Maximus, an arena that held up to 300,000 spectators. Now the area that used to be the racetrack is filled in and there is a park there.

As we were walking up the street near hear, there was a little stand that was selling fresh slices of watermelon and we stopped and each got one.

After enjoying our slices of watermelon, we walked about two blocks to the Termi di Caracalla. This was a huge bathing facility built between 212 and 219 A.D. by the emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, better known by his nickname Caracalla.

In the summer, they do Opera here. When I had visited in 1974 and had more time in Rome, I had seen the opera Aida here. It was quite a spectacle with live elephants and camels on the stage between the two towers you see on the right. If we would have had more time, I would love to have seen another production here.

We saw the mosaic on the right.
After visiting the baths, we went back to Piazza Navona and looked for Souveniers.

Then we went back to the Pantheon and went inside. It is free.

We went for lunch at the Autogrill again and then went back to the room to prepare for departure from Rome the next morning.

After a little nap we decided that wanted some American food and went to the Rome Hard Rock. It is located on the Via Venato. There was about an 90 minute wait but they gave us pagers and so we could wander around a little. The Via Venato is famous from the movie La Dolce Vita.

In San Francisco we would never go to a Hard Rock cafe since we think of them as too "touristy." We also think of the food as being overpriced and mediocre. After days of overpriced mediocre Italian food, the Hard Rock was a welcome change for us. We really enjoyed it. Our waitress was Filipino and we enjoyed talking to her about her immigration to Italy. This was particularly interesting because there seemed to be such a lack of multiculturalism in Italy and there are many Filipino's in the S.F. Bay Area. She was very friendly and fun.

We had a flight to catch the next morning so we headed back to our room.

 

 

Published in Fifties
Tuesday, 31 March 2015 17:50

2005-1. Europe- London


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. 

 

 

 

Europe05Londonmontanaroom

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.

 

Europe05Londonmontanaview

 

 

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

Europe05Londondowningstreet

 

...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.

Europe05Londonmodernlondon

 

 

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

Europe05Londontrafalgarsquare

 

 

...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.

Europe05Londonstpauls
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...

CIMG1724

...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...

Europe05Londonzoomacrosslake

 

 

 

... 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.

Europe05Londonprotest

 

 

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.

Europe05Londonstpaulsinside

 

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...

Europe05Londontube

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.

Europe05Londonyeoman

 

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..."

Europe05Londonraven

 

 

 

More pics of the Tower.

Europe05Londontwoer

 

 

 

And another...

Europe05Londontower

 

 

 

Traiters gate...

Europe05Londonarmour

 

A display of medieval armor

Europe05Londonarmour

 

 

 

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.


 

Published in Fifties

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

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

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