Well, here it is, almost 2 weeks later and I'm finally feeling like I can somewhat articulate my trip. It's pretty sad that it takes me 2 weeks to recover from a trip these days, but I gotta say that it was a busy 8 days there and super busy when I got home. Before I tell you about London I will answer the question that many of you have asked, "how did they do at home?". The truth is that they did great, but they missed me...a lot. I have to say that I love the fact that David and I have become such a team. It has taken many years to accomplish that, but the Lord has taught us to rely on one another and when one of us is missing we feel it. I love that the Lord takes the prayers of our hearts and accomplishes them almost without us knowing it and then one day we recognize what only He could do. That is what this trip showed both David and me. God has made a team out of two very independent people and that is miracle of no small proportion.
About my trip...Friday morning I got up and went down 6(yes that's SIX)flights of stairs for my traditional English breakfast which I very much enjoyed. After breakfast I climbed the stairs back to my room....only my room was not at the top of the stairs. I was in room 11 and the numbers at the top of the stairs were in the 20's. I was huffing and puffing and I swear I looked around like "is this a joke? How could this tiny hotel have two sets of stairs?" So, I crawled, I mean walked down the stairs only to find that yes, I had climbed the wrong stairs. Amazing. So, I hiked myself up the right stairs for the last time.(I wish I had taken some photos of those stairs, but I didn't) I checked out of the hotel, leaving my bags for Antonio to retrieve :-) Off I headed, by myself, to try to ride the tube and find the place to pick up my London pass. One thing about being in a city where everyone rides the tube and walks, they think walking blocks to a tube station is no big deal, so several times I would be told, "oh, just go to the such and such station and get on the tube, its right down there" and then I would walk and walk and walk and finally get there. Well, my first experience on the tube was like that. I walked a LOT and finally got where I needed to be, then I got back on the tube and made it back to my hotel which was a HUGE accomplishment. The best L25 I spent was on the taxi ride to my new hotel. There was no way I was going to struggle through the tube stations lugging my luggage again!
After getting settled in my new luxury hotel Sarah came to meet me for lunch. That evening we saw the Lord of the Rings musical for Sarah's birthday. It was the most amazing show! I'm not really a LOTR fan, but this show was so phenomenal. I highly recommend it. That night my friend, Leslie and her daughter Rebecca arrived around midnight.
On Saturday it was off to shop at Portobello Road. That is London's idea of a huge flea market. Huge amounts of booths, food and people. Truly a shoppers paradise. Big problem...I'm not really a shopper. I'm what you call a spender and since I didn't have any money to buy any stuff it was just a lot of walking for me. But, if you want to spend lots of money I would suggest a visit to Portobello. That afternoon it was more walking in a park near our hotel. By the end of that journey I was one tired pup. That night we celebrated Sarah's 21st birthday at a marvelous little Italian restaurant.
Sunday morning was wet and dreary and we attended a Spirit filled church service. It was so sweet and international and just what my weary soul needed. Sarah attends this church on a regular basis, but still we got lost. When we finally found the church God met me there in a very real way. It was just precious. After church I told Sarah I was so glad she persevered and didn't give up. I would have quit looking and missed the wonderful experience God gave us. There was a couple there who gave their testimony. The wife was in a wheelchair and she shared about her active life before the brain tumor. She talked about God's faithfulness through all the changes in her life. Her sweet husband shared about the struggles as the primary caregiver, but then he said "this is what I signed up for...better or worse, in sickness and in health". It made me weep then and brings me to tears as I remember it. I want to know God's goodness so well that I never question Him. The other sweet thing for me was all the Asians in the service. I just loved it. After church and lunch Leslie, Rebecca and I headed to the Imperial War Museum. Another spiritual experience for me. This was such a surprise to me. I LOVED this museum! It was all about the World Wars. A person could easily spend all day in the museum and I had about 3 hours. I visited the Children's Museum which was about the children that had to be evacuated from London during the World War II(like the characters in the Narnia movie). I was near tears from the beginning. It was amazing. After that I went to the Holocaust exhibit. I felt like I was on hallowed ground. Seriously. That night it was dinner at Wagamama's Chinese restaurant. Not my favorite, but hey, we had a bogo coupon so that's where we ate.
Monday had us visiting the London Zoo. Surprised? Not if you know me. My favorite was the butterfly display. Again, no big surprise there. The butterflies were amazing. I tried to get photos, but I doubt they turned out. It was really humid in there. That afternoon we visited Kensington Palace. They had a tribute to Princess Diana which was really neat. I took pictures there before I got caught. Actually, I had no idea that I wasn't supposed to take pictures there, but the little guy that told me to put my camera away clued me in. Apparently I have some "bootleg" photos. Lots of them.(They didn't catch me until the end of the tour.) That evening it was Westminster Abbey for Evensong(boring, sorry, but boring)and then off to see "Wicked". My second great show in London. It was amazing. We ate pizza at 11pm just for fun.
Tuesday was our day trip to the country. We visited Winsor Palace(sorry no photos-they made it clear at the beginning), the Roman Baths in Bath, and Stonehenge. It was a long day, but my favorite. I loved the countryside dotted with sheep, rolling hills and farm houses. It was beautiful. We arrived back to the hotel in time to meet Sarah for dinner at a local pub. I made the huge mistake of ordering a burger....mad cow disease anyone? The burger arrived at my table and after cutting it I smelled a really rotten smell. Seriously like rotten hamburger. I can still smell that smell. It was horrible. I told the waiter that I thought it was bad and next thing you know the manager shows up acting all offended b/c I didn't like the burger. I wasn't rude at all, I promise, I just wasn't going to eat it. He gave me a chicken sandwich to go, but I couldn't eat. The smell had totally ruined my appetite. Oh well...I was ready to go home anyway.
Wednesday found me on the train for Gatwick airport after a lovely chat with my cabbie. The airport was really crowded and so after a long wait to check my bags I headed to security. During this trip I realized again that I forget to enjoy the journey. All I want is to arrive at the destination. Once I'm where I'm supposed to be I am fine, but I am not able to relax until I get where I'm going. I'm thinking God might want to change this in me. I'm sure Sarah would. Well, as I am headed into security I'm getting toward the relaxed mind frame when suddenly there is some drama. They found my bootleg photos of Kensington Palace...just kidding. Actually they said I could only take one bag as my carry on INCLUDING MY PURSE. What? Who ever heard of a woman's purse counting as a carry on???? Well, I tried stuffing my purse in my carry on, but it made my bag too big to fit in the allowed space. The guy in security said I could go check the bag I intended to carry on. I said, "go back and wait in that long line again?" He said, "yes." I said, "You have to be kidding. I flew in here with these bags." He said, "well, you haven't flown out." I told him I would repack the bag. So I stopped right there and began to repack my bag.(At that moment I knew David would've been so proud of my ingenuity)After spending a little while repacking my bag they let me through without remeasuring it. God was gracious. Those Brits weren't. What a negative impression to leave on a tourist. I was happy to make it through with all my stuff and very thankful to be heading home.
Well, that is more than I'm sure you wanted to know, but there it is. My London trip. It was a great 8 days and I'm so thankful for the experience and to be with Sarah on her 21st birthday. As it stands today she will be home in just 5 days. Yay! Thanks for reading. May you find God wherever He has you. Love, js