Derailing the London Underground
01.04.2013 - 03.04.2013
View 2013 on TulsaTrot's travel map.
This being my fourth trip abroad (sixth overall) with young adolescents, I decided to add London to the itinerary. I assumed it would provide a shorter flight resulting in less jet lag and an easier transition for students being in a foreign country where the language was their native English.
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The first day always proves to be the most taxing physically on students and chaperones. Upon touching down at London Heathrow in the early morning, we dropped bags off at the hotel, put on some warmer clothes, left the premises leaving no time for lollygagging. We hit the London Underground dragging us over to the London Eye, the London Tower, and Big Ben.
Baseball players protect them with uncomfortable equipment. Fathers take great to avoid direct hits from the haphazard actions of children. So you could say that the family jewels are pretty important and protected at all costs.
The Royal Family in London is no different, yet they label theirs the Crown Jewels and they take great care of them as well. With great care, they placed theirs inside a castle with a violent past, London Tower. They have surrounded their family jewels with thick glass, some passive observers, and a single man at the entrance with a huge afro and a machine gun.
Even with mounting fatigue from a day of airports and planes, the Crown Jewels were well worth the wait in a biting cold wind. The building that housed the precious stones had several rooms detailing the history of the Royal Jewels. The final dark room displayed the ornate crowns of successive kings and queens. It appeared that each successive King or Queen tried to outdo the previous head of the Royal Family with even more diamonds and rubies. I can only imagine seeing royalty on a sunny day as a task requiring fortitude of squinting.
A very long day left everyone desiring a bed, or even a quiet piece of real estate that would give some type of respite. So we jumped on the London Underground back to our hotel and thought we would call it a day. Yet, a traveler’s plans rarely follow the most convenient route.
Despite various recommendations that students visit the toilets before we left with no toilets in the Underground, some didn’t heed that advice. Two metro stops from our hotel, I was made aware that one of our students had to go the restroom immediately or they would literally explode, and who really wants to deal with that type of mess on your first day of travel with students. I looked over and saw said student bent over in a state of physical discomfort. We had to go now or there would be a spill on aisle Underground.
Fortunately when we jumped off the metro and set off in search of a toilet in an unknown land, three levels of escalators and stairs to street level awaited us. Once we escaped the Underground maze, we were in nothing but residential area. I mentioned to the student that he may have to duck behind a tree, but after traversing a couple of blocks we ran into a small guest house that fortunately allowed us to use their toilet. A major spill had been avoided.
For a metropolitian area not known for it’s food, one place did make a lasting impression. Our buffet breakfast at the Novotel London West proved to be the absolute best breakfast buffet that I have ever had the joy to be a part of. Yes, breakfast included smoked salmon with cheese!
Our day and a half in London left much to be desired with regards to that finicky weather, but undoubtedly, it’s a place that I would like to explore more in depth in the future.