Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Back in Brighton...

...for a two-day visit with Amy, before we head back to London to catch our respective flights, she to home and I to Rome. Yesterday was another eventful one in London, with Kate, Amy and I making up for a late start by whizzing through our whirlwind tour of planned activities. We started off at Speaker's Corner, which was completely deserted, possibly due to the heavy fog and threatening rain. We walked through a chilly and quite empty Hyde Park to Buckingham Palace, then frolicked through daffodils on our way to Westminster Abbey, breezed by Big Ben and the House of Parliament and Number 10 Downing Street (the Prime Minister's house) and paused briefly at the National Gallery, where Kate and I spent one and a half of the two hours we had until closing time sitting in the cafe deep in carrot soup and conversation. Then we met up with Amy, who had briefly departed to try to meet Harvardian friends at a nearby tea room which turned out to be rather sketchy and devoid of said Harvardians.

We headed off into the rain to the London Bridge area to find the Anchor pub, apparently frequented by many a literary great of old. After walking through a glorious neighborhood filled with crazy signs like "This is not a photo opportunity" and a giant "TAKE COURAGE", as well as some warnings about thieves which had Amy worried, we found the pub, and sat and drank and talked for a few lovely hours under the watchful eyes of a portrait of Shakespeare. We then went in search of an Indian restaurant for dinner, and managed to find The Bengal Clipper, at which we were attended by about seven waiters, all of whom seemed quite miffed at our failure to order drinks. We ordered a chicken curry, a chicken kebab in egg, and a spinach and cheese dish and split them all, which made for exciting variety.

At the end of the meal we glanced at our watches and were shocked to discover it was past 11, with poor Kate scheduled to leave in four hours to head to the airport and back to Rome. We raced through the rain in search of the Underground station, which was unfortunately just off the edge of the map we had brought, and all got soaking wet, since Kate and Amy decided that if I was going to refuse to get under the umbrella, neither of them would use it, either. In this sopping rush we undertook our viewing of the Tower of London ("Look, there it is!" "Where?" "That castle thing!" "That's not a tower!" "I'm soaking wet!" "Well, use the bloody umbrella!" "No!" "We have to go, guys!" "Bye, Tower!") Which I think is the only way to view such quintessential landmarks, personally...

We did manage to find the station, finally, just before midnight hit and our day passes expired. On the ride home, as we dripped slowly dry and laughed at the madness of our day, a young man slipped in just as the doors were closing on an interim stop before our own, and we remarked admiringly on his skill and agility. It was not until after we had exited the train that we realized he had had just the height, build, hair color, and cheeky smile of our Masked Avenger from the Santa Barbara road trip! And to top it all off, as we turned the corner to our apartment, a security guard car drove slowly up beside us, slowing when we slowed, stopping when we stopped, and rolling down his window. He pulled over and parked as we turned back up the street to avoid him, and as we crossed to the other side of the street to find an alternate route home, we realized it could only have been Mr. Giggles. You know, I bet he's the Masked Avenger's arch nemesis! In any event, they both clearly felt the call of the conjunction of me, Kate, and Amy, and spent the first two of our days in London travelling to encounter us there from whatever part of the world they had currently been respectively rescuing and terrorizing.

We decided to stay up with Kate as she packed and prepared for departure, to keep her company and see her through the taxi cab fiasco, in which the cab company she had called to reserve a taxi from the previous day called ten minutes before her scheduled departure to inform her that they had no taxis responding in the area, and to give her the number of another company to call. That company, too, first agreed to pick her up and then later called back saying that no one was available, although eventually they pulled through with someone, and fortunately Kate was able to make it to the airport on time to catch her flight. Amy and I promptly crashed, and headed off the next morning to catch the megabus to Brighton, where we are now. We cooked a yummy dinner of pasta with veggies, and watched the first two episodes of the delightfully cheesy 1981 BBC TV series of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. More adventures to come, as always! Love to you all!


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