Our flight from Detroit to London's Gatewick airport was uneventful, except every time Mike got a package of food he would methodically spill it over the poor soul in the seat next to him. Our plane landed at 7:30 AM London time which equates to midnight our body's time. Now, normally that wouldn't be too bad if you were allowed to go to sleep immediately after arriving, but being the adventurous type, we decided to explore the city after we located our lodging for the evening.
Now, if you recall from yesterday's brief discussion, Mike was charged with finding lodging for this trip. To put it nicely, Mike is a cheap-ass. You have two hotel choices in London. Full-blown hotels which cost greater than $120 a night and hostels which cost less than $20 a night. Mike chose to go with the cheaper alternative. Please keep in mind that Mike is not a complete idiot as he was aware that hostel would be youth centric (Doug, Sabrina, and Mike are 29, 28, and 23 respectively.) What he didn't know was that they would have to share their room with a 17 year-old French kid name Dancette and there would be a very loud pub underneath their room. Other than that, we have bunk-beds, access to showers, and a location that is very close to an Underground station. What more could you ask for?
Our intention with Day 1 was to do very little drinking. As we would later find out, that was wise decision. Well, if we're not going to drink, that leaves sight-seeing. For three people going on virtually no sleep, we must have set new tourist endurance records. We managed to stay upright until 8 PM London time, that's 33 hours without sleep. We are soooo stupid.
The sights we saw included:
Tower bridge - improperly referred to by Americans as "London Bridge", this bridge spanning the River Thames is still functioning as a draw-bridge. The actual London Bridge is a block to the East and of modern construction.
Tower of London and the Crown Jewels - England's first palace/fortress. Originally built by William the Conqueror, the fortress is surrounded by 20 towers and a moat. Inside the walls you can find nearly 900 years of British history. The highlight of the tour is the Crown Jewels which includes the world's largest cut diamond (1,000 karats) and all the ceremonial jewelry used by the royal family.
The Underground - The Underground (subway) is the quickest and easiest way to get around London. Seems like we spent most of our time in the subway.
Harrods of London - In search of Beanie Babies for friends, we were led to London's largest department store, Harrods. This store is huge, and it has just about everything you could ever imagine...just like John's Much to our disappointment, and wearing legs, they don't sell Beanie Babies.
For lunch/dinner we ate at the Brasserie Bar atop the OXO Tower. We had read somewhere that his particular café was well known for its selection of beers and wonderful view of the city. In reality, it was a French restaurant with virtually no beer, and a nice view of the city. Despite these shortcomings, we were starving so we accepted defeat and ordered. Mike ordered a Newcastle (turns out it was the bottled variety) and Doug had a Black Sheep Ale (also bottled.) Neither were particularly outstanding. Combined with the severe lack of sleep the 16 ounces of ale made Doug and Mike almost immovable. Perhaps with some sleep things would pick up tomorrow (like our feet.)