It is remarkable that only a tad over 100 years have passed since the first flights of the Wright brothers. Air travel has come so far since then. However, it still sucks. We began in Cairns by dropping of the campervan, a bittersweet moment, and getting a taxi to the airport. We felt pretty fancy since we’ve been taking nothing but public transportation. I almost forgot what taxis do. “You mean to say,” I wanted to ask the cab driver, “that we can get in this car and you will take me directly to my destination with no stops and without having to sit next to any obnoxious/smelly/frightening people?”
At the airport we did what we do best—we waited. Our first flight was to Hong Kong and I dramatically underestimated the amount of time it would take to get there. I was thinking about 4 hours, but it was actually 7. Layover of 3 hours in Hong Kong. Flight from Hong Kong to Zurich: a brief 12 hours. Flight from Zurich to London: 2 hours. Total travel time: 75 days. Then it was the tube, a bus, and finally we got to Claire’s house where we were graciously invited to stay for the four days that we would be in London. And since London waits for no man, we immediately took off to see the sights.
We took the tube into central London and from there walked around and saw all of the major sights. I couldn’t resist quoting Chevy Chase when we spotted the Parliament building across the river: “Hey kids—Big Ben, Parliament.” London is a beautiful city, but it is exhausting. After a full day of walking around we were ready to get back to Claire’s house.
We had not stayed in an actual house this whole trip, so Claire’s place was a special treat. She made us a tasty dinner and later she and her boyfriend Andrew took us out to the local pub and treated us to drinks because Andrew felt sorry for us that the dollar was so scrawny compared to the pound. We had a lovely time getting caught up, but Claire and Andrew had to leave for a wedding the following day, so we had to go it alone for the next three days. Thanks so much for everything guys!
We went up to Highgate cemetery which is a fairly large, very posh cemetery. Marx is buried there so we went by his grave which has a statue of his giant head perched on top of it. Douglas Adams has a very simple rectangular stone with his name and occupation on it. We also visited George Eliot and I told her how much I enjoyed Middlemarch. I very much enjoy cemeteries, and although I don’t think I want to be buried in one, I would like to have a giant stone monument erected in my honor and I like to walk around and get ideas for what I would like done.
We visited Freud’s house which has been turned into a museum. When you walk into his study with all of his books, his couch, all of his items from his collections, you can feel his presence. Not like a ghost, silly, but the feeling that once he was sitting right there writing a letter or reading a book was palpable.
I got the same feeling when we visited Darwin’s house. Darwin’s house is in the countryside just outside of London. I feel that London’s transportation system is top-notch if you want to get anywhere in the city. If you want to go outside of the city, that’s going to cost you some time and money. Bus, tube, National Rail train, bus at the cost of about $30 for both of us was what it took to get to Downe. Downe is one of those sweet little towns that you see in calendars, but there isn’t much to do except for visit Darwin’s house. The restoration of the house and the creation of the exhibits at Down House was quite well done. The house and gardens were fairly large and of course we got to enter the very room where Darwin penned The Origin of the Species. That right there was worth the admission price. Plus we got to walk around and look at all of the books that he owned. I always find that fascinating.
On our last day we wandered around the British Museum and most of the city killing time until we could board our 11:00 PM bus to Edinburgh. Yes, we could have flown there instead of taking a 9 hour bus ride, but can you get a plane ticket for 2 pounds? I think not.