Saturday, May 16, 2015

Day 3 - Whirlwind Day

Evening...or should I say morning to those folks back at home?  Whew, what a day!  We're starting to get more used to getting around here on the Tube and the bus...Hubs had planned out how we were going to get around everywhere but we threw our plans to the wind today and mixed things up and had a long and very productive day out and about...or should I say oooout and aboooot?  Bah ha, Canada jokes.

On the schedule for today was to head down to check out Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square and the Churchill War Rooms.  When we got down there, you could tell where most of the tourists were...jam packed with people, it was absolutely heaving.  Shoulder to shoulder with everyone, we took the requisite pics of ourselves with Big Ben and traipsed over to Westminster Abbey to check it out.  We couldn't for some reason buy these tickets online first, so we looked at the massive lineup and thought screw it.  We don't need to go that badly but because we were fairly early, we decided to go to Churchill War Rooms and then to the Imperial War Museum, which was actually what we had planned for tomorrow.

Churchill War Rooms was totally was an underground bunker very close to 10 Downing St, and it showed all the rooms and tunnels where Sir Winston would hang out while he and his cabinet made all the decisions surrounding the war effort.  Totally amazing to be there.  At the very end of the very well done self guided tour, there was a little book store and I was captured by a very small book in Churchill's own words about his love of painting.  He took up painting at the age of 40, and was actually quite good...this really caught my interest as he talks about the need for one to have hobbies that use a different side of their brain, which is exactly why I wanted to try a bunch of art projects this year.  Always using my logical left side, I've been trying to wake up the dormant right.  Me and Winston, we're down like that.

After the War Rooms, we headed to the Imperial War Museum which was absolutely massive.  Five full floors of a huge building filled with all sorts of war memorabilia, Hubs and I loved it.  However, we were exhausted by the end of full floor was dedicated to the Holocaust...definitely not the most uplifting of subjects and I felt beaten down by the end of it, the both of us left feeling pretty tired.  I really felt myself moved by the stories and the pure awfulness of it all...heavy stuff.

Now sometimes things happen for a reason and today the planets aligned!  Hubs was looking at some travel stuff and saw that the Madame Tussaud's was opening up a new Star Wars exhibit today of all todays!  We hadn't initially planned on going there at all but thought why not?  Because today was such a full day already, we figured we would go down and pick up tickets for tomorrow as it's not that far away from where we're staying.  As we walked in, it was dead and at this point it was around 6pm...we decided to heck with it, rather than come back we were already there and we'd had a late lunch (finally had my fish and chips!) so we decided to just go in.  Madame Tussaud's is all grouped by type so movie stars, athletes, singers, etc. were all grouped together.  Now I'm not gonna lie...some of them are bang on (Rhianna was freaky in how much she looked like the real thing) and some of them...meh, not so much (Obama looked nothing like Obama) but we managed to get some pics of me fondling groping sitting with George Clooney and a melodramatic pic of myself with Jennifer Lawrence where I'm pretending I'm a downtrodden ally from District 12.  After seeing all the mannequins or whatever they're called, there is this kitschy "Spirit of London" ride where they go through the history of London with you, and then you head into the Marvel section.  Not knowing what to expect, we were led into a theatre where there is a totally cool 4D show where your seats vibrate, it feels like you're being punched in the back and they spray you with water!  Everyone was getting quite the kick out of this and you could hear all the kids squealing with delight and a huge cheer burst out at the end of it.  As we were led out, what did we hear...

*deep heavy breathing*

Knowing Hubs is a massive Star Wars fan, he could barely contain himself from sprinting to the exhibit like an eager little boy!  Now I'm not the biggest Star Wars fan, but I gotta say, it was pretty darn cool.   I even managed to trot out my acting skills for one pic that I'll save for my photo post to come...the attendants at that display got a huge kick out of it, so I'll definitely post it for your viewing pleasure.  So this turned out to be the perfect palate cleanser after a heavy day of war stuff, and I have to say I enjoyed myself way more than I thought I would have.

Now...the food?  How was the Lebanese you ask?  Not gonna was a meat filled delight.  It was absolutely packed at this placed called Maroush, but the line went quickly and we were in in about 15 minutes, and were tucked away in a corner table at the back of the restaurant which was perfect.  We ordered hummus and grilled halloumi for appies...the hummus was quite different in that it wasn't terribly garlicky, in fact I don't know if there was any garlic in it at all!  But it was still really yummy and we devoured it up with some lovely thin flatbread.  The halloumi came up next, which for those of you who haven't had it before, it's a salty cow cheese that is kind of like mozzarella but quite salty.  Totally delish.  For mains I ordered the lamb shwarma platter and Hubs ordered a lamb metzi plate.  Now most platters I have back at home, they give you a bit of meat with some veggies and bread.  Not this place...the whole thing was meat, meat and more meat, and while I was hungry, I couldn't finish it all.  We packed it up and as we walked out of the restaurant, there was a lady pandhandling so Hubs gave her our leftovers as there was quite a bit of lamb and halloumi left...I hate wasting food, so glad that someone could enjoy the food if we couldn't.

So today was a whirlwind day!  As Rick Steves advises, planning your trip ahead gives you the freedom to play things by ear, which is what we did and we had the best day.  Tomorrow is the end of our free time in London...we move from where we're currently staying (the Sumner) to the hotel for the tour which is just down the street (the Cumberland) and tomorrow night we meet up with the rest of the tour folks for a welcome reception and a night of food and drink.  During the day it's more leisurely with a trip to the London Eye and likely just some meandering about town but sometimes those are the best kind of days....looking forward to what tomorrow brings!

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