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Mar 16 2013

London

panorama

The first day across the pond is always hard. An overnight flight and hopping right into the touristing makes for a bit of jet-lagged bleariness as you stare slack-jawed at things you have only seen in pictures before.

My best advice for dealing with jet lag? Set your watch to the time at your destination as soon as you get on the plane. Power through the next day with some strong Italian coffee and don’t go to bed until bedtime. Not terribly creative, but it works for me.

The UK's favorite for good reason. YUM!

The UK’s favorite for good reason. YUM!

It did leave my brood pretty hard to impress at the British Museum at the end of the day! Piles of amazing antiquities that had been “liberated” by the British on display still left them tired and grumpy and wanting to know when dinner was going to be. Note to self…no museums at the end of a long first day.

The area of London we are staying in must be Little Persia. I have seen Turkish, Moroccan, Iranian and no less than 7 Lebanese restaurants during our walk from the tube. We opted to try one for lunch and had the kind of meal where everybody eats off everyone’s plates. Falafel, lentil soup, lamb, chicken stew and pastries with savory fillings all found a place in our belly.

Next was a trip to Vodaphone to sort some local phone numbers out with only a bit of strangeness. Being able to text and call someone else in my family while overseas if we get separated is a bit of security. They will give you a local SIM for free as long as you put some credit on it (they call it a “top up”) and the plan is actually about perfect for a week in the UK. Just make sure that your phone is GSM based and not locked from international use. T-Mobile and ATT are already on the same bands, but beware of Verizon and Sprint as they are on the non-compatible CDMA standard. If you have a iPhone4s or above, even the Sprint and Verizon versions have both radios already so they will work abroad if they are unlocked. Call your provider before you leave to check this.

It took a bit longer than it should have because we had some SIM strangeness. Their warehouse had labeled them with wrong numbers and the manager was totally mystified when the only person that I could not call on the new number…was my wife’s new number. She could call me…I could call him…or even Buckingham Palace, but not my wife. I think I am going to hold out and get SIM from Three for my iPad. Their system finally started magically working but it was a bit strange and made us late to get back across town.

Back across town to the London Eye that is! Not officially a Ferris Wheel but that gets the eye across and the view (see the panorama above) is spectacular. You can see almost all of London’s big tourist sites from it and gives you a great way to get the lay of the land of London.

Parliament weighing heavy on my shoulder in this selfie

Parliament weighing heavy on my shoulder in this selfie

A blustery, rainy day seems to make the Parliament building even more iconic than usual. The walk back across Westminster bridge makes for spectacular views of both Big Ben and the Eye, even in the cold and wet that is the traditional London weather.

parliament

A cold, wet trip through the rain-swept streets of London brought us back to our hotel for some long-delayed rest with a short detour for an Italian dinner to warm us up. One thing I have found about London is that the rent is so high that restaurants don’t tend to last if they are not good. While it does pay to plan ahead, if it has been there for a while it is likely worth stumbling in off the street…even if you do look like a wet rat!

Tomorrow will feature the Portabello Road Market, High Tea and a trip to Westminster Abbey!

2 comments

  1. Becky Bahas

    Living vicariously through you!! Loved the first day comments! How I remember the haze of the first day!! Have a great trip!!

  2. Jeff mac

    Thanks! Just left the Tower and stopping for a proper fish and chips!

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