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December 28, 2000 - December 13, 2001
14 Days in Nepal

Getting there is half the fun - Spending the Day in Jolly Old England
My itinerary alone was rather daunting. Leave Newark 9:25pm on Thursday, December 28. Arrive in London 9:05am, December 29. Leave London 10:15pm on the same day and arrive in New Delhi at noon on Saturday, December 30. Leave New Delhi at 8:15pm and arrive, at last, in Kathmandu, Nepal, 10pm on Saturday night. I guess that wouldn't be bad for a seasoned traveller, but being a newbie, it was quite intimidating. The flight to London was quiet and nice. I didn't sleep. I read a lot though. For the longest time, all I saw was the black night, having no idea where the sky ended and the ocean began. But as we approached our destination, the darkness slowly began to give way and I was able to witness a miraculous sunrise over Ireland. Unreal. When I got to London, I was a little tired, but figured that I could sleep on the plane later that night. I had no idea if or when I'd be back in London, so I figured I'd take advantage of my twelve hour layover and see some sites. I got some pounds at the ATM and I found my way to the Tube, or underground, or subway, whatever you want to call it. I asked the lady where the best place to get off to "see some stuff". She said Piccadilly Circus. So that's where I went.
It was actually pretty awesome walking around central London alone. The English are very un-intimidating and they speak the language, so I felt ok. I went to Nike Town, London and watched all the double decker buses go by. Towards the end, I luckily stumbled upon Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. In this picture, check out the jet in the upper left. It's pretty cool. When I first saw Big Ben, I didn't even think that it was actually Big Ben because it wasn't, um, big. I had to go into a gift shop and check out a post card of Big Ben to confirm my sighting.
Sure enough, it was Big Ben. The tower itself is amazingly intricate. Very detailed. I'm glad I found it though because it was exciting to see it up close and personal.
On our approach to Heathrow airport, I got to see Big Ben from the air, but seeing it in person was classic. And for some reason, all I could think about was that scene in National Lampoon's European Vacation when they kept driving past Big Ben and Parliament. This picture is a shot of Westminster Abbey taken from the end of the park that lies adjacent to it. The park is along the River Thames. It was cool seeing that as well, especially after all those years of playing the board game, Scotland Yard, when I was young.
I guess I was lucky that it was perfect walking weather while I was there. No snow, no rain, and yes, not even any fog. All the while, I was wearing my new hiking boots, so I'm sure I definitely broke them in by walking about ten miles in London.
This is one of my favorite pictures. It's a shot of Westminster Abbey, looking up at it, standing very close to the base. Very post-card-esque. But don't worry, that's not the last of the good ones! It's crazy how many tourists are around that area. Big Ben and Westminster Abbey are right next to each other. And across the street is Buckingham Palace. So you go to this area and you can go home. You can hit like every main London landmark in five minutes. I'm sure there's some other sites to see, but these were the only ones I needed to see.
I was looking for a place to eat in London and everything was so damn expensive. You think NYC is bad?? I ended up getting a bagel and a bottled water. Might as well splurge, right? The guy asked me for ninety pence or something like that. But the only denomination of British money I know is the pound. So to be safe, I handed him a ten pound note. I came home with like a ton of British coins. Those things are heavy.
I'm still not fully sure if I saw Buckingham Palace. I think I did. If it's what I thought it was, I was very unimpressed. Looked pretty dumpy. I guess I associate palace with, I don't know, luxury, extravagance. But I saw the Queen's life guards. That's the guy you see on the horse. I'm guessing they'd be at Buckingham Palace. Who knows. But these guys are all serious and they're the ones that don't smile. Life guards. Interesting. I got to see the changing of the guards. That was kind of cool. So it was a busy twelve hours and a very successful sojourn, but Nepal awaited...

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