Sunday, November 23, 2008

It's Cold, But At Least We're Wet

London is an interesting place. We've learned that the difference between Eccleston Street. Eccleston Place, Eccleston Square, and Eccleston Bridge is about 1 1/2 hours of walking in the rain. Yes, our hotel is on one of them, and we've learned that it is not on three of them.

This part of London, about 2 blocks from Buckingham Palace (they say Bucking-um here), looks a lot like you see in the movies. I tell you almost every building looks like every other. They all are multistory rectangular buildings that all run together. The picture on the hotel's website does absolutely no good because every one looks just like it. We went in to a Starbucks so that I could ask the gal behind the counter where the address was. She took the paper in to the back room, and when she came out, she said, "It's straight down that way. Good luck." I commented to Nancy, she said Good Luck, that's a bad sign. And it was it ultimately turned out to be exactly in the opposite direction. Meanwhile, we traipsed in the rain (Is traipsed part of the Queen's English) for quite awhile trying to find the place, until I had the brilliant idea, why don't I call them, I have the phone number for crying out loud. Our cell phones are useless so we went in to one of those famous red phone booths they have all over. But apparantly Americans are so dumb they would actually press all of the 50 or so digits in the number they list, because it does not work. I thought that it must be a subset of them, but no matter how many of them I entered I could not get the phone to dial out. And yes I did put 40 pence into it. Then I had another brilliant idea: why don't I get our London guide book out and look it up. Of course it was in there and we were able to go right to it. All of this while it was raining, we were dragging all of our luggage behind us, and we were going on 24 hrs. awake.

It was too early to check in, but they did allow us to drop off our luggage. Now we are in a mall nearby, and Nancy and Mark are sound asleep here in the food court. Well someone needs to stay awake and they apparently conspired and voted that it would be me.

We were able to buy an adapter for our American plugs here, so we will be able to keep our computers running while we're here. The package literally lists 150 countries it works for, but Ukraine is NOT one of them. What's up with the Ukrainians?!! No matter, we already have a Ukrainian adapter anyway that the Tolly's have loaned us.

It's been fun striking up random conversations with the locals around here. The people we've talked to have been friendly. We all get a good laugh about the coins. We just hold them out and let the cashiers pick them. They have 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50-pence, and 1-pound coins. It gets confusing because they are different sizes than we are used to. For example, their 10-pence looks like our quarters, and their 5-pence looks like our dimes. Or is it the other way around. Not many of them have heard of South Dakota, but they've heard of Mt. Rushmore.

One other thing I noticed, when you come to a crosswalk, they paint on the street, "<-- Look Left" or "Look Right -->" It's a good thing because they drive in the opposite lanes here. Those double-decker busses do not slow down at intersections, I am glad that they have the messages painted on the streets. More than once I looked in the wrong direction.

It's 1:19 PM now, we'll be able to check in at 2:00. Maybe I'll just close my eyes and rest a little...oops not a good idea...


We were able to get checked in to the hotel. The girl working at the desk is funny. she speaks with some kind of accent. I mean other than British of course. We were hoping earlier that they would just let us do an early checkin. It is actually an apartment, "flat" as they say. Nope checkin is at 2:00 come back later. When we came back later it was about 1:50 PM. We were hoping we could get in, but she said no, it is not the "procedure". I told her we had jet lag and really needed to rest. Nope. So we sat on the couch next to the desk to wait. Later while we were sitting there, someone else came in and she spoke... Russian.


Anonymous said...

I am so happy to hear you all made it safely! Sounds like a rough start . . . . hope you can get some rest. Thanks for keeping us updated!


Jeri said...

Are you at the Elizabeth Hotel? The entry looks a lot like the pic you posted but, as you said, a lot of buildings look just the same. You might ask someone who works in the hotel if you have one of those washer/dryer combo machines how to do it. All I ever managed was to get shocked, both in London and in Kyiv. Make sure you take a double decker tour...some of the tour guides are not only knowledgable but funny!

If you see the regular Union Jack flying over Buckingham, you can go tour. If not, it's I believe it's called the Regina (not sure at all about that) and it's the queen's own standard which means "she's at tourists allowed". Glad you guys are on your way. Maybe you can buy some "crackers" for Christmas while you're there. Remember this: chips are fries, crisps are chips, biscuits are cookies, and they are all expensive! Have fun, Jeri

MamaPoRuski said...

Did you ever figure out the green flashing lights? We thought it meant to walk across the crosswalk, but apparently not when we almost got run over and honked at by the cars! LOL! Hope you are rested when you fly to Ukraine! God Bless!

Anonymous said...

glad that you have made it to london-an interesting city--we were there when our daughter studied abroad there about 10 years ago... but i am sure it has changed some since then--yes see the sites.. they are so neat! it is fun keeping up on you--blessings to all of you-john and kris kieffer

Anonymous said...

We will enjoy hearing your tales as you travel. We continue to pray for you and your new children!

Love, Val

Paula said...

Enjoyed reading your blog today--sounds like you guys will have lots to laugh about thinking back on this trip. Sparkle is doing just fine--she is such a great dog!! Very well behaved and we are really enjoying her--Greg most of all and I think Sparkle likes Greg most of all too. Hope the weather improves for you guys--have fun & keep writing. --Paula

Alan said...

Jeri: Yes it is the Elizabeth hotel. You are obviously knowlegeable about London!

Alan said...

It's nice to hear from the rest of you. Paula, I'm glad Sparkle is doing OK. Is she still moping? She'll get over that soon.