This past weekend we made a whirlwind of a trip to London. Cam was invited with the rest of the Fulbright teachers to a reception at the US Embassy. We couldn't turn down an opportunity to see London or the Embassy so we made the journey which started at 8pm on Thursday night. We took a short flight from Belfest to the Stansted airport and then got on a train that took us into the heart of London. From the train we took a cab. This was the first cab ride for Iva and the kids. Quite the experience, to be sitting backwards was the highlight for the kids. We made it to the wrong hotel by midnight and by 1 am we were finally tucked into the right beds at the right hotel. We were exhausted.
The next day, Friday, we took another cab to Buckingham Palace. We got there right in time to see a clean up from a bomb threat and for the changing of the guards. It was our lucky day. We took a stroll through St. James' Park, which turned out to be one of the kids' favorite places. There were so many different types of tame wildlife that the kids enjoyed running after the squirrels, ducks, pelicans, swans, and pigeons. I mean you can't get better than that. Gabe really wanted us to take a picture of a squirrel as he saw that all the other tourist were taking them so it must be something worth capturing on film to which Cam promptly replied, "Gabe it's a squirrel." Of course just then an Australian stepped up to take a picture of one. The Australian laughed and said that we don't have these where we come from so they are worth a picture. We all giggled at the thought of what some of us hold as rare others regard as common. It's something that is a present reminder to us every day living in another part of the world.
That evening we went to our reception at the US Embassy. Again there was a miscommunication between the Fulbright advisor and the Embassy so we all arrived 30 minutes early. So, my kids got their first experience in a pub. It was very crowded but we found a corner and huddled over our "chips" until the time came for us to go back to the Embassy. It was great to talk to other American teachers who are experiencing the same trials and joys. For most of us this was the first time to debrief.
On Saturday, we went on the Original Bus Tour through the city. This was my favorite part of the weekend. We saw the London Eye which is a giant Ferris Wheel that overlooks all of the city. We saw Big Ben, Tower Bridge (which Ian built a model of last year so that was exciting for him to actually ride across it), St. Paul's cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Marble arches, war memorial to the animals, Tower of London, London's Dungeons, and much more. It was a great way to see the city.