Thursday, August 10 London
Thursday morning we met our friends Penny and Paul who took the motor coach from their home in Taunton to London to see us. From 11:30AM to nearly 6PM we walked along the Thames starting and ending at the Hammersmith Bus Station with stops for coffee and lunch along the way. The Thames has miles and miles of bike/walking paths along the shores on both sides of the river. We saw and photograph a beautiful and unique (at least to us) multi-colored flower along the way. Paul figured that we walked 7 or 8 miles. It was cool and cloudy, but a very nice day for walking and talking which we did for almost 6 hours. After we said our goodbyes they boarded the bus to Taunton and we took the city double decker bus back to our hotel. We ate dinner at an Asian restaurant, and watched more of the Olympics. It’s so exciting to watch the young athletes in their prime.
Friday, August 11 More of London
We took a bus bright and early to Buckingham Palace to see what the queen has done with the place. Reservations are a must and we had made ours before we left home last spring. We spent the whole day there. Our visit which was styled “The Royal Day Out” (because the Queen is in Scotland for the month) and included audio tours of the exhibits: Butterflies as portrayed by a 17th century naturalist/artist whose works which accurately depicted the 3 phases of the life cycle with audion interpretation by a modern butterfly expert, European painters whose works are owned by the royal family and do not presently adorn the walls of the palace. There are many, many others that are owned by the royal family and hung in the palace, but photography was not permitted in the palace itself, so we had to settle for these.The tour also included a massive display of Queen Elizabeth II’s dresses and hats (photography not permitted) over the decades.
There were about 20 rooms where the queen entertains and holds official functions which left about 760 rooms and 71 bathrooms that we were not permitted to visit.
We also visited the Royal Mews where they keep the royal carriages including the incredible coaches used in wedding and coronations. Only 2 horses were in residence as the queen is away and has taken her entourage and the horses and dogs with her.
The palace is only open to the public when the queen is away at her Scotland Castle which is about 1 ½ months each summer. The place was quite crowded with the couture exhibit having the longest and slowest lines. We enjoyed the visit immensely. It was about 6 hours on our feet as a tourists.
Saturday August 13 London to Heathrow airport hotel
After a wonderful breakfast spread in the hotel, we loaded up everything we own and rolled on down the road towards Heathrow. It was 10 ½ miles with only minimal traffic as it was Saturday morning and things were quiet. We arrived at the Heathrow Ibis Hotel at noon, checked in, ate our lunch and packed the bikes. The task was done and the boxes closed at 5 pm. Dinner of fish and chips at the neighborhood pub and a beautiful sunset capped off a long day.
Sunday, August 14 London Heathrow
At 8am we boarded the free bus to the airport (three stops) and then the tube into town where we visited 4 of the weekly Sunday street markets including Petticoat Lane. They were well attended and very colorful. We love these kinds of events even though we know that in most cases, we will not buy anything. These markets were huge and featured items for sale including clothing (usually quite cheap and only marginally made) food (some recently on the hoof and much ready to eat from 40-50 countries and of every variety), Knick Knacks, souvenirs, meat, fish, cheese, candy, random items and everything else you can think of.
After our afternoon cup of coffee, we took the tube and the bus back to the hotel where we finished packing and went to bed early.
Monday, August 15 London-Grand Junction
We can’t believe the trip is over. What a fantastic 3 1/2 months of riding. All of our flights were on time and immigration and customs in Houston were a breeze as was going through security. We arrived in GJ at 9 pm and were met by our travel buddy, Jane, who came with our car and goodies so that we did not have to stop at the grocery store on our way home. We got to our house at 10 p.m. (about5 a.m. our body time) showered and went to bed. It’s good to be home.