Author: Ed De Guia
Date of Trip: November 2012
London in November ?? My friends and colleagues wondered why I would ever go on a trip to London in November. Even the travel guides did not favor a trip to London in November – cold at 10-12 C and rainy. However, the date was set (11-6 to 11-15) and there was no getting around those dates. Besides, I could get airfare for under $1000 per person roundtrip on economy class (AA). I could get a better prices on Aeroflot but my wife rejected that. Turkish Air was in the price range but I did not want a long layover in Istanbul. Plus,If you wanted to visit the Turkish city, you had to apply and pay for a visa.
So we booked with AA – for an overnight stay in London and then 6 days in warmer Barcelona. We planned for no luggage for an easy check in at LAX (I had no printer so I could not print boarding passes at home). Not to worry because AA personnel at LAX were very helpful. We passed security in less than 20 minutes with our carry-ons.Make sure you have the liquids in a plastic bag and lay it on the bin for insoection.
Our flight had a layover at Dallas-Forth Worth from 5 to 8 pm. All over the airport, passengers watched the election returns. This was one of the most exciting layovers- three hours was not enough to watch if the president would win or if Romney would upset the Obama trend. There was no flight delay and we would have to wait a little longer to find out who won.
It was the the pilot who announced on the overhead that Obama may have won as we approached a Heathrow landing.
Heathrow was routine and London was cold- we made it thru passport in 20 minutes and we had nothing to declare at customs. It was on to get our Oyster cards reloaded. Oyster is the way to go if you are short on time and budget-watching- You could travel the London subway (called the underground) and all the city buses.
We hopped on to the Piccadilly Line in no time (welcome to the constant reminder of “Mind the Gap” as the subway doors opened and closed at each stop). On to Hounslow.
Hotel for us was at the the Ibis in Central Hounslow – clean but nothing fancy. Room was ready even though we arrived before 2pm.Nice! Continental “eat all you can” in the morning. Nothing special.
Back to the Piccadily line and London in no time.
We stepped off (by this time, we were minding the gap !) the subway and surfaced on Piccadilly street near St. James. A couple of blocks later we headed down Horse Guard Road. Aha, the building and the sandy frontage looked familiar ! So this was where Misty May had made Olympic volleyball history a few months ago.
We were pressed for time so we opted for a quick look at Big Ben. Our goal was to visit the Westminster Abbey. Veteran’s day was coming and the abbey grounds were decked with little white crosses and memorials to the war dead. So there you go-November is the time to visit the abbey if you want to see this poignant tribute to men and women who perished in “London’s finest hour” so to speak.
Inside the abbey was like a cemetery of Britain’s Who’s Who. Don’t miss Sir Isaac Newton, the coronation chair, the poet’s corner and all the kings and queens galore. Many visitors stopped for a moment as the minister delivered a short prayer for President Obama.This was a very special visit at the abbey for me.
The cold was getting to my wife as we stepped out and we walked towards Big Ben. A quick view of the London eye and we headed towards Trafalgar Square. Thank god, there was a Macdonald’s on the way. It was too dark to see the lions on the square and my wife was not interested to see Covent Garden at night. So much to see but we had to rest and head back to Heathrow next day for an 1120am flight.
And so we learned this time in London – “Mind the Gap” and be patient with Heathrow security (the scanner beeped at my wife’s carry-on, possibly due to the curling iron). And then we “carried on!”
Barcelona ? That’s another story- Gaudi, Picasso,Dali,Miro, Montserrat,Montjuic,Barri Gothic, Las Ramblas and the Vaga Nacional ! Viva Espanya!