Friday, October 14, 2011

Our Day at the London Eye

Ok, so it's been months since I wrote about my 2010 trip to Europe. My computer broke and I've just gotten it back. So let us now continue with my saga of "My year of living erroneously". (keep an eye on the black cloud that was hanging over my case you don't the few posts previous to this one regarding 2010...I had lost my job and then totaled my car.)

When you are vacationing in Europe you don’t let a little bit of arctic freezing cold rain get in the way of a good time. I’m sure I’m not the only one of us who felt like I lived in my long johns and wet tennis shoes. My scarf had pretty much adhered itself to my body. We would bundle up as we were leaving our apartment building because to do so even one minute earlier would result in passing out from the heat. Once we got outside it was a whole different story. Noses would run. Eyes would water. Hair would frizz. Cheeks would turn bright pink. We were a stunning bunch! Our plan for this day was to walk over to the London Eye. Katie and I had wanted to go on it since the minute we got off the plane but couldn’t convince Tori and Rebek to go on it with us. So on this very rainy day Katie and I decided to go on it without them. Neither Katie nor I wanted to admit that we were terrified of heights so we put on our brave faces, got our cameras and our monkeys and stood outside in the rain and waited in line. The London Eye never stops rotating even when it is loading and unloading passengers but he rotation speed is so slow that you can’t even feel it moving. I was very happy to see that there was an air conditioner in each unit, (and thus we wouldn't run out of oxygen) and the glass capsule was large enough to walk around in if you so chose.(two very big deals for the claustrophobic!) It only took a couple of minutes for me to realize that there was nothing to be afraid of. The ride was smooth. There was plenty of oxygen. The view was amazing. I’m hooked!

After our ride on the London Eye Tori and Rebek were supposed to meet me and Katie at the rides exit. Some people don’t know how to follow directions and thus Katie and I were forced to walk around and try to find them. I found this guy instead:This is Bruno from "Dancing With The Stars". He is much shorter than I imagined. Sorry this picture is so bad but I got in trouble for taking his picture while he was giving an interview, so this picture was taken with my zoom from about a mile away.

It took us almost an hour to meet up with Tori and Rebekah, to this day I don't know where they were when they were supposed to meet us right next to the London Eye. (bone heads.) Katie and I told them what a fantastic time and we just about begged them to give it a try but what I think convinced Tori to go for it was when we told her about the amazing photo ops up there. We managed to convince both of them to go on it and Katie and I were more than happy to go on it again.

This is what the pods looked like:

This was inside the pod:

This was the view from the pod when were even with Big Ben: This was the carnival at the base of the ride. You can see the bridge over the river Thames. ("Tems") This bridge was in one of the Harry Potter movies...but I don't know which one.:(

Cousin Katie:

After all was said and done Tori and Bek admitted that the London Eye was awesome and were sorry they hadn't gone on it sooner.

In the winter months there is an ice rink just below the London Eye. Rebek was the only one brave enough to strap on some skates and give it a whirl:
We had a wonderful adventure at the London Eye and it was a day I will never forget, but it wasn't because of all the fun we had this day. When we got back to our flat Tori and I found out that our beloved cousin Gary had passed away. She and I adored this man and it was a loss that neither one of us were really prepared for. Gary had been ill off and on for the last few years but, like my father, he would get sick...go to the hospital and get better and come home. Sadly this time he didn't come home. He and my dad were partners in crime so I'm sure there was a terrific reunion when Gary reached the pearly gates. There is no doubt that my dad met him there with a Coors for each of them. Rest in peace you two. (yeah, right!)

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Tate Modern

On one of the few days that we got up before sundown we took off on a walk down the banks of the Thames. We weren’t really on the banks because that is where the bums hang out, we were actually up on the street that runs along side of the river, (much safer.) We saw this phone booth and I begged the girls to pose and they were more than happy to oblige…that is until they all got in there and discovered that those quaint red phone booths make for a dandy toilet for homeless people. The urine index in there was enough to gag a maggot but the girls were troopers and I got the shot!

After taking the phone booth picture we walked through a park and took a full series of pics of Bek gleefully throwing leaves up in the air. Tori and I both got some great shots but I’m sorry to say that at this late date we can only find two of the pictures from the whole series. Look at how nice they turned out:.

Now imagine the last picture in the series where Bek got murky water in her mouth and she was coughing and sputtering! I know this sounds so mean but the murky water situation made me laugh so hard that I had tears running down my face.

There are two Tate Modern Museums in London and we visited both of them. I am the type of museum patron who walks very slowly and try’s to absorb everything I see through every pore of my body. I love museums but even I could have run though both these places at full speed. I really can’t distinguish what we saw at either museum so I might be interchanging what we saw at either particular location, but you’ll never know the difference because if you are smart you won’t waste your time by going to the Modern Museums.
Bek and I were sooo excited to get to see the Andy Warhol exhibit. I had made a special effort to pack an old coveted tee shirt, that was once the uniform of my youth, that bore a silk screen of Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe so that I could give it to Bek while in the presence of all things Warhol. It was from way back when I was skinny so it was a small enough size that I could roll it up and put it in my camera bag. Once we got to the museum I all but herded our group to the Warhol salon. Boy was I disappointed to find that there was not one of his famous celebrity silk screens, nor even mention of his Campbell’s Soup can. No, instead we found ourselves in a room that was covered in Pepto Bismal pink and yellow cow print and aWarholian-esque picture of a pistol. WTH? I still managed to give Bek the tee shirt and I think she was touched by my gesture. I’ve seen pictures of her wearing the shirt so apparently she likes it.

Negative pictures on tin. Ok.

Amongst the works of art that were proudly displayed in the Tate were a pencil written script of “Top Gun”:

We also saw an entire room with nothing more than what appeared to be several years worth of dryer lint. I am not kidding. We also got to watch a short film of a naked women who was standing on a big rock next to a river. She was covered in blood and someone was throwing feathers on her. Yeah. Artistic. We got to see what we presumed was the original “ugly stick” and the best part of the day was when Tori dared to put her finger on an authentic WWII chrome fighter plane. We almost got kicked out over that faux paux. (how do you spell that? Spellcheck didn't have any suggestions.)

The only true piece of art we saw was the sculpture called “The Kiss", by Rodan. I loved it and even to this day I still enjoy looking at the pictures.
The museums in London have full bars and so of course we thought if we had a couple of cocktails then maybe we would have a greater appreciation of the works of art. Between the 4 of us it cost over 50.00 BPS. Bek ordered a smoothie. Word to the wise…in London a “smoothie” is a cup of room temperature watered down yogurt with a little bit of honey mixed in. Upon her first sip of this concoction you could just see it in her face…she didn’t want to swallow what was in her mouth and she was not going to take another sip. Tori told her that for what they paid for that smoothie Rebek had better know that she was going to drink every last bit of it. Bek told Tori if Tori took a sip of it and still thought it was consumable then she would try to drink it. Tori took one sip and lo and behold…the drink was trashed.
This was Bek innocently trying to take a portrait of herself. We thought it would be better with accompaniment. Seriously, what picture isn't improved by bunny ears?

Friday, October 07, 2011

The Dolphin House

Our apartment at the Dolphin House consisted of two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a nice size living room and a kitchen that was so small that only two people could fit in there at a time. (No exaggeration.) An odd contrast to the kitchen we had last year which was big enough to hold a square dance.

These pics were taken within the first 24 hours of our arrival. I know this because after the first day you pretty much needed a shovel to make your way through the living room. We are not a tidy bunch.

We threw our luggage in to our respective rooms, turned on all of the radiators, you can see the radiators behind the sheer curtains in the pic above, and took off on a walk-about. It would be nice to come back to a toasty warm apartment. We bundled up in our new rain coats that we all got just for the London weather, and headed out in to the early evening rain. After walking about 3 blocks from the apartment I discovered that my cool new coat was not water proof and I was rain soaked to the skin. (Yay! I get to spend my entire autumn vacation in rainy London with a coat that absorbs water!)

(I am SO pretty.)

We raced back to the apartment and were all shocked to not be greeted with the delightful hug of warmth from the radiators. All four of us thought we were smarter than the other and we all tried our hand at making the radiators work. Tori got bored with this and decided to turn on the television. Imagine if you will…the tv didn’t work, either. We called the front desk and reported our broken radiators and television. It took a couple of hours but they sent up the first security guard they could spare...because clearly a security guard is the most capable person to send to fix electronics and plumbing. Oddly enough after frittering around with the radiator and the television the security guard told us that the tv and the radiators were … are you ready?…. “broken”. Obviously he was an expert in his field. (I don’t quite remember exactly but it was a couple of days before both items were actually repaired.)

There is an 8 hour time difference between London and California and it’s really hard to adjust to the change. We were all a little jet lagged but thought that we were handling things pretty well. One morning I decided to get up when I heard the others stirring, as opposed to sleeping in as I had done every day thus missing out on a lot of daylight, so even though I was still really tired I dragged myself out of bed. Katie was up and cooking Top Ramen. (Breakfast of champions!!) I convinced her to share it with me and we enjoyed our ever so nutritious breakfast while Tori and Bek slowly made their way to start the new day with us. Tori did as Tori does and turned on the television which thankfully was in working order. There was even less of a choice of what to watch than usual and it was at that point we found out that it was 2:00 AM!! We were all amused at our early start to our day and since there was nothing to watch on TV we watched “Harry Potter” on Katie’s laptop. Since Rebek missed out on eating Top Ramen she decided to cook some Uncle Ben's rice. The directions said, “Boil a large amount of water”, and to that Bek said, “SHOULD I FILL THE BATH TUB???” I don’t know if it was because we were all up and out of bed at such an ungodly hour or what but we all thought that that was just about the funniest thing we’d ever heard.

I'm sad to report that we all fell asleep while watching "Harry Potter" and once again wasted half of the day by sleeping through it.

Stay tuned for the next posting where we actually make it out of the house during daylight hours!