Starting out | London posted July 3, 2004

The first leg of the trip around the Mediterranean started far from the sea in London. Home of the Queen, home of incessant rain and cloudy days and past home of Bram. He lived in southeast London for five years when he was a teenager. Starting the adventure in the UK meant Bram could show Sharon and the kids his old haunts and then we could all go to even older haunts.

Emma wanted to see the Queen's home and so we went to Buckingham Palace. Next we went to Big Ben, the huge clock built into one end of the Houses of Parliament. This large tower came through both of the world wars in the last century without being hit. Ben wanted to see the clock named after him and was duly impressed when the BIG BEN boomed out a baritone rumble marking the hour.
Ben and Emma visiting the Queen… or at least her home. Behind them is Buckingham Palace which has an estimated 650 rooms.

Since we only had one day for hard-core sightseeing we then rushed over to St. Paul's Cathedral. This massive building is where Bram and his brother Geoff used to go during their holidays from school. Now the famous church is being renovated. Nearby is the site of the international headquarters of The Salvation Army, on Queen Victoria Street. It doesn't look very impressive these days either because the old building was ripped down and a new one is being built in the same location. Bram's Dad used to work in the editorial department of the former building, which is now an incomplete glass and steel structure.

Near that, on the shores of the Thames River, which was at low tide, Emma and Ben gathered lots of stones and smooth pieces of pottery. The trouble with finding things beside the river in London is that we don't know if they are ten years old or 1,000 years old. Either way, Mom and Dad had to explain that even if we only took one stone or fossil from each place, our backpacks would be exceedingly heavy by the end of the trip. Emma didn't grasp the point of such restraint but since Mom and Dad are the primary mules on this adventure, we insisted.
In London Emma didn’t have enough money for a call so she yelled instead.

Bram's Aunt Christine (one of his Mom's sisters) and Uncle Richard welcomed us into their home during our stay in London. The kids had a great time playing with one of their daughters, Sarah and their kindness will be one of the highlights of the trip.

On Sunday, June 27th, we crammed into a Ryanair jet (there was no discount for sharing the same name as the company) for the 2:40 flight to Jerez in the south of Spain. There's a reason why low-cost airlines make money but all the passengers, including us, figure we can put up with just about anything for three hours or less.

We arrived in Jerez at 9:30 pm. Outside it was sunny and 34 degrees (C). It was the start of the next leg.