2013 0815 London: Announcements started early this AM since they wanted everyone out of their room by 8:00 … and we had to put our luggage outside our door after dinner about 10:30 last night. Had a lovely dinner with the Wests in Toscana. Before dinner, I reread the instructions about getting off the ship and realized we had to put our luggage out that night instead of in the morning. Well, very fast packing!

Forgot in yesterday’s trip diary to say that we were walking along a street in Brugge and Marian spotted a young man with a Central Missouri T-shirt on. She asked if he was from Missouri and he said he went to Central Missouri. At that point, a very tall black man joined our conversation and said he was an assistant coach at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Been there three years. Was in Europe with a team of Missouri and Illinois students for touring and playing about five basketball games. SIUE! So, we had a lovely conversation with him about the university.

We left our very nice cabin/suite around 7:30 and went up to the Terrace Café on Deck 9 to have breakfast. No more butler service on this last day! Ah, well. Went down to the Nautica Lounge about 8:20 to go through UK passport control in about 10 seconds (“How long are you staying in the UK?” “Three days.” Stamp stamp and off we went. Then off the ship into the terminal, reclaimed our luggage, and sat for a while waiting for our 9:00 ride into London.

Very nice driver contracted for from Aldine Travel. Tadhg from Ireland. Has his own Mercedes and talked the whole way into London … about 1.5 hours. He used to drive Ginny and Larry Browning when they came to the UK and that’s how he got hooked up with Aldine. Lots of stories about all sorts of things and people and the royals and and and.

Got to The Connaught about 10:45 and were told our room would be ready about 11:30. Had some coffee and the room was ready early. On the top floor (room 603) overlooking rooftops of London. What’s interesting is that the room is smaller than the one we had on the ship and really has less storage space (drawers, closet space) than we had on the ship. Odd. But very nice place and nice room.

Left here a little before Noon and walked down Mount to Berkeley Square, up Berkeley St. to Piccadilly. Walked up to the Royal Academy of Art, then across to Fortnum & Mason for lunch. Afterward, we went up Jermyn, which parallels Piccadilly, to Regent. Up Regent to Piccadilly Circus and onto Regent where is makes the crescent. Crowds. Hordes. Mobs. Construction. Gridlock even walking. Went into Hamley’s to get our pix taken, something we’ve done ever year we’ve been here. This time, digital and printed on coasters vs. the other times analog and made into a 3” button.

Cut over toward the hotel. Got rained on. Went too far. Got a little lost. Got found. Got back to the hotel after 4:00. Fiddled around with clothes and gear until it was time to walk about the same direction we had this morning (past the Porsche, Audi, Range Rover, Jaguar, Rolls, and Bentley dealerships) over to Piccadilly and across to Arlington and down to Le Caprice for dinner. Very lovely restaurant and food. Then walked  back to hotel arriving about 9:00. Marian had a bath where the tub has a TV over its end. And, after working with Cellular Abroad in CA since I had no phone service since arriving in the UK (even though I have a UK number), they figured out how to fix the problem. 

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