Saturday, May 17, 2014

London Calling

Last week, I got to go to London for three days of training.  The training was relevant and useful and provided a great opportunity to meet other political and econ officers around Europe.  But, for purposes of this blog, it was a great trip to go see London - a city I have unfortunately neglected up to this point in my life.

I arrived Monday afternoon and went walking around town after I got to my hotel in the heart of London (a block from the main shopping drag of Oxford Street.  I meandered my way through various parks towards Buckingham palace.  Unfortunately, about the time that I got down to the real touristy area, it started to rain.  So, I did what it appears everyone in London does and I stopped off for a pint in a pub.
Not the changing of the guards, but just a moving around of the guards

Here comes the rain

The first pint in London
On Monday night, I met up with my A-100 friend Stephanie.  She left the FS after her first tour and is raising two adorable children with her husband in London.  I hadn't seen her since I left for Belize, so we had a wonderful dinner catching up on the last few years.

Me and Stephanie
Tuesday night after training, I went to see Phantom of the Opera in the Westend.  I had never seen the performance before.  I was actually a bit surprised to discover that it was not, in fact, an opera.  For some clueless reason, I thought it was an all singing show, similar to Les Miserables.  Clearly, I was wrong.  The performance was fantastic and I found a great seat online - center stage, second row.  
My delicious dinner at a place called "Hummous Bros."

Outside the theater

Beware the Werewolves of London on a full moon night

London Underground at Piccadilly Circus

After meeting a friend who I hadn't seen for four years on Monday, I decided to one-up that by meeting a friend I hadn't seen for fifteen year on Wednesday.  In 1999, Brent and I were both AFS exchange students to Italy in 1999.  Although we didn't live in the same town, we hung out together at orientation and have kept up with each other over the years (at first via actual letter, then email and now facebook).  We've had a few near misses over the years, but we were finally able to get together for a pint or four this week.  It was good to see him and I hope I don't have to go another 15 years before we see each other again.

Brent and me headed into the tube

Marble Arch by my hotel
Tower of London

Tower of London

Tower Bridge
With a ship passing through

I like the honesty

Not bad 

The Thames

The mighty Tower of London is dwarfed by the modern day towers

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