Our two week European vacation was a blur and already it was time for Jamie to return back to her school-oriented life in Florida. On our way back to Manchester we stopped in London with just a few hours to follow The Queen's Walk and enjoy the sites. We took the underground to the Palace of Westminster, then walked across Westminster Bridge and downstream along the River Thames as far as Tower Bridge. After a nice dinner along the Thames, we headed back out to the airport for an absurdly early flight to Manchester the following morning.
From Manchester Jamie headed back to St. Augustine, while I continued on my travels, not planning to return to St. Augustine myself until the end of June. In Manchester I stayed a week with a friend and old colleague, Basheer, from Florida. I then flew back to Ireland returning to Ballintoy where I will stay for a few weeks.
Look, kids, Big Ben, Parliament! I confess, it was a momentous occasion for me to see the roundabout that Chevy Chase got stuck in in European Vacation.
The Globe was still undergoing renovations so we weren't able to take in a Shakespearean production. Nevertheless, Jamie, ever the Shakespeare geek, was ecstatic to actually see the Globe. I'm hoping to take in a show in the open roofed theater when I pass through London again in June.
When I took this picture I erroneously thought we were posing in front of London Bridge. In fact we had already passed London Bridge which is much less impressive looking than Tower Bridge. The bridge's unique bascule and suspension bridge design was to allow access to the port facilities that once existed in the Upper Pool of London between Tower Bridge and London Bridge. It gets its name from London Tower which we also visited by walking across the bridge.
There's been a bridge crossing at or very near this area of the River Thames for nearly 2,000 years, the first built by the Romans around 60 AD and many others built over the years. The previous London Bridge was bought by Robert McCulloch for $2,460,000 and reassembled in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, where it has become a massive tourist attraction. The modern London Bridge is not especially impressive to look at, the claim being that it was instead designed to last, so no more of this "London Bridge is falling down" stuff.
The London Eye, also known as the Millennium Wheel, is the second tallest observation wheel in the world, soon to be the third tallest (the Star of Nanchang is taller, and the Singapore Flyer will be taller still). Standing at 443 feet high, the wheel opened in March of 2000 and takes 30 minutes to make a complete revolution. We had hoped to ride it to see the city from up high at night, but ran out of time.
Bash in front of his house in Manchester where he moved several years ago. Manchester is his wife's home town, though once he finishes his Masters he's hopeful to return to the US.
Two years old now, she was very shy around me and tended to hide her face as soon as she saw me.
Bilaal has his hand on the wok, a good friend of Bash's that owns an Indian restaurant in Timperley. We became regulars at Mhariam, Bilaal's restaurant, and each time he prepared for us a special gourmet meal during which we'd all sit around scheming up business ideas that combine the food industry and computers.