Thursday, May 29, 2008


Yesterday was Craig's birthday....his 21st according to Sandy. The skies were overcast and rain was probable so while Sandy was at work, Anne, Craig and I decided it was a good day to see a movie. We hung around the house and ran a few errands and then headed to the cinema. We saw the new Indiana Jones movie, which if you have some free time, I don't recommend it. It had its bright spots, but they took things to a level that just didn't have the same charisma as the older Indiana Jones movies.

Afterwards, we came back and got ready to meet Sandy for Craig's birthday dinner at a very chic London restaurant. The restaurant itself had a very stylish atmosphere, right down to the memorable egg-shaped toilets. Our food was equally unique and it was arguably the best meal I have ever had. Craig and I shared a started called Tahiti, which is a ceviche of grouper, barramundi, red snapper. Then for my main meal I had lamb and after eating it I now believe it to be better than steak.

It was an excellent way to top off Craig's special day and spend dinner together. Tonight we take off for Roma in attempt to conquer all the city has to offer.

Stay tuned Lee, I am taking on Maximus at the Coliseum for you.

Until next time here are some photos to look at:

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Anne, Craig and I left Waterloo Station in London by train and traveled to Salisbury (SW of London) to discover Stonehenge and whatever else Salisbury had to offer. We had done some research about Stonehenge before we left, but witnessing these massive stones in person was mystifying. What makes them so interesting is that they have been there for over 5,000 years and nobody has a clue how they were erected. There are many theories but none has been proven. We heard stories during our tour ranging from magic to the devil to aliens. Larger stones are believed to have come from distances around 20 miles and the smaller Bluestones from the Preseli Mountains in Wales, 240 miles away. It was pretty amazing to witness one of the most famous prehistoric sites in the world.

After making our way back into town, we walked through the town market and downtown to Salisbury Cathedral. The Cathedral was built over the course of 38 years starting in 1220. Stored here is the finest of only four surviving original Magna Carta, which provided inspiration for many of todays common laws and was a basis for the United States constitution. The Chapter House stores the Magna Carta and a decorative frieze circles the interior and depicts stories from the Bible.

For dinner, Craig and I cooked for Anne. I made salad and bruschetta while Craig prepared chicken and rice while using some saffron we bought at the market in London.


Monday, May 26, 2008

Rainy days and Monday's

London weather has finally decided to give me a glimpse of what it is usually like. I have been blessed with sunny skies with moderate temperatures for my first week of touring. Trying to look and act as an "Londoner" can be simple after following some simple advice from Anne. Layers are key because the sun and temperature change very quickly here and rain is always uncertain. Each day I take off with two layers, sunglasses, and a backpack with my raincoat. The style of clothing here is fairly simple and most people wear darker colors. Business men all wear suits to work each day and Starbucks still dominates overseas. (above is one of my favorite pictures thus far in London: Craig, Sandy and I at a pub near Sandy's work)

Yesterday Anne, Craig and I were going to go see the Aquarium which is located next to the London Eye. Much to our disappointment we found a long queue (line) filled with strollers. As our plan B, Craig and I went to the Churchill's Cabinet War Rooms and Anne headed to Sandy's office. The Cabinet War Rooms allowed Churchill to direct his war cabinet in London, underground, since London expected many air raids throughout the war. I find World War II history very interesting and I was fully engaged inside the museum. The tour offered a headset guided tour during our underground travels through the war rooms. There is also a separate wing dedicated to Churchill that was very impressive with state of the art galleries. I learned much about Churchill's lifestyle, his dedication to the war and his family, and the conditions for his cabinet throughout the war.

Afterwards, Craig and I headed to the pub by Anne and Sandy's and had some pints while we waited for them to get back from the office. We then ate some Sweedish burgers that settled quite nicely with the variety of beers we had been drinking.

Today has been rainy, as mentioned, so we went to the gym to work out and have been cleaning up the flat some and shooting out e-mails. We are now about to go to dinner with Sandy and one of his partners from New York at a Belgium restaurant.

Until next time here are some of my favorite Churchill quotes from the museum:

“I am easily satisfied with the very best.”

“We are masters of the unsaid words, but slaves of those we let slip out”

Lady Nancy Astor: "Winston, if you were my husband, I'd poison your tea."
Churchill: "Nancy, if I were your husband, I'd drink it.”

Until next time, never stop exploring.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


"Time is free, but it's priceless. You can't own it, but you can use it. You can't keep it, but you can spend it. Once you've lost it, you can never get it back."-Harvey MacKay

People always wonder where the time goes.....I have never really had that problem until now. The days here seem to pass at an unimaginable rate. Each day Anne and I have found ourselves arriving home and having a hard time realizing that it is already past eight.

Yesterday Anne, Craig and I went to watch the Changing of the Guard. It was not nearly the event I expected, but it is good to witness a tradition that has lasted for over 400 years. It is a drawn out process, but it is interesting to see almost every tourist in London gathered in one place at the same time.

Afterwards we walked towards Parliament and crossed the Thames River to witness the views on board the London Eye. The ferris wheel is gigantic and each car holds about 25 people. The ride takes about 45 minutes and offers some spectacular views of Parliament and the rest of London.

Today, Anne, Sandy, and I went for a walk through Hyde Park which is very close to their home. The park is about the same size as Central Park in New York only nicer and more safe. The park offers some great scenery along with some great people watching. People here seem to have trouble running, their styles are very different and it is painful to watch. In their defense I have never watched myself run, but I hope it looks nothing like what I have seen here.

We then came back and grabbed Craig before we headed downtown to walk through the market and Tate Modern Museum. The market was very interesting to me. It was filled with merchants selling spices, fish, meat, wine, beer, and cheese among other items. Tate Modern was filled with "art" which I have a hard time understanding at times. There were some very cool displays to see and I even saw a painting by Picasso.

To sum it up, time flies when you're having the time of your life.
Until my next experience, take care.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Tower of London

Today Craig (Sandy's Son), who arrived Wednesday morning, and I ventured out to the Tower of London. We took the Tube from Anne's to the Tower which is located on the north bank of the Thames and began our day of history. The tower is a complex of buildings, surrounded by two rings of defense rings and a moat. The tower primarily served as a fortress, palace and prison. We spent close to four hours touring the Tower including an hour guided tour from a Beefeater (left, not me!), a warder, who acts as a tour guide for the Tower. They are a sight to see in their own right and we found out later that our tour guide was the first ever woman Beefeater, which was a huge deal here. The Tower was very entertaining serving as a place of execution, torture, armory, mint, and the home of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom. The Tower bulit in 1078, has a tremendous amount of history we could never take it all in. We were not able to take pictures of the Crown Jewels, which is a good thing because everybody should see them in person anyway. They are very extravagant.

After hours of touring the Tower, Craig and I headed west along the Thames River to Trafalgar square. We walked there, stopping at Shakespeare's Globe, outside St. John's and crossing Millennium Bridge. Trafalgar square is a recently renovated square in central London. It is a great place to hang out and people watch. There is a 185-foot-tall column in the center of the square surrounded by large lions, fountains, a tons of people (right is a picture of me on the Lion with Big Ben in the background).

Afterwards we met up with Anne and Sandy at his office and went to the pub for some pints and then went to eat my first Lebanese dinner. The food was scrumptious-we had hummus, pita, rice, chicken, and lamb. Indian food is really popular here also, I am excited to try that.

London has so much to offer and I know I would not be able to take it all in without the greatest guides/family to ascertain it all with. Craig and I were talking about the reality that we are actually here and the history we are surrounded by, it is hard to grasp. Tomorrow we witness the Changing of the Guards!

Until next time, Cherrio!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Mind the Gap

Anne and I ventured into the heart of London this morning after I gained back some lost sleep (over 11 hours worth!). We took The Underground or the "Tube" from the Flat to our stop. Anne and Sandy then had a meeting, and while I waited, I wandered about the streets. I ventured in and out of shops, cafes, and made sure my debt card was working overseas.

Anne and I then walked to St. Paul's Cathedral. St. Paul's is a church that was built in London over 1,400 years ago and is one of the world's greatest buildings. Princess Diana's wedding took place here, along with Winston Churchill's funeral. If we were allowed to take pictures inside, I would have some of the most magnificent images to show everybody. The church is filled with domes, transepts, galleries and a crypt. Anne and I made the climb to the top of the Cathedral, just shy of 500 steps. It was well worth the workout, giving us one of the best panoramic views of London (picture at top).

Anne figured since we walked all the way to the top of the Cathedral, we had most certainly deserved a pint. Anne bought me my first "legal" beer in London-a Guinness.

After lunch, we ventured towards Parliament and saw the London Eye, the largest ferris wheel in the world, and Big Ben among other views. The sightseeing was very cool, but another interesting part about touring London is all the people watching you can do. If I had counted, I would guess I heard over 5 different languages today and witnessed some of the most ridiculous outfits around. It certainly is a culture pot here.

We walked back to the flat from there, through St. James's and Hyde Park. Along the way we were greeted by Royal Guards walking to Parliament and a herd of Guardsmen on horses. The weather has been beautiful here, it was around sixty today with no rain, which is rare.

Until next time, take care and never stop exploring.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Finally Here

For those who were counting, it has been approximately 24 hours since my departure. After twelve hours of travel I am now, relaxing in my Aunt and Uncles flat in London after a half day of settling in, walking the streets of London in Anne's neighborhood while running some errands and checking the status of my lost baggage. To arrive in London, I took two flights. The first one from Minneapolis to Toronto was delayed over 50 minutes, causing a mad dash at the Toronto airport to catch my connecting flight to London. Luckily, there were a few others in the same boat and we managed to board with time to spare. My backpack on the other hand.....I am still waiting for its arrival.

London is an amazing place. I have not experienced a fraction of what the city has to offer and I am already impressed. Minor changes from America have already been addressed. Looking right then left when crossing a street is a must. Pedestrians do not have the right away here and it is your job to stay out of the way. Also, it is not uncommon to see multiple BMW's, Porsche's, and Bentley's parked on the curb....something a small town boy is amazed by. Layers are key, today it was sunny then cloudy and that pattern repeated all day. The temperature was around 12 degrees C (approx 55 Fahrenheit). London would be in the good graces of those who are looking after our environment as the city has a very "green" perspective which I like to see.

I hope this blog provides those who care to follow my travels with some insight on the incredible opportunity I have been given to come over here. Many thanks to all who have supported me and my adventure over the pond, I would not be here without you. Please, post any comments, suggestions, or questions you have. You can also e-mail me at I will try to update this page as often as I can, keeping everybody updated on my daily activities.