Sunday, June 6, 2010
Guernsey Island to London to Houston
Friday June 4, 2010 to Saturday June 6, 2010
Friday we arrived at Guernsey Island, St. Peter Port, of the Channel Islands. I assumed it was part of the United Kingdom, but it is an independent island with its own self-government, its own flag, and money. It was declared so by some English king hundreds of years ago. The Grand Princess anchored off the coast and after breakfast we joined a nice group of folks for what turned out to be a forgettable tour that started out with a 60-person tender boat for the ride to the harbor. The weather could not have been better.
We were ushered onto a large bus with no air conditioning and windows that did not open. Needless to say it was “hot” in the bus. I thought we would get out more and walk but it was basically a bus ride around the island. We stopped halfway and had a cold drink and a snack, and then back on the bus for a short ride to the “Little Chapel,” a miniature build church made of cement with inlays of shells and broken porcelain. We got back on the bus for a short ride to a gold and silversmith shop and then back to the bus.
We elected to get off downtown where we walked around for a short walk. There was not much to see so we walked back to the embarkation area for the tenders, boarded a tender after a brief wait and got back on the ship. This was our last night aboard so we packed our suitcases and put them outside the cabin door where the ship’s crew picked them up and they were waiting for us in luggage claim in Southampton. We got up, got our things together, had breakfast, got our carry-on luggage (my camera equipment) and waited in the Explorer’s Lounge until our number was called. I think MA and I were the last ones off the ship.
We did not have enough time to catch a same day flight to Houston so we over-nighted in London again at the Hyatt Regency with the use some more points. We took a bus from the ship port in Southampton to Victoria Coach Station and taxi to the hotel.
I explained to MA that I wanted to do some night photography of the Tower Bridge and Houses of Parliament & Big Ben. She once again being the good sport that she is, agreed to go with me. We headed out of the hotel around 7:30pm to the Underground at Marble Arch, bought our day pass and took the subway to Bond Street where we could get on the Gray Line. The Gray Line took us to Tower Bridge.
We found a little restaurant and had our last fish and chips for this trip. After diner we walked over to the Thames River and walked along there to some spots where the Tower Bridge becomes a great photo subject. The sun set around 9:00pm and I got my photos of the bridge. We then made our way back to the Underground, got on the “tube” to Embankment. We exited the subway station to find the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben all lit up. We walked across the bridge to the south bank and I got some more shots for the website.
We went back to Embankment station. I have to tell you this subway is about 5 stories below ground. Thankfully, the escalators were working. We stayed on the Gray Line to Bond Street, transferring to the Red Line to Marble Arch and we were about 5 blocks from the hotel.
Saturday morning we got up at 6:30, packed the rest of our things, checked out of the hotel, and took a taxi to Paddington Station for the Express train to Heathrow Airport where I am typing this last trip report. We board Continental flight #5 to Houston IAH in one hour. Both MA and I agree that the train and subway service in London are to be admired. It takes about five minutes to figure it all out and you’re on your way.
One more thing: We have about come to the conclusion that going forward we will not do any more group bus tours ashore. It’s almost more about the sticker on your jacket to identify you, line up, sit, wait, ride, listen, listen, listen, off again, on again, more lines. Just not our style!
I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog and traveling with MA and I as much as we enjoy sharing our experiences with you. You who read this are our dear friends and family and you are missed when we are away.
WW & MA……Au revoir