London to Strasbourg July 30

Tuesday, October 24th, 2023

Similar to the mix of feelings yesterday at Trafalgar Square, upon descending to the underground at Gloucester Road heading for France, I felt the sweet sorrow of parting from the City which had caught my heart and the excitement of wonder about what lay ahead.

The departure point was an appropriate transition.  Saint Pancras was the only railroad station for “Eurostar” trains going through the Chunnel to the Continent.  At the metro station called “Kings Cross, St Pancras,” I was impressed with another yellow brick shrine to the industrial revolution, assuming it was also the terminal.


But turning left, my mistake was evident.  There was an edifice that dwarfed even the monuments of Albertopolis in scale and decoration. (more…)

London July 29

Wednesday, October 18th, 2023

An unenterprising morning following yesterday’s varied activities  preceded the familiar busride back to the West End where we’d planned again to be royally entertained in the theatre, this time at a performance of The Book of Mormon, the acclaimed musical I’d been eager to see since its first appearance in New York in 2011, where it’s still running.  Knowing that its satire, written by the  merciless creators of South Park, targeted the Church of Latter Day Saints, added to the anticipation resulting from my ever-increasing aversion for all religious dogma and enthusiasm.  Having learned of  the Mormon’s Church’s strange beliefs and violent history from John Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven, I was ready for some naughty fun.

I wasnt disappointed. From the  golden statue of the Angel Monroni at the top of the proscenium to the lighting, sets, live orchestra, brilliant singing and dancing, the show  offered irresistible spectacle.  But the audience was most gratified by laughing at the foibles of  its  American characters blithely unaware of their own personal issues–runaway narcissism, suppressed homosexuality, clinging dependency–offering conversion to Mormonism as a solution for the more serious problems faced by their African hosts: AIDS, female circumcision, child sexual abuse, and oppression by a murderous local warlord.


During intermission, delighted audience members chatted with neighbors.  Based on their haircuts and necklaces, Jan correctly surmised that three women in the row in front of us were Catholic nuns. We bonded with them in mockery of that other version of Christianity, (more…)

London July 28

Wednesday, October 18th, 2023

I was up early to beat the traffic and try out one of those green ebikes available for use all over town.  Just download the app, and it tells you the location of any available ones nearby and how much time on it the battery still provides.  Scanning the qr code on the bike unlocks it and locks you in to the elaborate network controlling it

Two Limes–the most numerous of several brands– were left at a corner just around the block.  Their design is well suited for non hotshot bikers, the only accessories a fat basket hanging from the handlebars and a little rack to hold your cellphone showing the zoomable map of where you are and if you’re somewhere the bike is not allowed to be ridden or parked.  The app’s location disclosure connected to the phone enables the invisible network, for better or worse, to track your every move. I later learned that Google and Uber own major portions of the company.

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London July 27

Wednesday, October 18th, 2023

Jetlag and overstimulation caught up today.  Sleeping in, washing clothes at the Laundromat, processing photos and email took up the morning, and after nap, a walk back to the Vand A, a brief stay there and then dinner at an outdoor Tapas restaurant by the South Kensington Tube Station were enough.



London July 26

Wednesday, October 18th, 2023

Ready for more unplanned adventures before attending tonight’s play, we cautiously crossed the wrong-way street outside the hotel


and boarded a bus headed for Putney, the terminus of a Thames River boat line. Billed as a commuter ride rather than a tourist cruise, one couldnt determine from the website or the app whether “Uber Boat by Thames Clippers” was part of the public transportation system or a private operation.

The stop nearest the dock was called Battersea Power Station, located a block away from the river in a pedestrian-unfriendly maze of criss-crossing tunnels, overpasses, temporary barriers, and littered sidewalks.  After bewildered efforts to follow the google map we were guided back toward the river by some reliable looking signage behind which rose the Power Station’s landmark brickwork,  flanked by modish landscaping and a diverse panorama of  shiny new buildings.

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London July 25

Tuesday, October 17th, 2023

We’d invited our friend Mo for lunch today on Jan’s  78th birthday, an occasion for celebration and remembrance. She agreed to take the train in from Sevenoaks, her home in Kent.  We’d first become acquainted with Mo through Juliet, her sister, our neighbor in Lund, B.C., the community at the end of the road where we’d lived during our  twenties and thirties and visited annually until 2019. The two sisters, with their chipper spirits and crisp British accents were especially appealing to us two English majors.

The relationship with Mo was rekindled on subsequent trips to London.  In 1978,  our toddlers, Ben and Claire,  played in her kitchen during a three week family auto and backpacking holiday away from the Canadian wilderness.



London July 24

Tuesday, October 17th, 2023

The morning after the Royal Albert Hall experience, my Macbook Pro laptop wouldnt wake up,  and dealing with that crisis took priority over finding the next tourist adventure.  I phoned a half dozen repair places listed on the web with nearby addresses promising immediate help but got no response, and then scurried through the neighborhood finding only vacant storefronts or locked private residences. Back at the hotel, it was a relief to hear a human voice from a place called “Computer angels” in Fulham, a remote London location. The speaker provided instructions to reach it by bus and foot which I confirmed on google maps.  Jan and I agreed the setback might be compensated by getting us off the beaten track of the elegant streets of Kensington we traversed under cloudy skies to get to the bus stop


The swervy ride at the front of the double-decker passing through unassuming lively neighborhoods–a mosque, a Russian dress shop, several tatoo parlors–left us off to walk through a treeless street of middle class row houses (more…)

London July 23

Tuesday, October 17th, 2023

Washed by yesterday’s rain, the glazed red tile and warm yellow brick of The Gloucester Road Station made a pleasant backdrop for the row of rental bicycles at the tree shaded bus stop that met our eyes upon exiting the hotel in the morning sunlight.

Eager to explore the districts urban delights, we were also driven by the appetite for coffee and breakfast.  Halfway up the block across the Road, we were struck by the genteel but sumptuous appearance of a French bakery, whose matte black façade and signage reiterated its distinctive monosyllabic name in classic white font: “Paul.” Trays of fresh sandwiches on baguettes just out of the oven, fruit laden pastries, and gleaming croissants filled the warm-lit window. (more…)

London July 22

Sunday, September 10th, 2023

We arrived at London’s Heathrow airport a day after leaving California and tried to get off the Underground connection at Gloucester Road, the station right by our hotel. But the train didn’t stop until the next station, South Kensington. After the confinement of the airplane, the walk back in light rain pushing and pulling our rolly suitcases along a street of Edwardian rowhouses, large London Plane trees and a locked private park felt like stimulating exercise rather inconvenience, but also a traveller’s warning to be ready for the unexpected.

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Europe 2023

Sunday, September 10th, 2023

This was our first trip abroad since we went on a Gate 1 Tour to Spain in 2018. That year, we also traveled to India, Hawaii, New York/Vermont as well as to our homes away from home in Lund B.C. and Sun Valley Idaho—satisfying our prosperous retiree appetites for extending knowledge, connecting with old and new friends, and enjoying fresh pleasures.

At the beginning of 2019 I felt guilty about the continuing indulgence, but by late Fall of a year with no travel, the yen was back. We signed up for a February 2020 tour of China which included a boat trip up the Yangtze River ending at the city of Wuhan.  In January reports arrived about a coronavirus epidemic that started in a Wuhan market and was spreading through the country.  We cancelled our reservations and decided to use the refund to visit Portugal on our own, studying guidebooks and websites, making hotel reservations, arranging meetings in Lisbon with old friends from Cornwall and with my young co-worker and her boyfriend. But by March the epidemic had spread world wide and we were happy to hunker down at home. (more…)