Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Our England Vacation

Greetings to all, it’s so good to be back home! We arrived safely from our England trip on Sunday afternoon. It was raining in London when we left and we returned to a yet another wet city of Boston, rain was the last thing we need .


Our flight to London was smooth overall with only few delays. It was very exhausting though with all the new security procedures in place, things took longer than expected. We queued for an hour just to check in our luggages. Logan Aiport in Boston was systematic though so we didn’t have any problem checking in and going through security check. However Manchester Airport in UK was the exact opposite, it was very chaotic; everybody seemed not to know where to go, there was a lot of confusion. Nobody was directing the passengers on where to queue. We ourselves just went with the flow; we saw a long queue and just joined in it without even knowing if it was the line for security check. If you ask anybody in the line what the queue was for they didn’t know either. It was so disorganized, no system at all, it was really horrendous.

Though we took a direct flight back to Boston, it was even more exhausting. Going back to US was a lot stricter; there were security checks in every point of entry - upon checking in; on the security check area itself; and on the gate. Security check was really very thorough at the gate. A security crew went through all my stuffs, checked every nook and cranny of my briefcase and all the pockets, and requested to turn on digicam and laptop. Strictly no cosmetics in any form were allowed on board even if lipsticks have been previously allowed in one of their announcements, so my Christian Dior lipstick was confiscated. Only one carry-on was allowed and no extra purse, so I had to stick everything in my briefcase.

There were so many hassles if I may say so but I didn’t mind it at all, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If there was one positive thing that resulted in this new security procedure, is that it’s easier and quicker to get off the plane now, the overhead compartments were almost empty with carry-ons due to so much restrictions.


London was a very busy and exciting city and I enjoyed it a lot. However I call it a place where all languages are spoken except English because you hardly hear anybody speaks English. We stayed at the Hilton Paddington London which is just across an Underground Station and beside Paddington Train Station so it’s a real convenient location. We arrived on a Saturday afternoon and we pretty much just strolled around and checked out the area. On Sunday we heard mass at Westminster Cathedral then toured in the Tower of London. On Monday we’ve met with Rob’s nephew John and went to Trafalgar Square, had late lunch at Chinatown and shopped some in Soho district. We had margarita at Hard Rock CafĂ© and viewed their collections of musical instruments of famous artists like John Lennon, Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix at their basement vault. On Tuesday we went to St. Paul’s Cathedral where Prince Charles and Princess Diana got married but unfortunately cameras are not allowed inside the cathedral. Afterwards we went to Covent Garden, watched the streets performers and had lunch of their famous pasty at West Cornwall Pasty. At night we went to visit John and his girlfriend Pipper and had dinner at their house in Chesham, a town north of London. On Wednesday we went to Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the guards. We were very close to the gate but it’s too hard to move around because it’s too crowded. We didn’t get the chance to enter the palace because there was a pandemonium of tourists lining up to get tickets so we just skipped it. We just went to British Museum and Knightsbridge to shop at Harrods.

The next day we decided to just have breakfast in our room so Rob went out to get something to eat while I prepared to get ready for the day. When I was about to take a shower an announcement in the hotel’s PA came on announcing to vacate the area immediately. It didn’t register to me right away and I thought it was just a drill, and then the announcement became persistent. I put back my PJ’s and looked out in the corridor and saw people hurrying up to leave their rooms then it suddenly dawned on me that there must be a fire and then a certain panic kicked in. Believe it or not I was still debating on whether to put on my bra coz I couldn’t find a robe to cover myself so I just grabbed my sweatshirt, put on my flip-flops, grabbed my purse and headed out. All the doors in the corridors automatically shut off and it was like a maze from our room to the exit. As soon as I got out of the hotel, everybody was led to the side of the building by firemen and policemen and after few minutes it was declared safe to go back and it was only a false alarm. Somebody foolish must have just smoked in bed and caused the alarm to set off leaving everybody to panic Then people flooded the lobby, I went to Starbucks to look for Rob while he went back to the lobby to look for me, what a way to start the day. Later that day we had lunch in Chinatown and had some drink in O’Neills Pub, and then afterwards we strolled at Leicester Square, Hyde Park and Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain. The next day Friday, we got up early to join a tour to Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath, it was a nice experience to go back in the days and then we capped the tour for some champagne in the Assembly Room. On our last day in London before leaving for Liverpool, we went to see Abbey Road, strolled down Soho district again and had lunch and watched soccer in a pub. Then we took a 5 hour bus ride to Liverpool with nephew John to visit Rob’s dad and relatives.


Life in Liverpool is quite slow and dragging at least in my opinion anyway. It was always raining every night and most of the days. We didn’t do much unlike in London, but I met most of Rob’s relatives and they were very nice. On our first day we toured around Rob’s dad’s side of the family. In every house we went we had a cup of English tea with either shortbread, chocolate rolls or Jaffa cakes to drink it with. The tea was very good but I had so much of it that it kept me up all night. Good thing there was a good movie on TV so I just watched an old movie Cassandra Crossing till early dawn. It was a bank holiday when we got there so it was a long weekend and they had this Music Festival in downtown Liverpool. We went to see Matthew Street Festival and we had fun. Major streets were closed down and concerts were playing in different stages in the streets, there were also various rides and beers were served just ererywhere. A lot of people were walking with bottles of beer in their hands, most of them very young and wasted. We went to The Cavern Club where the Beatles first played before they became famous, you can hear Beatles songs being sang live everywhere. The next day we drove to Burnley, Lancashire to visit Rob’s mom’s side of the family; it was quite a ways to get there. We also drove down memory lane; we went to the house where Rob was born and another house where he spent his grade school years. We also visited the school where he studied; he was quite amazed at how the place had changed. We visited Burnley twice, and the next time around we went to see the country side of Pendle Hill, oh the view was so amazingly breathtaking. First we had lunch of steak pie, chips and steamed veggies and black currant cheese cake in Harper Inn then we drove to Witches Galore to buy some souvenirs, then we spent most of the day driving around the hills to breathe the fresh scent of the grass, watch the sheeps, cows and horses in the farms. It’s good to be in the country side once in a while, very laid back, and cool. The next day we went to Knowsley’s Safari Park and drove by where wild animals live. The following day we went to downtown Liverpool to see the Metropolitan Cathedral. On Saturday Sept. 2nd, we left for London again and stayed at The Thistle close to Heathrow Airport as we were leaving the following day for Boston. The day we left Liverpool, rain was pouring down and we got really soaked because we walked three blocks from train station to where the bus was parked and waiting dragging our luggages. Oh gee that was quite an experience and we almost didn’t make it on time.

Overall we had a great time in England, I enjoyed all the places we visited and loved the hospitality of Rob’s relatives. Despite the hassles of new airport security procedures, we still had great fun in this trip. So there my friends, I hope you enjoyed reading my post and the pictures I shared. It’s good to be back home!