ICELAND and LONDON — November 2010

I started SHUNPIKING WITH RAY in early 2011, but prior to that I was emailing my adventures to family and friends.  Here is my collection of emails from Iceland and London in November 2010, and I just selected a few images from that fun time.  I have lots to share (if anyone has copies of my emails from Christmas 2010 in Quebec City, please send me them) and will begin adding this winter.  I added this page now while researching the Oct-Nov 2012 trip to London and countryside

Sent: Sunday, November 7, 2010 3:57:08 PM
Subject: Sunday night in Iceland

Hi all,

Easy check in, laborious loading of plane starting close to take off time. Not very organized, but they were not in a rush because there was a cooling fan malfunction on the way from Iceland to Boston we learned later.  We left well over an hour late (maybe more) but with tail winds made most of it up.  Now the electrical problem was in a cargo hold, and that is where the few bags getting off in Iceland were to be stowed.  So, all I can say is if you have a direct flight, check in early, etc, etc, that does not mean that your back will travel with you.  Did not pack in my carry on a day or so supply of underwear as I was told to do on the way to Greece – Ray figured no problem.  Bag should be here tomorrow they say, if not it may not even make it to London (my worst guess).  When at the lost bag claim someone up front asked what IcelandAir would do, she said that had a travel kit.  He did not respond and ask for it, but I did, got one, so at least I was able to brush teeth and shave – enough there for maybe two more days.

People in Iceland are wonderful.  Guesthouse is wonderful (mainly some visiting students) and when I got here at 9, was given my room.  Rested a tad, was given breakfast (now this all does not happen in the states), and then I spent 6 hours on my feet touring the historic old part of the city and toured 4 museums.  The National Museum of Iceland is one of the best I have ever seen, and you all know I am a museum freak.  Got back to guesthouse about 5, rested 2 hours, then walked downtown and had some Icelandic stew. The host here has arranged a Golden Circle tour for me tomorrow on a smaller van rather than a large bus – think I will like that better.  Decided to pass on the Blue Lagoon today, the more I read about it, it sounds great, but is not a natural phenomena, but was developed from the heating discharge of a power plant over the volcanic rock.  By the way, in the national museum I learned a great deal about the eruptions here, and how they help to date covered villages, sites, etc.

Obviously I did not “miss a beat” with “jet-lag” but will turn in early tonight to still rest up (plus my books to read are in my bag – ha ha)  but I do have my computer (David I did have the right adapter plug for here — BTW you were taking off as I was landing) so can play awhile on line.  I really enjoyed walking to and from town tonight — it seems as though everyone eats by candlelight.

 

A church on the Golden Circle tour in early afternoon.

 

I had checked sunrise and sunset yesterday before I left (while online at airport) and sunrise today was 9:30 and sunset before 5 PM.  When coming into town it seemed as though everyone was still asleep — maybe because it is Sunday, maybe because night life begins at 10 to 11 PM — not for this puppy this trip.  My tour tomorrow leaves at 8:30 and gets back at 5 — now that is a lot of nature sites travelling.

Well, my clock says that it is 3:54 in Walpole, so have a nice soup night.  More eventually, as always RAY

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Sent: Monday, November 8, 2010 3:43:08 PM
Subject: Monday night (your afternoon) Nov. 8th
Hi All,

Poor internet connection, taking long time at moment.  First off, bag was here unscathed when I returned from today’s Golden Circle Tour.

Just had a wonderful “hashed fish” (cod) dinner an Icelandic Specialty at the neighborhood restaurant (actually a pretty fine restaurant).  In summation of 1 2/3 days here, I hit the Thomas Cook guidebook (that I bought a month ago) high spots, and I would do it all again.  Possibly in warmer weather.  Everyone here wears a hat!!!  The Golden Circle tour provided a great deal of history and geology.  Iceland is unique because two teutonic plates cross here, and it is a “hot spot” (as is Hawaii, Yellowstone, and one

Iceland is an active geological area with hot spots and faults. Here is where two plates cross as seen on the Golden Circle Tour

other I forget at moment).  Today’s tour crossed when the rift is between the plates, and seeing the fissures (10,000 years old) was fascinating.  You know me, can’t get enough of this stuff.  The steaming ground and geyser were a high point as well as the two major plates rift (European and North American plates).  Maybe there really is something to the movie 2012, and the Mayans will be proven correct.  Just to give you a point of reference, the guide today said that Iceland is about the size of Kentucky and population about 300,000 with half about in the Reykjavik area; and, last year there were 500,000 visitors.  Tourism is their major industry along with Cod fishing.  Also of interest is they are a major processor of Aluminum — raw materials are imported/processed and exported.  Reason being is electricity is so cheap.  No fossil fuel used to heat homes — geothermal or cheap electric.  Really pretty amazing place, and I do recommend the trip.  Of course, I ran hard — sure don’t feel or act my age, but that is only a number.  Those folks on the RoadsScholar Greece/Turkey trip could not have kept my pace.

And talking of pace — up at 5AM, breakfast at 5:30, get picked up at 6 for bus to airport for 9 AM flight.

So, guess that will be it for now.  Catch you again when/if I can.  as always, RAY

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Sent: Wednesday, November 10, 2010 5:34:46 AM
Subject: Wed – 10 Nov

Hi all, guess who?

From London at an internet store – 1GBP per hour – home I am staying in does not have internet service (she has old AOL dial-up)

Up at 5AM yesterday, bus to airport, easy flight to London arriving (yes) an hour early, and with bag.  Bought my Oyster Card for the tube, remembered all the connections (London is easy) and arrived at my B&B in Camden Town at 2.  Got settled and unpacked, and headed

A large canal barge at the Canal Museum. I really want to tour England on a Narrow Boat

out.  Figured I could get in the London Canal Museum which I did and enjoyed.  I had not been in that area before of St. Pancreas and Kings Cross stations — I love the old Victorian train sheds and all the hustle and bustle (saw more yesterday than Walpole has seen in well over 2 centuries).  Then headed off on the tube to Liecester Square, which actually exits on Charing Cross Road.  Sadly number 84 (if you have not read the book or seen the movie — do so) is a new building now, and a SUBWAY Shop (sandwiches remember) occupies that number.  When I was last here at least the original building was there, but sadly the original 84 Charing Cross Road was a seedy record shop.

Had a bite in the theater district – stumbled into the St. Martin’s theater where MOUSTRAP had played for 58 years (longest run in the world) which I saw in 1993 or 92.

Then I headed back about 8ish to my place.  David called shortly after I got back and said we could meet at his hotel at 3 instead of 4:30.  So, I have just a few things planned, but the main thing I enjoy is soaking up the ambience and history.  Will probably hold off on the British Museum until tomorrow since it is supposed to rain.

Where I am staying is traditional old London row house (but neat and very clean – Cathy would be pleased).  Only one room wide: basement, ground floor (actually up a few steps from sidewalk) then first floor, second floor (my room is all the way across the front of the house overlooking the street), and then an attic room (somewhat of a Mansard roof).  All the rear looks out at the owner’s gardens and terraces.  Hard to take.

Yesterday already found some things for next journey — canal boat trips here in London — some nautical history and business history I did not know before.

Not sure what else to tell you at this point (still have 17 minutes left on my hour — oh the frugal Yankee in me).   Frugal or not, I did decide to spend the pound each of 3 days to stay in touch whether I use all the time or not.

Catch you tomorrow, and Lil I may not have remembered Dave’s address correctly — think it is just in my home computer, it is not in my on-line comcast address book, so you may have to forward again (have him send me a message to save here) — Comcast will not let me send to what I thought it was, at least did not lose message

Bye, RAY

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Sent: Thursday, November 11, 2010 4:06:24 PM
Subject: Thur night (my night here) – Nov 11th

All right all, where do I beginning?  I know, from the beginning.

Instead of updating you this morning, I decided to hit the road earlier.  David and I had a grand time yesterday – Wednesday.  I do not have a European mobile phone, so he could not let me know that he arrived in London at 1 instead of 3.  Prior to meeting him I spent about 2 1/2 hours in The Dickens House Museum.  Not changed much since my last visit,

My London Mecca – The Charles Dickens Museum

but they have great plans for the bicentennial of Dickens’ birth in 2012.  Did not have the time to do The Foundling Museum justice, so I had lunch, walked by David’s hotel (should have checked to see if he had checked in) and killed the time I had (hardly killing) at the New British Library.

David and I met at 3.  His routine when he finishes up in London (he is here often to meet with colleagues) is to walk around town.  And did we.  London is manageable, and walkable.  We headed from Russell Square all the way down to the Thames — it is a hike — visiting different areas along the way.  We then crossed the Thames on the “new” new to me at least, pedestrian bridge, and came back across the Westminster Bridge just in time

David and I with the London Eye in the background.

to see a large student riot outside Westminster Abbey (David in today’s paper is full details, including violence that occurred at 7PM)  It caught the police by surprise (there is criticism) and it was a protest over withdrawal of future funding support to students.

We continued walking up to Leicester Square and went to the official theater ticket discount booth.  At The Dickens House Museum they had an exhibit on the 50th anniversary of the production of OLIVER in London, so that was on the top of my list (also was thinking of JERSEY BOYS or DIRTY DANCING – have loved that movie and music forever).  We got tickets for OLIVER (range was 17.50 GBP to 67.50 GBP – we got 63 GBP seats for 35 — great seats!!!)  We then headed to a fine French restaurant, still a tad early and it was empty.  They did not want to seat us but finally in conversation they said if we left by 7:30 we could have a table — it was shortly after 5.  Well, David is a first-class world traveler, and even this menu stumped him a tad.  We pick great entrees and wine, and the wait began.  Soon I was brought a beautiful terrine (sp) appetizer, but said “that is not mine.”  They returned saying “compliments of the chef – he overdid your lamb and this is compensation.  We doubly enjoyed sharing it.

We walked to The Drury Theater (fabulous — was where MISS SAIGON played) and were overwhelmed with the musical, and the sets and set changes — just cannot say enough.   When it concluded we again walked, (hard to believe — just look at the map), back north to Euston Station.  We had a drink, visited, and parted — David close to his hotel, and me 10 minutes on the tube and walking to my Camden Town row home.  He flew back today at Noon.

So, today I just headed out — first stop was British and London Tourist Bureau near Piccadilly Circus. You know I love to collect travel literature, but I was a tad disappointed with what they had – not like back in the states as to having everything imaginable.  I then headed over to St James Park working my way across the Thames to the Imperial War Museum.  Well, I was shortcutting to the parade grounds and four motorcycles sped by with a fancy limousine, “gee” says Ray, “wonder if that is the Queen?”   A few paces further I struck up a conversation with a gentlemen (later told me he was in his 80s) and I recalled that today is Armistice Day.  Well in the car was not the Queen, but Prince Charles on his way around the corner to lay a wreath at Westminster Abbey during the ceremonies (last saw him in Christchurch, New Zealand in about 1974 – don’t think he remembers it though like I do).  This gentleman spent about 45 minutes talking to me about the various military units, and describing the change of the guard at St. James Place that we saw at 11 AM following 2 minutes of silence throughout town.  It always amazes me the US history that British citizens have — but it could be his generation.

I then walked south of the Thames to the war museum, had lunch there, and then toured it.  My focus was on the exhibits on London during WWII and the WWI exhibit.  Then I left to catch the tube.

I did pick up one booklet at the travel bureau that mentioned the Museum of London — now that I was not aware of, so I headed over to the City of London at the old Roman Wall, and WOW.  I could not do it all, it is great – may go back tomorrow.  Fantastic book shop (bought two Dickens items) and before I started this note I ordered a book on line that the Museum puts out on the history of London.  It is great, but at 30 GBP (over $45), I knew I could do better, and got a copy on line for $35 USD postpaid from London to the US.

No theater tonight.  When David and I were in Leicester Square last night they were setting up for the world premium of the new Harry Potter film – yes real groupies were already set up in a tent city there.  There were posters to avoid the square tonight.  I came back, had diner 1/2 block away, came to type, and will cross the street to my place to read and sleep.

Will still have to plan tomorrow, but not in a rush because I will be back very soon.

Let me reread this to see what I forgot, and then “send” — RAY

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Sent: Friday, November 12, 2010 10:48:37 AM
Subject: Friday afternoon 12 Nov
Hi all,

Just wrote a beautiful email and lost it – Control C on this keyboard deleted and not saved (or I just goofed) almost out of time on this 20 minutes for 1 GBP so will send this, add another pound and try to remember what I said since I am selfishly doing this for my own memory.  But I really appreciate your notes telling me you enjoyed my travels.  Oh, why 20 minutes — I am at the Visitor Center in the city and not the little place near my home which gives me an hour for a pound (will not be back there in time tonight).

Three minutes, let me see what I can say.  This AM toured Camden Lock near where I have been staying – lovely and historic; next to Camden Town – funky and hippy Greenwich Village like. Then took the tube down to the Banqueting Hall built in the 1630s and the site of the beheading of Charles I.  The ceilings are covered by paintings by Rubins – impressive. I then traveled over the Westminster Bridge to the Florence Nightingale Museum (was going to tell you why in next email, but dropped another pound in – only money)

Why this museum you ask?  I have wanted to learn more about the Crimean War, and I mention her during my Walpole Historical Society Cemetery Tour in my persona as the Rev. Henry W. Bellows.  Lincoln (yes ABE) commissioned him to establish the Sanitary Commission for the welfare of the Civil War troops, and Bellows patterned it after her work in Crimea — wow, learned a great deal and I highly recommend this museum as a look into Victorian medicine and sanitation problems.

Then I crossed back over, walked to Buckingham Palace and took the obligatory photo of a guard, walked through the parks and stumbled in here on the way.  It was my plan to stop here, because I decided I could not carry all the brochures I selected all day yesterday, so I squirreled them away in one spot.  Thought I would bring a plastic bag along to make carrying easier.  Well, I was correct, my selected brochures were still secreted away on the same back rack.

I now am visiting some traditional (not tourist) clothing shops that my hostess recommended.  I do not need anything, but am on a quest now for a “proper” British cap to wear while driving my TR3.   I will then head over to the 1/2 ticket booth.  I decided that I want to see DIRTY DANCING so I can see how they adapted the story to the stage – remember I love the movie and music.  I will have dinner in Covent Garden or right in the theater area (actually they run together), and after the show take the tube back, pack, and in the morning head to Heathrow.

Awful fast, but I will be back.  Some of the literature I retrieved just now is for future journeys, and I think on future trips (unless I get a car) I will use London as a base and do day trips or overnights to the countryside on British Rail.

So, Boston Saturday at 5:30, home by 9:30, check emails, and soak tired feet.  It has been great, and I am ready to go again, but will be glad too to be back on the common and working on A CHRISTMAS CAROL.

Love, RAY

PS – another side benefit of emailing — I have been off my feet for 30 minutes

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Sent: Friday, November 12, 2010 2:20:45 PM
Subject: Re: Friday afternoon 12 Nov — BONUS EMAIL

Hi,

A BONUS — just had dinner in the pub off Covent Garden where Boswell met Johnson in 1763 (I think).  Boswell then became Johnson’s biographer.  Covent Garden is really fun with the shops and street shows, and now after dinner on the other side I found a large open space exhibiting all the new APPLE equipment.  Of course, I am PC, but have used David and Mari’s machines enough to do the basics.  So a quick Hi

Shows on Friday nights for DIRTY DANCING are 5 and 8:30, so 8:30 it is having missed the 5 — but gives me more time to play in this exciting area — that no way can ever match Walpole.  Late night, BUT, sleep on way home.  Love, RAY

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Sent: Saturday, November 13, 2010 10:55 PM

Subject: Sat Night – 13 Nov

Final “sad” report — I am home!!!

Hi all,

Trip home was like clockwork, but first will say that DIRTY DANCING was very well done.  I really wondered how they would do all the scene changes as seen in the movie, but with fantastic lighting, back projection screens, a front projection scrim (Tara my mind is going crazy with ideas for ACC) and rotating stage sections and hydraulic lifts etc. it was great.  Actors actually looked and sounded like the movie characters, and the dancing throughout was grand.

Got back to my home at 11:45, packed, slept a tad, up at 7:30, and off to Heathrow at 9.  Arrived at 10:30, and easy check in with thus a long wait.  Walked around the shopping area thinking well, maybe I can still find a hat.  The ones I saw at an exclusive hatter on a wonderful shopping street my hostess recommended did not grab me, and at 69 GBP (well over $100) I was afraid to have it blow off.  She had suggested I go there instead of Harrods because Harrods is not what it used to be under Fiad’s (sp) ownership (at least I was there in 1994).   Well, Harrods had a shop at the airport, mainly Christmas items, but I went in.  Saw two caps – too small.  A nice saleslady came up and said, “I think I saw another in the office” and she sent someone to look.  It was perfect, “country colors” (term I learned from the professional hatter – earth browns etc – not black, white, gray).  A fraction of the price I saw before, and no VAT for a further savings – 38.50 GBP, still $63).  I said, “please set it aside, let me see if there are any others in any other shops.”  Well, I walked out, went about 50 paces and went back and bought it — mission complete, and my one purchase other than a few museum booklets.

I then bought a few sandwiches (again no VAT since take away) to eat before each boarding (remember I changed planes in Iceland on the way home) and my gate number went up so off I went to board.  IcelandicAir charges for food in “economy class” and it was cheaper to buy something beforehand.

Arrived in Boston on time, cleared customs and called David (now in California) to find out where he parked my car.  He gave me directions (I called him while standing in front of an airport chart – it helped me), and I walked right to my car. Headed off to Mass Pike to I-95 to Route 2 for my usual route home.

So, now to “catch up” here.  Cats were fine and happy.  My evening projects other that working on A CHRISTMAS CAROL will be to start planning my next trip.  Thanks again for “following” my journeys, see you soon, love, RAY

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