Alan spent about a year in the UK starting around November of 2004. In March of 2005, I took a trip with Sarah, Libby, Erin, Steve, Steve, and Emily to visit him while he was living in London.
- Day 1 - We all started the trip from three different places: I was in Chicago, Libby was in Baltimore, and the others were in Amherst. While I hopped on a flight to London that started in Chicago and had a layover in Baltimore, the Amherst crew climbed onto their own flight that left Boston. I picked up Libby on my way through Baltimore's airport, and we all met up at Heathrow many hours later. After grabbing our bags, the crew took a train to our home-away-from-home for the week, the London Globetrotter. We then headed off to the Westminster area for a little orientation, went to the Westminster Cathederal, and then bummed around the hostel for the rest of the day getting used to the time change. After night fell we decided to hop on a train down to the Tower of London, looking at its beauty when lit up at night.
- Day 2 - We started our real tourism the next day at the Tower of London, where we arrived just in time to hop in on a great tour given by one of the Beefeaters. After a few hours of storming the castle, including a peek at the crown jewels, we began a leisurely walk about London. This included a stop by the Globe Theatre (no, not the original one), a trip up to St. Paul's, and examination of various old buildings inbetween. Eventually we headed over to Alan's birthday party, which was one of our excuses for heading across the sea in the first place.
- Day 3 - Day three began at Westminster Abbey, where we saw the graves of just about every famous person England has ever produced. This included Darwin, Newton, Dickens, and many old kings. After a thorough examination, we wandered down to the Parliment Houses and saw Big Ben up close. After wandering through a big park, we arrived at Buckingham Palace just in time for the changing of the guard. We next relaxed at Trafalgar Square for a bit, and then made a trip up to Abbey Road Studios just to cross the street. Finally, we made a quick stop by Sherlock Holmes' office before finding some dinner and quitting for the day.
- Day 4 - The next morning we grabbed a train west to spend a rainy day in Oxford. We got there around lunchtime, so the first thing we did was grab some lunch at the Eagle and Child, where J.R.R. Tolkein and C.S. Lewis used to hang out together. We then spent the rest of the day wandering the city, looking at the old colleges, parks, and monuments, and in general trying to stay dry. It was dark when we got back to London, so Sarah and I ran down to the Tower of London again to take some pictures of the place with its lights on.
- Day 5 - We split up on day 5 to go look at lots of different things; I chose to spend the day at the British Museum. I spent about seven hours there and managed to see most of the first floor, so I'd definitely suggest budgeting some time if you really want to see everything. One of the best sights of the day was the Rosetta Stone, which I spent too long staring at as if I could pick out recognizable parts to it. Of course, I also saw every other old thing in the world while there, 'cuz that's where they all are stored these days.
- Day 6 - The next morning was spent at the National Gallery looking at a wide variety of art from throughout history. The building was under renovation and packed full of people at the time, but what we got to see was great. Sadly, they didn't allow pictures inside. After staring at art for the day, we went on a long winding walk throuh Hyde Park.
- Day 7 - Our final full day in London started out with a trip down to Greenwich to see the Royal Observatory and the Prime Meridian. While there I stepped back and forth between the eastern and western hemispheres until it lost its novelty (about three times), and then we went in and learned all about how the Observatory had played a big part in ocean navigation. After we had finished stuffing our minds with information, we split up again: most of the others had a flight to catch, while I had an entire half day left on my trip. Much of that time was spent at the Imperial War Museum wher, among other things, I learned about World War II from a non-US centered point of view.