LONDON, BELGIUM, NETHERLANDS VACATION

 

Al's Flat
Al's Second Flat *
London Sights *
London Eye
Tower of London *
Markets *
Natural History Museum *
London Underground *
Buckingham Palace
Hampton Court Palace *
Windsor Castle *
Stonehenge
Oxford/Stratford
Bath
Brussels
Brugge
Rotterdam
Amsterdam

I've grouped our pictures into categories shown to the left. Click on each picture to view that group. The items with * contain pictures from my second trip to England.

Al's company sent him to London to work for 3 months. So of course I had to take that opportunity to visit. I went the end March for two weeks which spanned Easter so he had a 4-day weekend for us to go over to the Continent. I went back to London again the beginning of May for 10 days.

We had a great time. Al's flat is very nice and in an upscale neighborhood. We saw many Jaguars, BMW's and Mercedes on the street. I learned how to get around London on the "Tube" very easily. We had very good weather, cool but no rain. They said this is the longest they've gone without rain in years. The first weekend we took two day trips, one to Oxford, the Cotswolds and Stratford. The other was to Stonehenge and Bath. During the week I was on my own while Al was working. I went to Harrods which is very overpriced but has great food), Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London. Many evenings we went to the local pub by his flat for dinner and a "pint" of Guinness. The food was excellent and I've taken a liking to the beer. One evening we rode on the London Millenium Eye. It's an enormous ferris wheel with glass enclosed cages that hold up to 20 people at a time.

The EuroStar train through the Chunnel was fun and very relaxing. First Class is definitely worth the price. We rented a car (a small Mercedes Benz) to drive around Belgium and the Netherlands but I will never do that again. Finding streets is a real chore and we got lost so many times.

Brussels has some beautiful architecture. Brugge is the "Cultural Capital" of Europe for 2002 and is a quaint little town with lots of canals. It's called the Venice of the North. Because of spring break there were many young people there. Hundreds of bicycles. Again I tried many of the local beers which they are known for.

Rotterdam is not so much a tourist town but we had to see the home of Holland America Lines. The city is more modern since it was completely destrooyed during World War II. Amsterdam is amazing. It's filled with canals and very old buildings. The war did not do as much damage here since the Germans occupied it. All over the place you find "Coffee Houses" that sell marijuana and hasish where you can buy and smoke it legally. Again it was very crowded due to spring break. We toured Ann Franks's house and took a canal ride. We also had to visit the Red Light District and see the "girls" in their windows.

Now for my second visit to London:

Al had to switch flats before I got there because of some major plumbing problems. His new flat (just a few doors down the block) is a bit smaller than the last one but still very nice. The elevator has keylocks by each floor number and you use your key to get to your flat. When it opens, it's right into your flat.

The first Sunday we went to some of the markets there. The first was the Portobello Market that was shown in "Notting Hill." I have a picture of me by the Travel Book Store that was in the movie. However, there are many "blue doors" so I don't know which one was his flat. We also went to the Covent Gardens Market.

We went to the Tower of London. The crowds were smaller so we go to see the Crown Jewels. Unbelievable that there could be so many precious stones in one family. The rest of the tower buildings were interesting too and Al preferred the White Tower that showed displays of all the armour and weaponry used throughout the ages.

During the week I took a bus tour to Windsor Castle while Al was working. That is some place! I had seen it from the air as we approached London and was amazed at the size. We toured the outside grounds with a guide and then we were able to walk through the State Apartments (but not allowed to take pictures). They use these rooms for state functions when the Queen is in residence. They pointed out the wing where she resides but she wasn't there at this time and you're never allowed near there.

The next weekend we went to the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum. The Natural History Museum building is unbelievable. From the outside (and even places inside) you think it should be a cathederal.

The weather was typical London. It rained a few mornings, was overcast most of the time although a few afternoons the sun would peek out. The temperatures
were in the mid to high 50's. Actually I had better weather in March as far as seeing the sun. London is such a fun place but as usual, I walked my legs off. That is
not a place to be if you don't like walking!

Hope you enjoy the pictures.