Thursday, 15 March 2018

Frederick, Maryland

(Note: Will add pictures later…)

March 14:

On my last full day in London I decided it was time to watch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. I’d seen parts of the ceremony, but this time I’ll have a guide I downloaded to help me through the guard-changing process. A little birthday gift to myself.

You never know about the weather in London, but today I’m thinking it will be sunny most of the day. As I walked from the Green Park station to Buckingham Palace, you could see the clouds partings and a clear day developing.

I found a place near the palace where I could see the troops coming and going from the palace. If I had been here a couple of hours before I could have had a place outside the palace gates and had a front-row view, but that didn’t happen. But I was happy where I was.

While waiting, I saw a helicopter land behind the palace. I kept my eye on the royal flag flying over the palace to see if it was the queen who was riding in the helicopter, since the flag only flies over the palace when the queen is in residence. But the helicopter took off and the flag was still waving, so someone else must have been on the craft.

I took pictures from several different angles. Asked someone next to me to take my picture too.

After the ceremony was over I walked down the Mall then over to Westminster Abbey and Big Ben. Saw that Big Ben was now fully encased in scaffolding. The Palace of Westminster also had scaffolding and could see work being done on Westminster Abbey. It could be several years before we see the newly refurbished buildings without the scaffolding.

I returned back to the hotel and posted a funny birthday message on Facebook. Since I’m now 64, posted a YouTube video of The Beatles, “When I’m 64” on my page. Will be fun to read the comments later, after I take a nap.

When I woke up from my nap I started responding to Facebook, Messenger, and Email messages. Somewhere during this time I started to get ready for my dinner with Prean and Viktor.

At 6:15 I left for dinner. There was some underground work being done so I had to make a detour, but arrived at the restaurant a little late and ready for a glass of wine while I waited for the guys to arrive. I asked if we could meet at Tuscanic Belgravia, a Tuscan restaurant where we ate last October. I was in the mood for Italian food.

We ordered a bottle of wine for dinner, a starter of mixed cheese and meats, then ordered dinner. The guys each had a fish dish and I opted for cannelloni. Very relaxing restaurant and popular with the locals. One of the owners sat down with us and visited for quite a while and offered us a couple of rounds of limoncello after we had our tiramisu for dessert.

Took a picture of Prean and Viktor as we parted ways after dinner. I’ll try to return to London in July, but we’ll see.

March 15

Today I leave for the U.S. and will stop by and visit with Paula for a few days before flying to Portland.

While at breakfast I started to wonder if I was leaving early enough to catch the plan that was scheduled to leave at 10:35. As a result, I hurried to pack and left an extra 30 minutes.

I took the train from Shepherd’s Bush to Charring Cross station, then to Gatwick Airport. I arrived in time to check my baggage, go through security and got to the gate in time to board the plane. Glad I left a little early so I didn’t have to rush through the airport.

The flight was an easy one to Keflavik Airport where I waited for a couple of hours for my flight to Baltimore. I kept myself occupied looking for an outlet to recharge my phone and laptop. Also had some lunch while waiting. Before long it was time to board the plan. Again, we left on time and were on our way.

I sat next to an American couple who were touring Iceland for the past week. The three of us were sitting in an exit row and were enjoying our extra leg room. I had downloaded a few programs to watch which helped pass the time. Also took pictures out the window of the takeoff from Keflavik and a couple of pictures of the frozen land (Greenland?) below.

We arrived in Baltimore 20 minutes ahead of scheduled. And after passing through Passport Control and another checkpoint, I was standing in front of the terminal waiting for Paula to pick me up.

It was great seeing Paula again! She is now settled in Frederick, Maryland with her doggie and three cats. We talked nearly non-stop for five hours while she prepared dinner and had a birthday cake too.

Tomorrow we will drive around Frederick and the surrounding area. Not 100% sure what we’re doing and will play it my ear. Very helpful to have Paula help me reacquaint myself with the U.S.


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