London: Day Two

I woke up at 6:30 a.m. and fixed a cup of instant coffee that the hotel provided.  For me, I really didn’t care.  In fact, I drank two cups before heading down to the dinning room for breakfast.  Needed a little boost – perhaps the time change?   No, didn’t have my coffee in the dinning room.  Did I mention that I was upgraded to a suite?  See the picture of the dinning room below?  No need to see the other pictures – you get the idea.


The breakfast in the hotel’s dinning room was complimentary, so I made sure to try a little bit of everything and since it was my first English breakfast.  Included was this incredibly strong coffee, which I loved!  After breakfast I tried to take a nap, but after the strong coffee … no way.  I used the time to resolve or update tasks that I didn’t get done before leaving Portland.  They were all “C” priority (nice to have) but still was good to have them done.  Headed toward St. James’s Square so I could sit in one of the park benches there.  Why? Okay, so here is the story about the park bench in St. James’s Square…

The Vision:  When a project manager, I worked best when I could image what “finished” looked like.  The short story is that for my retirement adventure I imagined sitting on a park bench in St. James’s Square in London.  To do so, I knew that I had completed everything that needed to be done in order for me to start the adventure.  Why St. James’s Park – probably a place I heard on Downton Abby.  (Probably!)  Why a park bench – don’t know that either.  The combination of the two made sense – so that was my vision, my goal.

Now back to the events of the day…

Leaving the hotel, I decided to head to St. James’s Square.  On the way I would pass by Kensington Gardens, Queens Gate, Prince Albert’s Hall, memorial status to Prince Albert, and a memorial to Wellington.  And had lunch near Hyde Park’s Speaker’s Corner, the sandwich was tuna and sweet corn – not something that I’d normally try, but why not?  And I liked it!

St. James’s Square is just off Piccadilly and down a lane of very nice shops.  The square has some very well-appointed homes, businesses, and clubs surrounding the private park (closes at 4:30 p.m.).  I took a few laps around the park to find just the right park bench for me to sit.  I couldn’t decide. But as it happens, when I let go of expectations, the bench found me along with the person to take my picture.  He and the bench looked approachable, so I asked him if he would take my picture sitting on the bench.  I didn’t give a reason, but he took my camera when offered and documented my sitting in a bench in St. James’s Square.  But it isn’t really the picture, it is that my objective is complete and did what I was out to accomplish, for no other reason that to know that I was at a point in life where I could turn the corner and head off in some new direction.  And I am.  Not sure what it will look like. How did I feel sitting on the park bench and afterward?  All I can say is that I didn’t feel any different, but I did turn a corner.  No trumpets, sirens, fireworks, harps, or anything like that.  What happens next – we shall see.  I took some other pictures to commemorate this event.  (See pictures below.)

After that experience I headed back to the hotel to get ready for the next AirBnB stay and to meet up with Ben, who I was introduced to a few years ago and currently lives and works in London and with extensive European travel experience. We met up at the flat I’ll live in for the next four days and he helped me check it out along with the person giving the tour. We then went off to a pub and talked about a variety of subjects about living in different places, careers, retirement, philanthropy, and what SIM card I can use in my phone. Good to connect with someone who has been-there / done-that and gets it too.  I’ll catch up with him when I return to London towards the end of the year.  I’d like to be in London during the Christmas season. Many adventures between now and then…

IMG_20160707_142826946_HDRMe, sitting in park bench

IMG_20160707_141527388_HDR Made it!!


Left NYC at 11:00 p.m. and arrived in London (Gatwick) at 10:30 a.m. local time and went through customs and got to hotel (via train, then taxi) in 90 minutes. Didn’t sleep on the flight, but was well-fed (full dinner and breakfast) and had movies to watch. Was surprised with an upgrade to a suite, including a nice dining room. Took a nap, though, as soon as I checked in.  Then went for a walk.  Really need to pay attention when crossing the street but didn’t get run over, so I’ll claim the walk successful.  Saw a number of sites in a couple of hours.  I’m in the Kensington area so close to a number of attractions.  Surprisingly, I only had one “what am I doing” moment when landing this morning.  But after getting settled in, I’m ready.  Bring it on!  Still need to figure out what I’m doing about a phone.  Tried to get a SIM card to work in my current phone, but my first attempt didn’t work.  I’ll figure something out.  With limited WiFi, I did find myself walking in circles – so took a cab back tothe hotel, otherwise I might still be walking around.   Second thought, I know I’d still be walking around.

Now for some pictures…  (Random – some from today and some from yesterday.  Was going to put in order, but that was took much like work, and since I’m retired, and CEO of my time, I decided not to.  Ha!  🙂

The cabin had a monitor what showed the flight path and time to arrive at the airport.  It was like watching a clock – guess it was!

IMG_20160702_221924160 How much further?

IMG_20160702_221951022When do we land?

IMG_20160702_222207 New Whitney Museum

IMG_20160704_204417771 4th of July Fireworks IMG_20160704_213002427 Brooklyn BridgeIMG_20160704_213021013 Too many to show…IMG_20160705_123008678_HDR NYC City HallIMG_20160705_184750 Fountain by City Hall

IMG_20160705_185223Oldest City Hall in U.S.

IMG_20160702_231626First view of EnglandIMG_20160705_170234944 Use this body bag for passport, CC, $$


Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (Gloria’s Aunt)

IMG_20160706_175003946_HDR Buckingham PalaceIMG_20160706_175141947 Buckingham PalaceIMG_20160706_175238913 Gates to the PalaceIMG_20160706_175512905_HDR Queen VictoriaIMG_20160706_175605494

IMG_20160706_184525126_HDRLook familiar?  Where is Big Ben?

Westminster AbbyIMG_20160706_184647409_HDR

IMG_20160706_184702664_HDRWestminster Abby


4th of July

Looking forward to the fireworks tonight.  I’ll try to find a spot somewhere near the Brooklyn Bridge.  What a great way to remember the United States by watching 4th of July fireworks on my last night here, for awhile.


Yesterday, I spent some time at The Met (Metropolitan Museum of Art) and in honor of the 4th, found the painting, Washington Crossing the Deleware.  The picture is large and hangs high in the gallery.  This isn’t the original.  Added some other pictures to today’s posting as well.


Various performers can be found in the NYC Subway Stations. Great way to pass the time waiting for a train.  Quite a variety, some quite good.  The performer pictured here was a crowd favorite.


Better planning would have given me more time in Bryant Park.  A vendor, Wafels & Dinges, was very tempting.  Really a very nice place in the heart of Manhatten.  Next time, I’ll get some quality time in Bryant Park.  Maybe at New York Fashion Week?

IMG_20160703_224916 IMG_20160703_224854 IMG_20160703_224826

As I mentioned above, I was at the Met yesterday. Like the Louvre and British Museum, can not be consumed in one day. One reason, for me, is that I can’t process so much art in one sitting.  Get too saturated and find myself not paying attention.


Was thinking about starting a collection of shop window displays.  I saw one display last night that I really liked. Maybe a collection would be interesting.  Another project!!

Getting ready to leave for London tomorrow night (11:00 p.m. flight).  Have a few errands to run tomorrow and will have time to spend time at the New Whitney before leaving for the airport.


Day 3 in New York City

Took a day off from site seeing.  Re-packing for London and looking for ways to lighten the load.  Continue to check out the LES (Lower East Side) and walking through the micro-neighborhoods and looking into the small shops along the way.   I have a picture to share from today, the Sara D. Roosevelt Park.  From Wiki research, guess she didn’t approve of having the park named for her.