Friday afternoon, January 9, 2015

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Ahhhhhh, this now is London!  We had an on-time departure from Dallas-Fort Worth Airport last evening, and a very smooth, 8-hour (6 time zones) flight across the Atlantic, experiencing only some “slight chop” in our pilot’s terms on our descent into London.  The skies were clear, ground temperature a balmy 54oF.  The lucky few people on the right side of the plane got to see an aerial view of Central London as we approached Heathrow Airport.  We cleared immigration then went to pick up our luggage.  Noooooooo checked luggage—16 people, 16 pieces of checked luggage, but not in London Heathrow Airport.  The airlines accessed our group record, and the only registry in the computer was that the luggage was scanned in Grand Rapids.  No other scan—not Chicago, not Dallas-Fort Worth.  (Is it possible it is still sitting in Grand Rapids?!)  So the airline is “working on it.”

We caught our private hire coach ride from Heathrow to Central London.  In route, we passed the Natural Science Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Harrods, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Parliament, Big Bend, and St. Paul’s Cathedral.  Inspiring—this is why we came here!  We checked into the YHA London St. Paul’s Hostel, took inventory of what we had and what we needed to get through the next few days.  Some of us put the chargers for our laptops and phones, and many of us put our electrical adapters in our checked luggage.  We took a walking tour around our hostel, visiting St. Paul’s Cathedral, getting lunch nearby, then on to our first ride on the Underground (“the tube”) to Monument.  Saw where the Great London Fire of 1666 started in the King’s bakery on Pudding Lane.  Then off to Tower of London, walked across Tower Bridge, and took the Thames Walk along the south banks of the Thames, back to Millenium Bridge and our hostel.  As we crossed the Tower Bridge, I said to the students “IF we get our luggage…” and was drowned out by a chorus of “WHEN we get our luggage….”  The upbeat nature of these students after wearing the same clothes for 48 hours now is inspiring.  We’re looking forward to clearing this hurdle and having a really good time.  After supper, the plan is off to the British Museum, and if our eyes can stay open when the museum closes at 8:30 p.m., we’ll take a gander at the night lights of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and the London Eye.

Photographs, L to R: A-Awaiting flight from DFW to LHR, B-St. Paul’s Cathedral dome

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