Our first destination was the London Eye. This is partly because the night before, while dining at Nippon Tuk, we had such an excellent view of the skyline and this really dominated. Having finally obtained our Oyster cards, we headed for our first ride on the Tube. Having never ridden on an underground train before, I was a little nervous but the Man and Super Dave had been studying the maps while looking to everyone else like they were busy working on important convention stuff. This closest stop was the Edgware station on the Bakerloo line. It's the brown line on all the maps. It's very small and instead of riding down a steep escalator, like at most of the stations, this one packs everyone into a large elevator. There are stairs but a sign posted on them reads "This staircase contains 127 stairs. Please use only in an emergency."
We emerge triumphantly from the Underground at the Waterloo station. We see the Eye almost immediately. I mean, really, how could you miss it?
It's the largest Ferris wheel in the world. And yes, that is the Silver Surfer flying through the center. It big and impressive, kinda cool. And very expensive. We didn't want to *ride* the thing, just gawk at it. And we were looking for a place to eat. Now, one of our little group was not educated in all things London. I won't tell you his name (but his initials are Super Dave). When we approached a potential location for food consumption, he was appalled to discover that it was, in reality, a bar. It's a pub. Pubs are restaurants. Yes, they serve copious amounts of booze but they've got real food, too. So begins the walking. While walking, we see something familiar across the river...
Houses of Parliament (the castle-looking part, like our Congress) and Big Ben. Big Ben is not the name of the clock or the tower. It's the name of the bell inside, which we got to hear toll on a few occasions.
Pretty, isn't it? Oh, I got a lot more photos as we weren't finding any place acceptable to eat (I said no to McDonald's).
Thought we might have more luck going down a particular street but we hadn't taken but a few steps when suddenly, coppers were asking us to please leave the area (and more coppers were arriving with sirens blaring). So we left. Really left. We got on the Westminster Tube and headed somewhere completely different: Piccadilly Circus. And boy, is it a circus! My pictures of this place didn't come out at all. So just imagine Time Square-like flashing digital billboards mixed with statues and fountains that are probably 100 years old. Interesting place! And very busy, as it has quite the nightlife. We strolled for a little while until Super Dave spotted his greatest love: a steak house. We made a beeline for the place.
It was called Aberdeen Steak House (and is apparently a chain, as we saw many of them). The boys had Coke and I ordered a lemonade. Okay, here's another London Survival Tip: lemonade in England is really Sprite with a lemon wedge stuck in it. *sigh* This place offered all different kinds of sauces to drip all over your steak, but the boys were having none of that. And after one bite, they realized why sauce was needed. The steak was not seasoned, marinated or in any other way altered from it's natural form (other than the cooking part). My chicken Kiev was a disappointment, as well. If only we'd known. We didn't bother to order dessert and instead, we trudged back to the hotel, where happiness awaited us in an ice cream form.
They obviously get a lot of people who don't speak the same language so they tried to make things easy when indicating the flavors. Notice the whole coconut smooshed in the - get this - coconut ice cream. Clever, eh? Their mint chocolate chip was excellent but my favorite was the hazelnut (which is being scooped).