Thursday, October 26, 2006

Going to the chapel and we're gonna get . . .

After another delightful sleep in the holiday inn we awoke to our last opportunity for visiting the sites of London. We had 3 1/2 hours in which we wanted to ram in as much as possible. First stop - Saint Paul's. How nice to see it from the inside instead of as a blur as the tour bus goes flying by!! We walk in to just a hint of beauty as the entrance is very strategically placed around pillars, etc. so that you can barely have a peak at what this fabulous cathedral holds. Even the brochures didn't give much away. After a short debate in which we collectively decided that if we didn't pay the 10 pound entrance we would certainly regret it, we slapped our money on the table, walked through the entrance and came upon the most spectacular vision one can imagine. It seriously was absolutely incredible!! (Below is a little preview - but to be warned, even their website doesn't give much away)

So we had an hour to spend there. Strategically utilised and because Fran and I lost each other after the whispering gallery we each saw some of the same sights and some different ones. After wandering around and viewing the beauty from below it was time for the 350 steep and incredibly narrow stair climb to the whispering gallery. You are supposed to be able to whisper on one side and hear it on the other however with all the chatter - it didn't work for Fran and I. Another 150 steps again steep and narrow - good thing we have been enduring the hunger anger so our hips would actually fit through - we hit the stone gallery. This had some incredible views of london. At this point (don't ask me how as it is only about 2 feet wide and a span of maybe 45 feet that we could explore) Fran and I lost each other. She went down, down, down to the crypt. While I was mistaken for Suzanne Sommer's with my buns of steel for an additional 200 steps up a metal winding staircase to the very top. Wow!! And Fran's account of the crypt is much the same. In her words, the crypt was as equally beautiful as the rest of the chapel. It wasn't huge but the center contains the body of Lord Nelson with wreaths surrounding it. (British certainly seem to honor their dead a lot more than we do as Canadians. They had a wreath asking for guidance the same way he guided their ancestors.) Then in true British form there were numerous monuments to other notable individuals such as Florence Nightingale and Winston Churchhill.

After that we were off from the church where Princess Di was married in to the church of Fergie's wedded blissful start - West Minster Abbey. I don't think any two cathedrals could be more opposite. Immediately upon entering West Minster we followed the flow of the crowd to crypt upon crypt upon crypt with bodies and monuments laid to rest there. Although we are not too sure on how they chose those being laid to rest as the group was very eclectic. The main one to not was Mary Queen of Scots. Again various places had wreaths and flowers freshly placed to honor the individuals. When we met up at the end - we both had the feeling that the Abbey contained a lot of secrets - oh if those walls could talk - or graves for that matter!! However, it was still beautiful and had all these interesting little sections or rooms and the main sections were relatively small unlilke most cathedrals which have a huge auditorium. There was a poet's corner with monuments acclaiming the success of some famous writers, there were little garden areas with fountains and sitting benches and everything had a very political/royal feel even with the flags and crests from various influential british families in one of the King Henry chapels (we can't remember if it was seven or eight or . . . ).

Again we didn't have much time as we needed to be back for check out at the hotel. After packing in a flury and heading across the street for a wonderfully typical lunch in the local British pub (the food was quite yummy!!) we were off to the airport for Dubai!! Oh the beach - come and get us!!

Now Emirates appeared almost as disorganized as Air Canada (from the Fran peanut gallery - 'If that can be possible'!!) but once we hit the plane we were delightfully surprised and very much relieved. Fran was sure we weren't going to make it as there were random lines through everything we needed to go through - security, tickets, passport control! But we did in our Yoga pants while everyone else was dolled up for the overnight flight in all their latest fashions! We had a pretty yummy meal as far as plane food goes, the flight attendants were very attentive, the man next to us was rarely in his seat and we had individual tv's for movies, games or radio. Before we knew it we were landing in the land of sun!! Our luggage arrived fairly promptly, taxis were waiting, we didn't bust into an instant sweat (although there have certainly been moments since arriving in this area that remind me of the James Joyce patio in the heat of summer back home!) and we were whisked away to our fabulous hotel. Finally being treated like the Princesses we are!!

As for the room - let's just say we were greeted with comp water, a coffee tray, slippers and robes, two beds, a view, big closets and more room than our last two hotels combined!! But we were tired little cookies and so off to bed it was :)

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