Yulia’s cousin Dasha was coming to visit us from Riga while we were in London. She and her husband Vadim were going to fly in from Riga and stay until we head home in two days. For them this was an easy way to visit, as it’s a short flight for them, and we intentionally got an apartment with some extra space for them. It can be hard sometimes having family across the planet, so any time there’s a change to get together it s good plan to do it. Also, Dasha and Vadim visited us in Seattle last year, and it was a fantastic time, so I was happy to see them again.
They arrived around lunchtime, and we had just been hanging out in the apartment resting. It was actually really good to take the downtime, as we’ve been pretty overloaded and busy. Once they arrived we had hugs all around, got them unpacked, and decided to go do some actual tourism. We grabbed a quick lunch at Pret Manger, then caught a taxi over to Trafalgar Square. We didn’t want to go crazy trying to see the sights, but mostly to walk around a bit and have fun. We went into the National Gallery first, mostly because we wanted to see the Van Gogh an impressionist art. You could spend an entire day there, but we weren’t up for that. Sasha is a big Van Gogh fan, and we spent a lot of time in Paris at galleries just for that reason. Sasha really loved his sunflowers, I actually love his chair painting. I’m not sure why we gravitate towards that type of art. But, we do. Sometimes it’s probably OK just to like something and not over examine it.
We went from the Gallery out into Trafalgar Square, then worked our way towards Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. It was already hot out, and the crowds were pretty heavy. I was still suffering for not purchasing a hat, so I started looking at the tourist stands to see if there was something that looked worth picking up. I didn’t see anything right away. We made our way to Westminster Abbey, and found that since it was Sunday, we couldn’t tour, but could attend services. That didn’t seem right, so we just got pictures of the outside, and tried to figure out a next plan. Tower bridge sounded like a good stop, and Dasha recommended we go there via the river. That was brilliant! We walked up past Big Ben. The whole clock tower is under restoration, so all you could see is a single clock face and a shitload of scaffolding. There was a boat dock just on the river next to Big Ben, so we check to see if tickets were available. On the way to the dock, one of the tourist stands had some pretty good hats. I pointed out a nice Arsenal hat (Go Gunners!), and the guy reached for a Chelsea hat.
What a tosser.
I corrected his grievous error, purchased the Arsenal hat, and we went and got tickets for one of the river taxis. We figured to get a one way to Tower Bridge, then walk around the area. We weren’t trying to plan too hard. The water taxi was fun, but it was just getting hotter pretty quick. It was nice to cruise up the river, listening to the mostly made up stories from the tour guide/deck hand. We arrived at the Tower Bridge dock, and went ashore. We got about ten feet before we felt the heat. I’ve learned my lesson about heat in the past, you don’t mess with it. I managed to get heat exhaustion three years in a row. So if we were overheating, we needed out of the heat. We found a nice place to get an early dinner. It was right across from the Tower of London. We had a few drinks and some pretty good dishes. Service was pretty slow, but we were also absorbing the air conditioning. It ended up being just right. We finished and caught a taxi back to the apartment.
We weren’t sure what to do in the evening, so everyone decided to just rest for a while. After a bit Vadim and I sat out on the patio and opened up some scotch I brought with us. His English is pretty good, and my Russian is pretty good, so we were able to have a pretty good conversation. Dasha came out after a bit, then Yulia. Vadim and i ran to the corner market and picked up some extra wine and beer, and some cheese and other snacks. Sasha was out once we got back, and we just hung out together for the rest of the evening.
The sun went down over the London rooftops behind us, and it cooled off enought that we could get some actual sleep.