Greetings! We’re in the bar at the Hyatt Churchill tonight enjoying a last after-dinner drink and pondering our emotional roller coaster ride today in this fascinating city.
We arrived early this morning, circling over the city on our final approach and seeing spectacular pre-dawn views of the Olympic park, Tower Bridge and the London Eye. After parking at our gate (a mere 20-minute taxi from the runway we landed on), we deplaned and hoofed it to the main terminal, a distance of more than a mile (I’m not kidding). The knees did ok, but I did have to stop and rest twice. After gathering our bags, we joined two other couples from our cruise in our tightly packed van transfer to the hotel.
We were exhausted when we arrived and, to our joy, we were able to go to our room right away. We decided to take showers and a nap, setting in for 3 hours of good sleep. We ony got about 2 hours of sleep on the plane, owing to our fast passage, a long dinner service and a great movie selection (I watched “Casablanca” and Steve toughed it out through “Prometheus”).
At noon, we ventured forth and headed for the Churchill War Rooms. This underground museum, near Whitehall and #10 Downing Street, is a must-see if you are in London. We spent over three hours wandering through the underground bunker exhibits and the adjacent Churchill museum (all about the man). My knees balked at the slow walking and standing, but got better after we walked over to Westminster Abbey and went in the door just before it closed for the day. I covertly took a few photos and we walked around the vast collection of dead Kings, Queens, Dukes, Earls, scientists, musicians, tradesmen, etc. A very beautiful place…
Alas, we didn’t get a chance to see the Horse Guards or go down the Thames. I was really tired from walking so we grabbed a cab to take us over to the posh Belgravia neighborhood near Petrus, where we had dinner reservations for tonight. We had a great cabby, who was very chatty and he recommended some pubs near Petrus where we could kill tme. He dropped us off at the Grenadiers, a famous pub on a dead-end “mews” or alley not far from our restaurant.
Steve and I sat in this small establishment, enjoying the ambience. After a while, I noticed that Steve was suddenly quiet and anxious. I finally asked him what was going on and he dropped the bombshell: “I think I lost my wallet”. My emotions immediately went from tired and happy, to “Holy s****, you have to be kidding!”. We analyzed our actions and determined that his wallet was either lifted in Westminster Abbey or dropped in the last taxi on our way over to Belgravia.
He got on the phone immediately to the Chase Mileage Pus Explorer Card. These folks were great – they created a way for us to still use the card while blocking unauthorized charges. We made a list of other things to do tonight for other items in Steve’s wallet, then walked over to Petrus for dinner.
Folks, I must say that Gordon Ramsay (he of “Kitchen Nightmares” and “Hell’s Kitchen” fame) knows what he is doing. We had an incredible dinner from the Chef’s menu. The staff was extremely solicitous and commiserated with our dilemma. Fortunately, I had another credit card we could use and all of our cash for the cruise was in the safe at the hotel, other than some pounds.
Lo and behold, during dinner, one of the head waiters came over and said that someone was on the phone looking for Steve. It was our taxi driver!! Another fare found Steve’s wallet on the floor of the taxi and the driver called the restaurant. He has everything intact and will deliver it tomorrow at our hotel before we leave for Dover at 10:30 am!!! We could not believe it! People are good and the Lord provides, that’s all we can say.
We’re falling asleep surfing the net at the hotel. We’ll finish the saga of the lost wallet and hopefully have a few pictures to post tomorrow.