As I said over the years, I was fortunate enough to visit London several times for work. I got to work with some UK based companies, and with a lot of folks in the company that lived there. Over that time I found that London is a place you can have a relaxing time. Yes, I was always on the run, always trying to get things done, but there are a wonder and a majesty in the city itself. I loved, for example, standing next to the remains of the Roman wall that surrounded the London that Rome protected nearly 2000 years ago. Walls are interesting now, but then were imposing battlements meant to keep the barbarians on the other side of the gate. To keep them out of the city that was to be London.
Another lesson I learned was the London Cabs are a hoot. Vastly different than the yellow cabs of the US. Plus the Cabbie normally was willing to talk, to share to explain as you drove into the city. I didn’t often take cabs other than coming from and going to the airport. I didn’t get a rental car in London ever. I have memories of my first experience with someone reversing the side of the road they usually drove on. My father, many years ago, after we landed in Ireland, ended up sideswiping a car. I drove once in Malaysia, but that was as bad as driving in NYC. I did drive once as well in Holland, but not in Amsterdam, I drove in the Dutch countryside and had a blast.
I also took to heart the fact that London is not much different from Paris, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and other major European Cities. Very much different than many US cities, but more because there are so many more buildings that have historical significance. Wandering through Westminster Cathedral brought a smile to my face, to see the places where great people rested, but also because of the old song. I love walking along the Thames. One of my customers had an office building right on the river. As we made our lunch the first day, we took it out on the veranda or porch and sat watching the boats go up and down the Thames. A day I will never forget. London is a magical city!
There was a time when I kept a suitcase packed. Having the duplicate items always needed ready to go. I had two hair brushes, razors, and everything ready to go. I would never know if that week I was in Omaha or Minneapolis. The trips to Europe I knew about, but there were a few surprises over the years. Today’s pictures are of the tail end of Christmas, in particular, a great picture of my Mother-in-law and my wife and Gwen. Gwen often talked about what was bothering her. She was, and to this day remains the most verbal dog we ever owned. Gwen and my wife had a special relationship, Gwen talked back to my wife all the time. The second picture is of just such a talking to going on!
The night pictures are another trip to London. It was a last minute get there in 12 hours kind of deal. Those were the hardest trips because I couldn’t prep the family for me being gone. I had two of those ever to Europe. One to Amsterdam on less than two days notice. The other, the one starting with night time pictures to London. I am, a little, complaining about those emergency trips. I suspect now, later in my career I would be better able to understand the reality of an emergency truly. A failure, as my father always used to say, to plan on your part is not an emergency on mine. It is your problem. I think now, I understand that, and am better prepared for the reality of someone else’s emergency!
(I wish to state for the public record that I am not allowed to post this picture and therefore it wasn’t me, Phoebe did it)!
I will end with the picture of the UK phone booth. I used to watch the show Dr. Who, 20 years ago. I liked it but never got deeply hooked. My kids were deeply hooked for a couple of years. That is a phase I think many kids go through. They, like me, are on the other side now. But I still love the English Phone Booths. They are unique in both how they appear and what they represent. The reality of phone booths, do they even make them anymore? The Red Iconic booths of London and the UK, or the smaller US style glass phone booths. Made famous in pictures with 20 people stuffed inside the phone booth. Or ironically brought to earth by George Carlin’s character in the movie “Bill and Ted’s excellent adventure.” Do they still make phone booths?
Wandering Londontown. Had a blast the week we were there. We had the Sunday before we had to work and the Saturday after to enjoy London. I can, having been many times say that London is one of my all-time favorite cities. I ranked them before in various blogs of the past (sadly it was on Niume, so the blog is longer available online). Quickly my all-time favorite cities are:
The list changes all the time of course, but I can honestly say the first four have pretty much been on my list for years. I love visiting those cities. Dublin is one of the experiences that you have in life, that you remember. London is a city to see, a place to wander. Let us not forget Bangkok and of course Copenhagen. Each of the cities on my list is a place I been to, enjoyed and wandered. Bangkok and Copenhagen are the only two cities so far on my top five list that I have taken my family, and that I visited with my parents. My wife and I have also been to Paris and Paris is a city that my parents and I stopped on our way to Bangkok. But Paris doesn’t make my list. It is a beautiful city, but far too often I’ve felt like a tourist in the city. In London and Dublin, I always felt like I was just home. Bangkok was home for a time, so that is a natural extension, but I still love the city now, even as it has changed radically from the Bangkok of my memories. Copenhagen is the one place I go to, that is always perfect.
The next five cities on my list, if I were to expand it out to ten are:
- Washington DC
Chicago is a city that I love; it moves up and down the list frequently. Mostly because I don’t go as often and forget the things about Chicago that I love. The others are cities that I have spent considerable time in, and places that are wonderful to visit! There you have my top 10 cities I love list. It is slightly different than the one I published two years ago. IT will be different in two years again! The cities in bold are the ones I’ve visited with both my parents (well at least my mother) and my wife and kids. The rest I’ve visited on my own, except for Amsterdam where I got the chance to take my wife and kids but never visited with my parents.
The world is a small place, filled with wonder and we must share that wonder!
Family historian and list keeper
My third trip to London was as part of the project I was doing in NYC. We ended up spending a week in London at a wonderful hotel. We were able to arrive on Saturday late (my friend got there a few hours earlier than I did). We spent the daytime hours in the Financial district of London near the last of the old London Wall. Also, as an aside near the London School for Girls. Not that we wandered to that school, just that we were near it. We got to hang out with a great crew of people in the London office of the company we were working with. They were the early team for the project and had a lot of very detailed questions. I spent four days getting grilled by technical folks and solving really hard problems.
My good friend (he is in a couple of the pictures) loved to watch me squirm. So him seeing me try to answer the really hard technical questions that were being posted. I did, with a little help from some other folks, manage to fix the issues. Which in the end was good, as mentioned this was the early adopter group for our project, and they are critical to our success. They were also the most vocal group and getting them to our side was a key goal of our in-person visit. We did, but it took some time that week. The first couple of days were long, grinding focused whiteboard days. Lunch was usually wandered to a nearby café or small restaurant and grabbed something to eat.
(the Roman wall of London, well what is left of it).
Dinner was a great experience. We wandered to a number of the area pubs to try a variety of the London experience. We also spent a night wandering London’s Theater District. The Theater district lies just on the other side of Trafalgar Square, and near the museum district. It was also really close to a church I had learned about many years before on NPR. The church has a famous choir, and they often share their music with the US audience via NPR> St. Martins in the field is the name of the church. It is cool to wander places that you’ve heard about, read about and dreamed about overall. I think the best part of going to the theater district at night was enjoying a dinner watching people rush to a show (they were late)!
Roughly every two weeks or so, I try to share a gallery of the last few pictures I’ve taken. They often come from different cameras, different sources and different viewpoints. I’ve been inspired by the many beautiful pictures of flowers shared by so many authors on the many sites I visit. It seems our desire for spring to arrive sprouted in many more pictures being shared. Each of the pictures I’ve seen. Well, they are remarkable. Majestic views of beautiful flowers, spring’s triumphant return. Over the past few days, I have stopped several times to snap a picture of a flower. There are some different flowers, bushes, trees and well in the ground flowers that were shared over the past few days.
There were a couple of pictures of cameras shared as well. I am a huge fan of cameras. I have been for many years. I remember my father carrying around his cameras wherever we went. I got my first camera from my grandfather. A Kodak 135 film camera. I still have that camera; it is one of the things my grandfather gave me that are dear to me. On our way home from Thailand many years ago, my parents gave my sister and I the self-contained Kodak 110 cameras and some film. I have many pictures taken with that camera. I took pictures from New Delhi, Kabul Afghanistan and one of the best photographs I ever took. Standing next to my father in Copenhagen Denmark taking a picture of the Little Mermaid Statue in the harbor. It is not a great picture; it was a great moment capturing a picture.
Finally, there are pictures shared that come from devices that I am not holding when the picture is taken. It offers a view of a place that may or may not be where I am. Remotely operated vehicles is a topic I am both interested in and watching. Those are the pictures from my camera over the past two weeks, or well actually over the past week. There is art in photography and artists with cameras. But if no one ever sees the pictures, then the beauty is lost forever. Share the pictures you take! Join the 365-day photo challenge, or the black and white picture challenge. Or just start a blog and share the picture you take. You never know when someone will see your pictures and realize, they have pictures to share as well!
I spent a little over a year in NYC on a project. During that time we were in two distinct places, Jersey City most of the time, and downtown Manhattan one to two days a week. The pictures today are from the office location in NYC, looking down over the New York Harbor and of course the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. When my father’s family came from Denmark to America, our family name was Andreesen. When my family left Ellis Island and began the trek towards Wisconsin, our family name was Andersen. Funny how spelling makes a difference. Had the Ellis Island person helping my long-ago family enter the US, picked Anderson as our last name, I wouldn’t have spent most of my life correcting the spelling of my last name.
(My wife, spent most of her life correcting the spelling of her last name, then decided to take my last name so that she can spend all of her life correcting the spelling of her last name). I am not condemning nor decrying the changes made at Ellis Island; they were swamped with lots of people trying to get into the US, I am glad they let my family in, and can live with the reality of a name change. It was strange to look down upon the Statue. You don’t realize in the pictures because of the height of the building I was in, and distance from the statue just how big the Statue of Liberty is. The project I was working on started in the fall and went all the way through the next year.
When the kid’s spring break arrived, my wife brought them out to NYC for a week. They spent days sightseeing (yes, my wife voted to go to every art museum in the city. I think they ended up going to 3 art museums total.) We made Newark our base of operations and drove over on a Sunday from Indiana to NYC. I choose Newark as it would be easier for me, and still close to the subway. Newark’s Penn Station is a really easy access Metro and Path station. Jersey City was only a couple of stops away. Now a couple of times I went with the kids and my wife all the way to the Bathtub (where the original World Trade Center used to be). They had a blast exploring NYC while I got to work!
My first trip to London many years ago was only in passing. I was going to the UK, just not going to London. I was going to a city north of London, Derby England to meet with a customer. I did, however, get to wander London on the subway and then take a train through the English Countryside to Derby. The total of all the pictures I took in Darby is shared with this post. It was a business trip, and by the time we met with the customer, which started early in the morning and then went out to dinner it was a dark to dark experience. We would go outside at lunch because we were meeting in the football stadium in Derby, the pitch as they call it in the UK.
That part was cool, meeting in a Luxury box with the customer. I’ve been in some Luxury boxes over the years; some are better than others. There is something about someone bringing you food while you are watching a sporting event that makes it that much more fun. In this case, they were bringing our food but we were talking about technology, we weren’t there to enjoy a sporting event. We did, one of the five days I was there, get to watch them mow the pitch. There was an incredible precision with which they mowed the pitch. It was mowed in an angular pattern as if trying to create a grain in the very grass of the field. When the mower was finished they laid the lines with chalk or paint I couldn’t tell.
We hit some fun restaurants while we were in Darby, but my favorite thing was visiting the pubs. English and Irish pubs are very different than American Bars. There is a more open and friendly environment in the pub setting. Plus I was introduced to Father Mike’s Stout. By Stout, they meant you had to be stout to drink Father Mike’s, it had 14.9% alcohol by volume. Father Mike’s would knock ya down if you weren’t careful. Made you wonder about the good Father. The Pub was around the corner from our hotel, well the first one was, so we walked to the pub that first night. The air was cool and crisp, and overall the experience of wandering the English countryside at night was one I will never forget.