Anywhere in London with the name ‘Circus’ attached to it should be feared!

After an excruciatingly long day and night, mom and I woke up around 9:00 am London time. We both felt more rested and a little more ‘human’ than the previous day. We decided to hell with the whole vacation planning thing and just go with the flow and see what we could rather than continue with my rigorous ‘plan’ as it was CLEARLY not going anywhere near ‘as planned’.

The London Eye, take II
Keep in mind we still have no TV and no internet….the hotel room TV was broken (eventually they did fix it though). We had no idea what the weather would be like (again) so judging from the view of our hotel it would appear that it was going to be sunny since there were like no clouds in the sky.
I put on the new linen sundress I bought in Paris the day before and we went out to find breakfast. Outside, it was mildly cool but not COLD (roughly 50 degrees) so I thought it would warm up as the day went on and decided not to take a jacket or sweater.
We found a little café just around the corner from our hotel and had the most amazing breakfast (eggs, toast, coffee, cereal, and ham/bacon) for 10 pounds each (roughly $12 USD each). However when the bill came we realized we didn’t have enough cash and they only took cash, no credit cards.
Mom volunteered to go in search of an ATM. Big mistake, after 40 minutes I was ready to send a search party! She finally came back with cash but she had to walk a few blocks to find an ATM. We paid and decided to pick up our London day passes from the British Tourist center.
Tower Bridge from the Thames
About a month before our trip we bought these passes so we would not have to stand in line at the tourist attractions…plus the day pass included lots of extras, like free water travel all day, more free public transit etc. which was worth the $65 USD a piece price tag.
However by now it’s about 11:00 and getting a little late in the day to begin ‘touring’ however we didn’t want the money to go to waste so we decided to go get the passes from the tourist center thinking this would be easily accomplished.
I was already feeling like this day would be a MAJOR improvement from the day before so we started walking to the Tube. As we walked to the Tube, dark thunder clouds move in and it starts raining and the temp drops like 10 degrees. Not going back to our hotel to grab a jacket was a HUGE mistake on my part….mom on the other hand was smart and layered her wardrobe plus brought a scarf.
Piccadilly ‘Sanyo” sign, in my opinion the one in
Times Square is WAY better!
We get to the Tube and catch the District line to the next stop where we would catch the Piccadilly line and exit at Piccadilly Circus, I should have known this was a bad idea simply from the ‘Circus’ in the title! Keep in mind the 2012 Olympics are happening in London so everything is undergoing a MAJOR facelift and renovations, especially in the Piccadilly area.
Don’t ask me why a huge ‘Sanyo’ sign is a major icon in London but apparently it is.
Anyway as we are riding the District line we hear this announcement that the Piccadilly line is closed at the Piccadilly stop due to flooding. WTF?!!? It had only been raining for 10 minutes and Piccadilly is nowhere NEAR the Thames….never mind that Westminster Pier which IS right next to the river was fully operational!
Oh and Piccadilly Circus was the only Tube stop experiencing a closer….of course the only stop in all of London that mom and I needed…..go figure!
We had to get off a stop early and double back to Piccadilly Circus which again, the peds situation was not pretty! The ‘Circus’ itself is an intersection for five streets plus a roundabout so it’s nuts. It took us about an hour to find the British Tourist Center after we double backed to the Circus…..note to the London tourist board…..create better sign-age between now and the Olympics because NO ONE will EVER find the ‘tourist’ center in that God awful nightmare you call a ‘Circus’!
Mom laughing about my fall
Mom really wanted to see the Tower of London and the Crown Jewels so we decided to go there first. With passes in hand and soaking wet we boarded a bus back to Westminster Pier. We were finally dry by the time we reached Westminster and it had stopped raining….but the wind was picking up, thank God I didn’t blow dry my hair is all I can say!
After getting off the bus mom and I decided we could no longer do public transit and opted for the water ways transit. Sam and I did the Thames ‘cruise’ from the Tower down to Westminster Pier when we were there (about 30 minutes) which was really cool and very pretty. Since it was part of our passes we decided this was the best option….a relaxing tour.
We very carefully walk down the stairs to the ticket booth. I just finished commenting to mom that I was very proud of myself for not falling on my face and being extra careful on the cobblestone walkways. We get the tickets and I went to put my wallet back in my purse when I realize that I can’t very well juggle my purse, camera bag, the giant camera itself hanging around my neck, the tickets, and manage not to fall on uneven pavement so I told mom I was going to grab a seat on the bench a whole 10 feet away and regroup.
Traitor’s Gate at high tide, people came here to die and now
people come there to toss coin in for good luck…a litle ironic don’t you think??
All of a sudden this huge gust of wind comes and blows my hair in my face and I can’t see a damn thing. I lost my balance on an uneven, slippery cobblestone and went tumbling head first….right on my face right in front of the bench….and I gave everyone a ‘free showing’ since I again was wearing a dress.
Luckily my $1500.00 camera (not including lens) broke my fall. Everyone around me was laughing (including my mom) but no one really offered any help or even asked if I was ok. Finally mom gets to me and helps me up and we sit on the bench to survey the damage. I knew it was only a matter of time before something went ‘medically’ wrong.
Why I needed sunglasses in the rain
I will never know!!!
I’m on a blood thinner (my ‘rat poison’ as I affectionately refer to it) due to a genetic condition that makes my blood clot all the time–think the exact opposite of hemophilia–I take the blood thinner to keep my blood for forming a clot and casing instant death. So any kind of fall or bump could cause massive internal bleeding and severe bruising while I’m on the rat poison. About a year and a half ago some of you might remember the ten inch bruise I had on my backside after falling down the stairs at work….I subsequently ended up in the hospital from said bruise to stop the bleeding and stop the bruise from getting any larger.
My life is lived day to day not knowing if I will ‘A’ keel over from a blood clot or ‘B’ die from a fall because of the treatment preventing the clot in the first place! So yes falling is a very real fear for me…most people worry about a twisted ankle or broken bone….I get to worry about internal bleeding which will not make itself known until I’m in the grave!
So naturally the first thing I worried about was my camera…..to hell with the rat poison and bleeding! Luckily my camera and lens were in one piece and working fine but my knees and hands….well they didn’t look too good, though I didn’t run my tights that I was wearing (I was impressed with that fact alone). So after making sure my camera was ok and I surprisingly had sustained little damage to my body considering what it could have been, I started crying and laughing (as did mom)…..at least we could laugh about it.
Mom’s stylish poncho/ rain slicker
More like ‘hefty’ if you ask me LOL but unlike

me, she was dry!!! Damn her LOL
We got on the boat which was an open top. The cruise looked like it was going to be good when all of a sudden the wind blew in another rain shower which soaked us through on the boat and there was nowhere to hide since it was an open top. Then the wind picked up….my teeth were chattering like crazy and my hair was sopping wet. So we got off the boat and now, not only was I having to navigate on uneven pavement but now uneven WET pavement….what could be better!
People were running me over because I was walking so slow…..mom felt bad for me because I looked like a drowned cat walking like a 90 year old woman in the rain trying not to fall again. So mom gave me her scarf so I could at least keep my hair out of my eyes (I didn’t bring any hair ties like an idiot). So I wrapped the black scarf around my head and decided this was a HUGE improvement and wondered why I didn’t think if this earlier!
We got into the Tower and mom decided she wanted to buy a rain ‘slicker’ at the little gift shop by the entry. When she said slicker I was thinking jacket……NOT, I repeat NOT a poncho…not even a poncho, it was more like a trash bag with arms!
By this point I didn’t really care since I didn’t want her to take the scarf back. As soon as we got into the first room of the Tower the rain stopped and the sun came out….go figure. However I was becoming really attached to the head scarf wrap idea, plus rain storms pretty much comes out of nowhere so I decided it was better to leave it on and be prepared rather than not.
Just call me princess Jasmin from
now on, I have seen the light of Islam
All of a sudden I realized that people were pretty much avoiding me and NOT all up in my space….the first time in five days! As I was pondering this new phenomenon I noticed quite a few Muslim women walking around in a full burqa and many others who just wore the veils not full Taliban gear.
Suddenly it was clear….I realized WHY everyone avoided me. I looked like some Taliban princess.  I decided my new strategy for crowd control and personal space issues was to wear the head scarf for the rest of our trip…what could be better, no hair to mess with and everyone stays at least 10 feet away for fear of life and bomb!
On a side note….what the US government says is true, the Taliban has been run out of Afghanistan because all the Taliban people are now in London! I am NOT kidding you….I literally felt like I was in Afghanistan or something because there were so many women in full on burqas…black head to toe, eyes only robes! It was actually disturbing on many levels and kind of scary to be perfectly honest. I have studied near east religions and am completely understanding of the veil head coverings etc. however the burqa is something I will never understand mostly because it is often used as a political statement of religious extremism such as the Taliban so it was actually pretty unnerving to see that many women all over the city, on the buses, Tubes, walking and shopping in these burqas….even the singular veils were a little scary after awhile.
Lines and rain at the entrance to
the Tower
Anyway, so after converting to Islam mom and I wandered the Tower and looked at all the cool things and took lots of pictures. We saw where Anne Boleyn (one of my fav queens, I did a whole paper on her for my Women in History class…I love her!!) got her head chopped off, and we saw Traitors Gate, and of course all the family jewels.
After going though the Tower and getting our diamond/history fix we decided to go back to the boat and see if we could get to Westminster Abbey before it closed (since it was now like 4:00). As we walked back to the boat…..again it started raining cats and dogs. This time we were inside a covered boat and made it to Westminster Pier without incident. At the Abby we were able to catch the last tour of the day (thank GOD something went right!).
Mommy was tired and soaked while we waited
for the boat! Poor mommy!!
I remember so vividly watching Princess Diana’s funeral there in 1997 and being completely blown away with its beauty. It was a really special moment for me to share with my mom. The Abbey was AMAZING, we saw the tombs of Queen Elizabeth I, Mary Stewart, and other royals like Edward the Confessor. Mom cried through the Abby and was the last one to leave at 6:45 that night!
We saw Poets Corner which for me was the coolest. It was weird to be surrounded by all these great authors in one area and see what’s written on their tombstones. I think the inscription that touched me most was on the Bronte Sisters memorial: “With the strength to endure”, a line from one of Emily Bronte’s poems. I am a huge Wuthering Heights fan and of course Jane Austen so it was really a special moment for me to just sit there and look around at all the names of authors I recognized from my literature classes….and yes I almost cried….almost.
So we made it through Westminster  and ran over to catch our rescheduled dusk flight on the Eye. I had bought special ‘first class’ tickets so for ONCE we didn’t have to wait in line! We got on the pod and as luck would have it a group of children got on with us. So the Eye is a 45 minute ‘flight’ after ten minutes all the children were running wild in the pod and screaming about wanting food and a bathroom.
Really?!?!!?!?
Mom and I in front of Westminster Abbey
The next thing we know a little boy starts peeing all over the floor right next to me. The mom just goes ahead and lets him do that….really?!?!?! Not that she could do anything about it but still……really?!?!?!
At least she wiped it up but the pod smelled like pee for the next half hour or so. I got some really great pics from the Eye….honestly there is no place in London that could be better for pics than the eye….it was BEAUTIFUL, especially at dusk. That is the time to go without question….minus the peeing child.
View from the Eye
When the Eye was over were really really hungry and decided to eat at a random pub by Westminster before braving the Tube back to the hotel. By now it’s like 8:00 and the pub waiter gave us a menu that said (in big letters) NO LUNCH PAST 4:00….so we were clearly WAY past lunch so mom and I ordered something off the dinner menu…the waiter yelled at us and said it was lunch time. Without another word he left us.
He said  the same thing to the couple next to us who were Brits and we all four looked at each other like WTF?!?!?! Isn’t it dinner time???? Mom and I felt better because we thought maybe in London since they do everything else backward why NOT have dinner mean lunch and lunch mean dinner?!!?
Yep this is pretty much what I did every night…planned and planned
for days and adventures that never happened LOL
You can also faintly see my bruise forming on my rigt knee
We had some good beer (though it was strong and I was a little tipsy after 1) and good pub food-fish and chips! After eating we took the Tube back to the hotel without incident and began planning our next big adventure and reexamine the aftermath of my gnarly tumble.
My knee, surprisingly, was not banged up too bad….bruised but not as bad as it could have been. I would probably sooner have die from the pneumonia than the fall. Don’t get me wrong, parts of this day were a little tedious but now with my newly found religion I am sure things will begin looking better over the next couple of days…..and praise be to Allah!
Tower Bridge from inside the boat
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