1. Group in front of Tower of London with Tower Bridge in background.
2. Kelsey beside giant suit of armour in the Tower of London.
3. Trudi looking the wrong way at the Houses of Parliament, featuring Big Ben.
4. Girls at fountain in Trafalgar Square - Mrs. Baker with some of her many purchases. Sorry Chris, I hope you aren't broke after this trip...
5. Ethan takes over as safety director on the Chunnel vehicle transport with his fancy new vest.
As seems to be a ritual on my trips, one room of kids did not wake up and completely missed breakfast after our first sleep in Europe (see L.B. and S.F. circa 2006). Luckily, these two unnamed boys apparently slept fully clothed and didn’t even open their suitcases – from them waking up (after I kicked the door several times) to getting on the bus took maybe 3 minutes. Don't worry, we fed them on the bus.
Our first stop was the Tower of London. We arrived before opening time so got to wander around outside and admire the tower bridge as well. Another group of 120 students from my former high school, Argyle in North Van, arrived at the same time as us and I got to find out that I’m now so old that not one of my teachers from 1980-85 is still working. Enough about me…
We entered the Tower and Jackie quickly took over as our guide, having visited a couple years ago. She led us to the crown jewels, where we saw diamond encrusted swords, crowns, and a gold punch bowl that weighs 500 pounds and whose ladle scoops out 1 ½ litres at a time for very thirsty kings and queens. We then self guided our way through other parts of the 18 acre Tower grounds because the grumpy old Yeoman Warder (beefeater) refused to let us join one of their tours because they “don’t guide school groups”. We had a good visit anyway.
Rens manouevered us through London traffic to drop us at the Houses of Parliament, where we got to see the north tower, commonly called Big Ben, and walk over to Westminster Abbey to see the first of many flying buttresses on the trip. Lunch and a bit of shopping took place under the watchful, single eye of Lord Nelson, standing guard over Trafalgar square on the top of the tallest Corinthian column in the world.
On the way to Dover to catch the chunnel vehicle transport train, we hit a major detour in the highway and missed our reservation. Our wait was a couple hours, but we used the time to get dinner and spend the last of our pounds in the Euro tunnel mall. The kids had their first experience meeting other kids (and practicing their French) on the transport under the channel. For a guide who has never even been to London, I think the first stop on our tour was a success, and the Europe 2008ers are looking forward to bragging to the 2007, 2006, 2005, etc. about being the only LFMSS group to make it to the UK. And the weather, by the way, was great!