It’s hard to believe we arrived in London exactly one week ago. The days have gone by so fast, and it has felt quite natural settling in. Yes, the jet-lag did a number on our bodies the first few days–especially since it doesn’t get dark until about 10:00pm and the birds start chirping around 4:00am– but it seems to have leveled out. Zach was actually asleep by 9:15pm last night and woke up at 7:30am this morning–the most “normal” schedule he’s had since we arrived.
Here some highlights from this week:
Mon: Ray started his first day of work and his daily commute down to the U.S. Embassy on Monday. We have the “hopper” bus that makes the rounds in our neighborhood every 12 minutes. It literally stops right in front of our house — you just wave to the moving red target, and he’s there at your doorstep. Now, the hopper bus isn’t his only mode of transportation to get down to the Embassy. Once the “H2” scoops him up, he rides it over to the “underground”, (London’s version of what we call the “Metro” in DC or the “T” in Boston.) From the Golder’s Green underground station (which is actually the first above-ground part of the route), the train ride is approx 34 minutes. After a few trial runs on Mon. and Tues., Ray has come up with a reliable 55 min door to door commute route down to Grovesner Square in Central London. Our post address is considered “North London”. (Let’s re-visit the commute topic once the Olympics begin in several weeks…or shall we??!) Our dear friend, Selina, came out to our house to visit Zach and I during the day on Monday. Selina and Paul are our wonderful friends who we met back in 2001 when we were posted in Malta. Through the years, we have closely kept in touch, meeting them in Florida on vacation and they even came from London to visit us in Massachusetts. It was so nice to see her again (which we hope to be doing a lot of!) We walked down to a local cafe, had lunch and caught up on overdue gossip 😉 Our Albanian waiter at the cafe spent a large chunk of our outing chatting us up and informing me that his brother owns two Domino’s pizza franchises in Allentown, PA and how much he would like to go live there too. Selina and I thought it was best that the next time I go back, I come up with a very dull boring job for which Ray and I have moved here–Ray is an auditor for city-wide dry cleaners! Yeah, I’m fairly confident that’ll keep him off my back for any “visa” requests for sure 🙂
Wednesday: Yes, I can confidently say that this was the most “interesting” Fourth of July we’ve ever observed. Celebrating America’s Independence from the British in the U.K. on the 4th was “not really” an explosion of fireworks this year. Mind you, we had an eventful day visiting the British Museum and exploring the large and interesting Ancient Egyptian section, along with the famed Rosetta stone, and the Greek Parthenon sculpture (also referred to as Elgin’s marbles, the Greeks accused the British of liberating these in the 1700’s and never returning them) — but all in all, we were the quiet Americans silently snickering to Brits who walked by, “You don’t own us anymore.” 😉 No fireworks displays in the rainy sky’s tonight, but an explosion of excitement that we are Americans celebrating our freedom and living in and exploring this fantastic city that we currently call home.
Thursday: Zach and I met Ray at the embassy today for the new employee/family briefing in the downstairs auditorium. WOW, this embassy is ginormous and secured beyond belief. One side of Grosvenor Square in front of the building is closed to public access by car, and armed roadblocks are stationed outside the building. A security station complete with heavy bulletproof doors sits outside the main building. We spent the majority of the morning listening to safety briefings, Ray brought us up to his office to meet his colleagues and boss, I went to get my embassy badge, Zach and I stopped by the post office (which is a working U.S. Post Office overseas) where we can receive and send mail at U.S. prices 🙂 and we popped by the Embassy eatery for a drink — ok, it was just water for now, but they DO serve medicinal spirits 🙂 Afterwards, Ray took us to a local cafe for lunch and then Zach and I met up with Selina again (Yay, twice in one week!) who works directly across Grovsenor square at the Canadian High Commission. We hung out in the park with her for her lunch break, and because it was such a beautiful sunny day, Zach and I stayed an additional two hours on the green, where he attempted to climb a tree, visited the 9/11 fountain memorial, and took a nap right there on the grass in the warm sun.
Friday: It’s Friday! We’ve officially been here one week and are settling in quite nicely. Ray has unfortunately lost his voice (shall we blame it on the cold, damp weather?) That said, he “muddled along” and has been speaking in a whisper. On a more historical note, Ray had a meeting today at the Ministry of Defense in the Old Imperial War Room where much of WWII was strategized (Churchill met here daily for updates). He tried to sit towards the center of the table where Churchill would have sat. He hopes to make it over to the other MOD building at some point — it is built on top of one of Henry VIII’s palace and has a fully intact wine cellar in the basement from the Tudlor period. It’s a good day to celebrate the end of the week. We popped by our friends Kate and Simon’s house for some gin and tonic’s (“It’s gin-o-clock,” she says. “Come over for a drink!” and enjoyed another Friday evening (our second since we arrived) laughing it up with our Australian/British friends. Happy Weekend, everybody.