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Christmas in London

February 11, 2016

Where are the Alex’s for Christmas?  Germany? Back in the States? Nope! Jolly old England!  Confused? Yeah, so are we.  But first, some important business back in Dresden!

We really couldn’t stand to have an empty corner in our apartment in the Christmas season, so even though we weren’t even going to be in Dresden for Christmas, I went out and procured a tree and all the requisite trimmings to make it festive.  Of course, I didn’t want to bother buying a stand, so I made it a truly German Christmas tree by sticking it in my trusty beer carrier!  Turns out I had picked the perfect size trunk just the same size as a beer bottle, what luck!

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So with that taken care of, we flew off to England!  Why?  Well, everyone we knew in Dresden was going to be busy with family and we didn’t want to be all alone with nobody to enjoy the holiday with.  After a bit of thinking, we settled on England, hoping that the pubs would be warm, friendly and filled with happy brits for us to fall in with.  As it turns out we made quite the right decision!

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We landed in London and took a day and a half to see the sights in some rather British weather.  The first day, we wandered around the museum area where we saw an amazing gem and mineral collections at the Natural History Museum and  a great exhibit on Shackleton’s voyage at the Royal Geographic Society Museum.

Our next stop was the famous Harrod’s department store.

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Inside was a bit of a mad house as everyone was getting ready for christmas parties and doing last minute christmas shopping.  But soon we located the food stands and were amazed.  This place makes Whole Foods look like a Soviet grocery store in the dead of winter.   There were meat displays of beef costing hundreds of dollars a pound, an entire counter just for caviar, chocolates and sweets had their own room!  Cheeses, meats, baked goods, exotic fresh fruit that looked as if it must have been (and probably was) air freighted overnight from southeast Asia.  It was quite the sight to behold.

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We stocked up on snacks and headed to our room for a well-deserved hot bath.

The next morning we stopped by to say hello to the Queen, but for some reason they wouldn’t let us in!  A bit rude really.

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So on we went to Big Ben!

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Unfortunately it really started to rain and it was at this moment that my umbrella decided it didn’t like being an umbrella anymore.

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We soldiered on anyway and found ourselves, after a short tube ride, at the Tower Bridge.

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There would have been more exploring and pictures… but with no umbrella and quite a bit of rain we decided to head for our hotel where we had an extremely luxurious – and very British – afternoon tea.

Dessert came wrapped up like a Christmas present and with glasses of champagne that had me ready for bed, rather than ready to head out.

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But head out of the city we must, for we had to get to the small town of Goring on Thames that night.  It was Christmas Eve and time to sit in a pub and make new friends!

Amazingly, we made it to Goring (thanks to Alexandra’s great driving) with only a few instances of driving on the wrong side of the road.  But, when we arrived, we were greeted by a most unusual sight.

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What was happening? Well, in the small town of Goring on Christmas eve, there is a wonderful and very special event.  At about 7pm, five thousand or so people congregate for a torchlight procession through the town and across the River Thames to a small park.  There, they sing carols for about an hour.  It is a really beautiful sight that is sadly impossible to capture on camera.

Afterwards everyone heads to the pubs and enjoys some well deserved pints!  Within a few minutes of showing up at the pub, we were chatting happily with a young couple, who invited us along to the next pub on their schedule, where we spent the rest of the evening drinking and chatting and shouting about every imaginable topic.

Christmas day was a quiet one for us.  We made a small feast in our hotel room of fancy cheeses, crackers, chocolates, and scones, we had a lovely drive through the countryside until the rain drove us back into our hotel room, and we spent some time chatting with our families on the phone.

The day after Christmas, we were invited by our friends (who now live in the L.A. area, but were visiting family near London for Christmas) to their family’s Boxing Day celebration.  Even though we only knew a few of the other guests, it felt like being with family for the day.  And the best part: we got to learn first hand what all those funny-sounding British dishes are; for example, Christmas pudding, plum pudding, bubble and squeak…  Yum!

 

 

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