Wednesday, July 7, 1993

1993 Hungary: London (7/5/1993)

Tuesday, July 6, 1993
Up at 7:30 to iron, pack, and shower. We assumed we could change Forints into English pounds, but learned it was hard to get rid of Hungarian “soft” currency, which is not wanted in the West. So we hopped on a tram to the Vigadó in hopes of seeing the market with leather goods, but not open today. Took the tram back, and let Brynne use a playground while Kent went to buy some of the local juice boxes to take back as souvenirs for kids in the neighborhood. Back to the Ls’ apartment to await the minibus to the airport, due between 12:20-12:30. We left our Forints with the Ls, except for what we needed to pay the minibus driver. We saw the bus on the street at 12:25 and went down on the lift with Brynne in charge of pushing buttons. Piled in the minibus and had our last view of Budapest on the way to the airport.
Last view of Budapest (Royal Palace)
Arrived at Ferihegy 1 at about 13:00, checked in, went through passport control and the security check by 13:15! Wandered through the duty-free shops and at 14:15 we were called to board. It was noted that we had two boarding passes for me and none for Brynne. An intercom message, and the correct pass arrived. Waited in another area, then took a bus according to row number. Driven out to the plane and climbed steps to board. Kent votes for the British Airways uniforms as the worst. Took off on time at about 14:30. Beverages and a lunch of three-four tortellini, a couple slices of ham, paté and pepperoni, a little coleslaw, an olive and a tomato wedge on lettuce, crackers, huge pat of butter and cream cheese, and a roll. Some creamy cake for dessert. Arrived at London Heathrow just ahead of the scheduled local time of 15:55. Followed the sign to arrivals, on long moving sidewalks, through the passport check, past the baggage reclaim area, and through the nothing-to-declare aisle.
Then we followed signs to the hotel courtesy bus and waited 10 minutes. There were dozens of hotel and car rental buses. The Sheraton Skyline came and went on the winding, looping hotel route, and then our Sheraton Heathrow, which was a low concrete building with red décor in the lobby. Checked in with our reservations, and took the elevator to the 2nd floor, which really was the 2nd floor! The room had a queen bed, with a cot to come later. Nice tiled bath.
Kent and Brynne at the Sheraton Heathrow
We learned a bus was leaving for the center of London at 17:05 and went to check it out. I ended up running back to the room for the last roll of film, and made it back in time to take the courtesy bus into London, a one-hour trip. We hit some traffic, passing small brick duplexes before it became more built up after reaching the highway. Large population from India. In London we passed huge museums. Here we thought Budapest was a large city! London is monstrous, but neat and clean. Drove around Piccadilly Circus and were dropped off at Pall Mall. Walked back and over towards a park with trailers that had actors getting make-up. Ended up in Trafalgar Square!
Trafalgar Square
Went down Whitehall, passed Whitehall where the Horse Guards sans horses stomped out.
Continued to Downing Street, where there was a wrought-iron fence across the street itself where the Prime Minister (John Major) resides. Continued down Whitehall for a view of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben Tower.
Houses of Parliament
Tower of Big Ben
Kent and Brynne at a telephone booth
Brynne was pointing out all the big black taxis and the red double deck buses. Crossed over to the front of Westminster Abbey, being cautious about which way to look for oncoming traffic.
Westminster Abbey
Through some side streets to St James Park. Brynne found a playground for a bit of a respite.
St James Park respite for Kent as well?
Went around the lake to Victoria Circle in front of Buckingham Palace.
Victoria Circle
Looked through the wrought-iron gates at the far-away palace guards.
Buckingham Palace Gates
Walked through Green Park, with a few soccer matches in progress, and many improvised softball games, using sports bags as bases. The hitters were awful, and the pitchers were funny, mimicking cricket. We don’t know the rules they were following, but they would run on strikes, and score runs in the middle of someone’s at-bat. Brynne picked mini-daisies off the lawn.
Picadilly Circus
Back at Piccadilly Circus, we looked for a place to eat, knowing we were limited by how many English pounds we had. Ended up at Wendy’s where the Super Value menu was the same; 0.99 for each item! We had a chicken sandwich, classic burger, fries, two Cokes, kid’s meal burger, fries, and milk, with two prizes for nearly 8£/about $12-14. After eating we headed to the London Underground, Piccadilly Line. Went to the ticket window for two tickets to Heathrow at 2 pounds 80/adult and Brynne free. The Underground came out of the ground for good stretches, and went very fast for some stretches. Street musicians came into the car to perform. Brynne was falling asleep. We got off at the last stop at Heathrow Airport, and followed signs to Terminal 2. Went to wait for our hotel courtesy bus, and finally back to the hotel. Good showers, a little telly, and to bed.
Bubble bath for Brynne at the Sheraton Heathrow
Really bubbly bath
Bubble bath beard
Brynne fell asleep in the cot at 22:30, which was 23:30 Hungarian time.

Wednesday, July 7, 1993
View from our Sheraton Heathrow room
Up at 7:15 and down to the hotel Garden Restaurant for breakfast. Charged the 14£10 to our hotel bill, plus tip. Brynne had two scrambled eggs, two pork sausages, apple juice and hot chocolate. I had the Continental breakfast (shared with all) of six slices of toast, basket of two croissants, two rolls, two Danish, jams and butter, and tomato juice and hot chocolate. Kent had yoghurt with fruit and coffee. When we checked out, we put a 10£ note towards the bill, and charged the rest to Visa. At 9:05 we took the shuttle bus to the airport and Terminal 3.
Heathrow Airport Beefeater Billboard plus
Short line to check-in for the flight although first there was a security interview. Went out to the gates through x-ray, where the backpack was being searched. At passport control, I remembered I had left my waist pack due to being distracted by the backpack search. Ran back to get it. Then in passport control, Kent’s passport apparently was not stamped upon entry, but they let him out! Did some window shopping and bought Brynne a matchbox London taxi, and a replacement Jurassic Park paperback book, since I had left the other book on the last British Airways plane. Forty-five minutes before flight time, they announced the gate, where they were boarding buses by row number to take us to the plane. We boarded and left on time. Served peanuts and beverages, and then our vegetarian lunches of pasta with marinara sauce on the side, salad, Wasa crackers and cheese, and a roll, with water. Brynne had a regular meal with chicken, corn pancakes, salad, chocolate chip cookies, and water. She ended up eating some of my pasta. Napped. Saw the movie “Untamed Hearts.” Snack of a corn salsa pita, grapes and a dessert. Brynne had a turkey sandwich, but was not hungry. Flight time was 6 hours and 20 minutes, and we arrived just before 13:00 at Logan Airport. On time according to the airlines, but an hour early according to our itinerary! We were off the plane quickly, through passport control, no bags to pick up, nothing to declare and waved through and out to find the Bonanza bus stop. We had plenty of time before the 13:30 bus. It was sweltering hot, in the high 90s and very humid in Boston. Glad for the air-conditioned bus ride to Providence. We arrived at the bus station about 14:30 and got the third and last taxi waiting there. He took the highway route to our house, costing $18.90, and we gave the driver $22. Home at 15:00, and the house was cool inside until we let in the hot air! Unpacked. We put the window air conditioner in Brynne’s room and we all slept in her room that night.
The end.

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