Sunday, May 17, 2009

Tea Time (Just Don't Ask for it Iced!)

For several years now my morning caffeine of choice is iced tea. I have never liked the taste of coffee (although I am partial to flavored lattes - the milk and flavoring kill the coffee taste!) and I stopped drinking soda when I was in college. If I don't have enough tea in the morning, I get terrible "caffeine headaches that make super grumpy - not what you want on vacati. When I travel, if I'm not sure there is a coffee shop in the hotel where I can get my morning fix I often take some tea bags with me and make my own. I started to pack some for London and then realized that the British are big on tea, so it shouldn't be a problem and I unpacked them. Wrong. Big mistake.

Since we are Hilton VIP members, breakfast was included with our room. The first morning we sat down and when asked what I wanted to drink, I said, "do you have iced tea?". The nice young man who waited on us gave me the deer-in-the-headlights look so I asked for some tea and a glass of ice. Problem solved.

Not so fast. Trying to give me what I wanted, the nice young man had put a tea bag in a glass of ice water. Now unless you have the special Lipton Cold Brew bags (which I love and which do not work in hot water, btw), tea does not brew in cold water. My glass of "tea" looked more like dirty river water with lemon. Hmmmm. After breakfast I ran over to the coffee shop across the street. No iced tea either, but at least they had iced lattes. Headache averted!

The next morning at breakfast, the same nice young man was prepared and brought me a pot of tea in which he had placed ice cubes and an empty glass. By the third day, the glass had ice. Now I was set. Except that the fourth day was the nice young man's day off. Our server on the fourth day gave me the same confused look when I asked for a pot of tea with some ice cubes in it and a glass. I think she must have put in a few since the tea was lukewarm rather than hot. I let the request for the glass go and drank it from a tea cup.

Our last night was spent in Cardiff, Wales at a Barcelo Hotel and breakfast was also included in the room. I didn't even ask - I drank my tea hot.


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Why "Mind the Gap"?

The first day we rode on the Tube in London, at each stop a friendly recording asked riders to "please, mind the gap". We were a little puzzled at first but then realized they were referring to the gap between the edge of the platform and the edge of the car. I guess it would be a bad thing to get your foot caught in there! For some reason, every time we heard that recorded message we had to smile and the phrase just stuck in our heads.

Our trip was planned rather hastily due to short term cheap airfare on British Airways (on a non-stop flight from Denver), Hilton hotel points, and the ability to fit it in between a work commitment I had and concert tickets to see the Eagles in Salt Lake City over mother's day weekend. I also really wanted to see some of the special exhibits going on this year to celebrate Henry VIII's accession to the throne.

If British Airways flew around the United States, they would be our airline of choice: a hot meal (with salad and desert), free alcoholic drinks, free movies/TV,individual blankets, pillows and a little care package that included a sleep mask, toothbrush/toothpaste and fuzzy socks. Granted, they might not provide all of this on shorter flights, but it all made our 9 hour flight much more comfortable.

We loved the Tube. Easy to find, easy to navigate, quick and efficient (unlike the train system which will be a story for another day!). Although I can see how it might be intimidating at first, I think since we were familiar with the Metro in Washington DC, we found it pretty easy. We also found the people of London to be extraordinarily friendly and helpful. I will have to admit to being a little surprised by that - I think we were expecting a stuffier demeanor and let's face it, American's aren't necessarily that popular right now. But, no worries there. We owe a big thank you to several anonymous Londoners and especially to an older couple on what we thought was the train to Hampton Court.

In the coming days we will be posting some pictures and stories of our adventures. We hope you enjoy them! Comments are always welcome.



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