London: June, 1979 (part one) -- 06/26/04

So... after hours of joyful partying, we had to leave our wedding celebration so Nancy's brother Walter could drive us to JFK airport to catch our 8pm flight to London. (No, I don't actually remember the flight time -- it was probably 8:16 or something like that -- but around eight o'clock is popular time for many airlines to schedule flights to England as it gets them to Heathrow shortly after seven in the morning London time.) Big British Airways 747. California Suite was the in-flight movie. Long flight, arrive jet-lagged with no sleep. I remember feeling disoriented, very aware of having traveled thousands of miles, of being in another country.

We had booked a package: airfare, hotel, tickets to some plays, and a shuttle bus to our hotel. We found our bus and rode for days and days around London -- well, that's what it felt like -- our hotel must have been the very last one on the list of stops. Our rooms were at the The President Hotel, near Russell Square. (Our room was one of the ones with that triangular bay window feature; we're the second from the top.)

We arrived shortly after eleven a.m. -- our rooms wouldn't be ready until around one, so we waited in a television lounge, probably waited all of ten or fifteen minutes before falling asleep to be awakened an hour or so later to be told our room was ready.

(Back in 1979 they were still using physical keys which you were supposed to leave with the concierge when you went out and pick up when you returned to the hotel after your outing.)

Our room overlooked a flower garden courtyard.
The picture to the left is looking down from our room; the picture below that was taken in the courtyard. One of the things that struck us most about London was how there seemed to be flowers everywhere... little gardens, planters, window boxes.

Yes, these colors have not done well over the past quarter century. They will be very muddy by our 50th anniversary.*
We liked our hotel -- it wasn't luxurious but it was comfortable. At night we would order a pot of tea from room service and watch one of the three television channels available in London at the time (which we found mind-boggling since the area where we lived, with a population less than one percent of the London area, had four local channels, at least one of which broadcast 24 hours a day where London TV stopped shortly past midnight -- in the same way that the Underground service stopped).
In recent years, making business trips to London, I have always stayed at the Marriott Regents Park -- but I still have fond memories of the President Hotel. In fact, one time a few years ago, I took the Underground to Russell Square Station (yes, I'm afraid we're always going to think of that as being "our" station) and stopped in at the President to see if I could switch hotels but they were all booked up.

Well, we did all of the tourist stuff -- took a sight-seeing tour on a double-decker bus, took a boat tour on the Thames, went to the British Museum and the Tate Gallery and the National Gallery, etc. I'm thinking of putting some of those pictures in an entry in a few days. In the meanwhile, here are two pictures on our Thames boat tour.
* Those garden pictures and the river pictures are no longer as muddy as they had been when I first posted them thanks to the efforts of Liz McCabe who Photoshopped them (and also told me how to do it myself).

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