Thanksgiving in London, Fall 2007

I was a computer nerd in high school, and zoned out whenever I went to Western Civilization class. In college, however, a dynamic, team-taught Humanities course ignited a love of history that still burns strong in me today. And one of the areas of history that has most fascinated me is that of Britain. The chaos of succession after Henry VIIIís death... the intrigue of Elizabeth Iís court... the drama of Revolution and the beheading of Charles I... there is no shortage of interesting stories in the annals of British history.

Pity that it took me so long to finally make it to London. But the historical sights did not disappoint. For me, historical sightseeing takes on even greater meaning when I can make a direct connection between the spot on which Iím standing and some great historical event. At the Tower of London, for example, I found it amazing to stand at the site where Lady Jane Grey and Anne Boleyn (among others) met the executionerís axe. In Westminster Abbey, I saw the tomb of Queen Bess herself (as well as that of Isaac Newton, Tennyson and many others). And, at The Old Mitre and Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese pubs, I sipped a pint where Brits (Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle among them) have been drinking for nearly 500 years.

As is usually the case, though, itís people that make travel so much fun. In this case, it was Cassieís brother and sister-in-law, Mike and Michele, who invited us to spend the Thanksgiving holiday at their flat in Islington. Between Micheleís delicious cooking and Mikeís expert pub-crawl guidance, they showed us a great time. Midway through our stay, we hopped a train at Waterloo Station and traveled about an hour south of London, to the town of Staines on the Thames. There, Mike and Michele took us to a special tasting of South African wines. Though we were still feeling the after-effects of our pub crawl the previous evening, we managed to try 46 different wines!

When I visited Paris and Rome in 2001, I felt Iíd barely scratched the surfaces of both cities. I feel the same about London, though I packed in as much as I could into the five days we were there. With so much history to be found in London and elsewhere in Britain (including my own ancestral history in Yorkshire), a return trip is a must.

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