Confession: this particular leg of our journey is the one I, personally, was most excited about.
London, United Kingdom.
A city filled with history. Exactly my speed.
Speaking of speed, let me back up and share a few details about the Formula One Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi (Not to be confused with Abu the monkey.)(I HAD to get that in here somewhere.)
It was much more exhilarating than I thought it would be. The guys were, of course, totally stoked, and I was excited that they were excited...but I've never followed racing much, and only care about it in a "yeah, my husband and boys watch that on the weekends sometimes while I'm cleaning the kitchen and getting groceries" kind of way.
But it was a spectacular experience. Every time the cars, going over 200 miles an hour, raced toward us down the straightaway, then braked sharply to turn the 90 degree corner, jockeying for position and screeching their tires, I gasped and clenched my hands together, thoroughly enjoying the rush of adrenaline.
All in all, I'm glad I went. It was very cool.
After the race, we walked to the adjoining mall for supper, where we realized, for the second time during our visit to the United Arab Emirates, that their malls are the size of our cities. (I'm exaggerating, but only a little bit. I've never seen anything so gigantic. And we walked the entire dang length of the building, I swear.) In the food court, because we are clearly Americans, we ordered Burger King and Pizza Hut. (insert self deprecating, bemused eye-roll here.)
We rose before the sun and boarded a plane in Abu Dhabi. A fancy plane. A double decker, with a bar in first class and apartments available if you were willing to pay 60 THOUSAND dollars for it. We were NOT willing, (duh) but even economy class was swanky. (by the way, why do they have to call it economy, like that dresses it up? Just say cheap seats, people. That's what they are, and we all know it. No reason to try and make it better with flowery words.)(Tangent ended.)
And that brings us up to London. Where I turned into a total history geek, as expected. I read all the things I could find to read, and when there was no information available, I made Heath turn on his WiFi hotspot so I could use it to google information.
Our first cab driver of the day called our accents funny. And he regaled us with jokes, historical information, and boasts about his city. When he told us that London was the best city on earth because no one was allowed to carry a gun, I wanted to remind him: "Um, sir, we are Americans. You know, the home of the wild, wild west? We are a bunch of cowboys, according to the rest of the world. We have the 2nd amendment...we aren't really impressed by that last little tidbit. Move back to the jokes." Ah, the diversity of world culture.
I wish that we could've spent several more days in London. I am pretty sure I will always want more time in historically rich cities.
But what we saw...was magical. We hopped on a double decker tour bus outside our hotel, and away we went. Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster Abbey...and much more. We ate fish and chips and drank mulled cider at a local London Pub. We ordered lattes from a tiny, owner operated cafe. We rode the London Eye after dark. We walked around shivering because it was so flipping cold. We had the time of our lives.
It was a perfect way to celebrate Heath's 40th birthday, which, if I haven't said so already, was the main reason for the entire eight day adventure. We finished off the celebration of my favorite man in the world with supper at a nice restaurant, and another harrowing cab ride.
And now we are bound for home.
Customs in the London Heathrow airport was just shy of being strip searched, and all four of us find ourselves as excited to be on our way back to the land of the free and the home of the brave as we were to depart on our whirlwind, globe-trotting, birthday bash.
The United States of America is calling to our hearts, as everyone's homeland calls to them, I imagine. But mostly, we long for our sweet kids; for their kisses and hugs, and the way they smell, and how loud and rowdy they are. We cannot wait to hear their voices calling us "Mom and Dad."
We are ready to be home.
Where everyone is free to choose how to worship. And everyone can drink the water straight from the tap. And our phone chargers work in every outlet. And we have a WiFi package. And guns. And we drive on the correct side of the street.
London was fantastic, but there really is no place like home.