Friday, July 13, 2007

London to Iceland

We were told that constantly converting Pounds to Dollars would slowly drive us crazy. Therefore, it is best not to convert the 52-pound cab ride to Gatwick Airport this morning into dollars. However, if we were to do so (roughly - $125), I believe we will still be justified in paying it. The thrill of swerving through London streets at 5:00am, squealing tires through roundabouts, and hitting over 100 mph (that’s right – miles per hour) on the A23 highway made the trip more about the experience than the destination. The best part, I felt, was that the traffic lights go from red, to amber, to green, allowing our crazy cabbie, with his GPS on the front windshield directing him through the various neighbourhoods as we moved from north to south through London, to treat each light like the start of Formula 1 racing. Nevertheless, an hour later, after following a route I question as the most direct, we arrived at Gatwick and moved smoothly through check-in and security and onto our flight.

Last night we went to a pub. A gastro-pub as they are referred to here – I guess that is the kind of pub that sells more than just beer. Beforehand, I joined Anna as she went to her track club workout, and I ran a few light 400s as the rest of the club ran 14x400 on 1-minute rest. The second group was hitting about 75s, with the fast group consistently holding 65s. Some talented runners in the group but I knew that 400s had about zero to do with Saturday, so after cruising some three 78s, I finished the night with an easy run watching the rest of the group. The track facility itself, in the middle of Hampstead Heath (a HUGE beautiful park) would make Victoria drool. The field in the middle of the track was reserved for throwing events. No multi-purpose. And it was lined for the events! And open to the public. At all times! The facility (without stands) rivals UVic easily, and most other University facilities I have seen.

But back to the pub…

We joined some of Anna’s club and made our way to said pub where a 10 month pregnant barkeep/owner was trying to train a motley crew of imports to run the business when she gives birth tomorrow. Couple English as a second language and a woman obviously tired, stressed, and pregnant beyond belief, and a comedy of errors ensued. Missed meals, ice cream before my meal because they had run out of the appetizer I had ordered, weird tasting 7-Up, and ice cream after my meal because they had brought ice cream before my meal – Basil Fawlty would have been proud. Thankfully the company was funny – British accents make everything funnier – and the food was good. An enjoyable evening spent with some runners, but I feel bad for Sonja who has to deal with the running crowd even when she is on another continent.

Our sleep was abbreviated as we awoke to the triple chime of heart monitor, watch and cell phone at 4:30am. One last check of bags and we were out the door, James Bonding through London to Gatwick, but you know that part already.

We are now enroute to Iceland and the Blue Lagoon for the afternoon. If you have not looked it up yet, you should. Sonja said we should buy the mud. I said ok. I will let you know how that goes…

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