When deciding to partake in this adventure halfway around the world, one of the major motivating factors was the opportunity to travel in Europe. An added bonus was the opportunity to see a stage of the Tour de France. We were able to check that off our list on Monday when we traveled to London to see the end of the 3rd stage of this year’s Tour. Bill and the girls took the train to London mid morning. Monday’s are my half days at work, and I arranged to go in extra early so that I could leave early and catch a late morning train. Bill and the girls had an uneventful trip (as uneventful as traveling with two young children can be). They arrived in London and camped out partway up a large golden topped statue in front of Buckingham Palace. They luckily ended up near a family with a daughter close to Sparrow’s age, and the three girls entertained each other during the three hour wait until the cyclists finally arrived. At one point they were able to hold and wave a large Kenyan flag with Froome’s name on it.
My journey was not quite so routine. I made the train with about 20 seconds to spare, running from the bus stop to the train station, bought my tickets, and then ran down the stairs and up to the opposite platform where my train was waiting. I enjoyed my good luck at making the train and settled in to reading. However, a few stops later we were informed that a truck up ahead had hit a bridge that we needed to go over, and the bridge had to be examined by engineers to determine whether the train was safe to cross. There was talk at one point of possibly bussing us to the station on the other side of the bridge, about 20 miles away. Finally, an hour later we had the go ahead to continue on the train to London. After another short delay at the Faversham station, we were on our way. The rest of the trip went smoothly, though it ended up taking me three hours to get to London. I walked from London Victoria Station to Buckingham Palace and met up with Bill and the girls. I waited with them for about an hour, during which time we had the added bonus of seeing the Queen peeking out of one of the windows at the Palace to observe the festivities. The girls were absolutely wonderful, after almost two hours on a train and then waiting three hours for the cyclists.
Surprisingly, we had a good view of the course right at the last turn before the finish line. There were a lot of people present, but we were high enough up on the statue the our view wasn’t very obstructed. I was surprised by the wimpiness of the cheering as the cyclists rode by considering the size of the crowd. It was exciting to see in reality what we had been watching on TV for the past few years.
Afterwards, we walked through nearby Green Park where there were food vendors as well as a large TV screen showing the race.
We walked to a Japanese noodle shop for dinner, Wagamama’s, of which there are several in London. This restaurant as well as Pizza Express saved us as far as food goes when we came to Europe in 2001. We had just sat down when Tanager started wimpering. I looked down and realized that she was peeing what looked like about a gallon in volume all over the bench and onto the floor. I don’t know how that had all fit into her little bladder. With all the excitement, she had not realized that she needed to go to the bathroom. We had even walked by a public restroom about five minutes before entering the restaurant and asked if anyone needed to go. I found one of the employees and asked for a rag or napkins to clean it up. I then left Bill and the girls and went to the nearest clothing store that carried children’s clothes. I found a swim suit to substitute for underwear and a long sleeve swimsuit coverup, and a new outfit was found! I returned to the restaurant, took TT into the bathroom to change, and when we left there, there was no sign that anything had ever happened, both from our appearance as well as the restaurant.
We made our way back to Green Park and picked up some Tour de France swag, and then headed back to the train station for the ride back to Margate. All in all a successful day – we saw the end of a leg of the Tour, reunited with a noodle shop we had visited in years past, and hey, we saw the Queen. Not bad for an afternoon. Looking forward to many more visits to London in the near future.