Tuesday, July 30, 2013

We Have a Date!

I know I said I'd post before we left for Europe if we scheduled a date for our transfer but I lied. Well, I didn't really lie. I just didn't want to write a one-line post with a date and nothing more to say. So, now that we're back from our wonderfully romantic and exhausting trip to London and Paris, I have a story to tell that will make a post that's interesting, and hopefully amusing, to read.

But I'll start with the news everyone is waiting to hear...

August 30th!! 

In ONE MONTH our little frozen babies will be thawed and shot into Lyndsay's fully prepped uterus. I can't believe it's actually happening! All that's left to do before Lyndsay can start her medication next week is to get our attorneys on the same page so we can sign our contracts. Damn lawyers!!

So that's all for the baby update. Who wants to hear about the tour guide from Hell? Ok, I'll tell you about him! 

I woke up on our second morning in London on July 22nd and immediately Googled, "Royal Baby" to see if the Duchess had gone into labor yet. Let me explain that the only reason I cared about a baby I will never know, born to a couple I will never meet, is that I was actually in the country where said baby will eventually become King. I figured there might be some excitement in the area when the kid finally pops out. Anyway, the first result that popped up on my screen read, "Royal baby is coming!" Should be an interesting day, I thought to myself.

Jimmi and I got out of bed and got ready for full day of sightseeing in London with a private tour guide. We figured, since we really didn't have much time in the city, we should hire someone who could take us to all the major sites so we wouldn't waste time trying to find our way around an unknown city. Surprisingly, we'd done really well on our own the day before. We took a cab to The Tower of London (not included in the private tour) and, armed with only a paper map, walked 4 miles back to our hotel, stopping anywhere that looked interesting along the way. It was actually a pretty cool way to see the area. But this tour needed to cover a lot of ground and we had to be on a tight schedule to see everything we wanted to see, including Westminster Abbey, The Changing of the Guard, The London Eye, St. Paul's Cathedral, Trafalgar Square and Picadilly Circus. And we needed to be back at the hotel by 6:00 to shower and change in time for our dinner reservation. And did I mention we requested a walking tour? We absolutely did not want to sit in a stuffy bus or car all day so walking sounded like the way to go. After our travel agent booked the tour she forwarded an e-mail from the company warning us that we needed to be in excellent physical condition to handle the amount of walking we'd be doing. Even though I was slightly worried after nursing a fractured pelvic bone for the last two months, I assured her we'd be fine.

Our guide, Paul, called to say he'd be late to pick us up due to rush hour traffic. It was only about ten minutes, so no big deal. He showed up to the hotel a bit surprised to see such a young couple, as he's used to older people. He was dressed in long pants, dress shoes, a long-sleeved button down shirt and a blazer. Keep in mind that day was the hottest one London had seen in about 7 years. We immediately told him to take off the jacket and roll up his sleeves because we were very casual and didn't need formalities. He refused because his shirt was wrinkled. Since it was only 9:15 AM, the heat wasn't too bad yet, but a high of 95 degrees was expected by early afternoon. By the way, I'm pretty sure Paul had never brushed his teeth...ever. The bright red gums and killer breath were clear indications. But I digress.

We started our tour at Westminster Abbey, where we immediately informed Paul that we were very quick lookers and didn't need to spend hours learning the history. After about 90 minutes, Jimmi and I felt kinda like bored kids being forced to sit through history class and I politely reminded Paul that we'd like to see the Changing of the Guard at 11:15. We rushed out into the heat that was beginning to build and trotted off to Buckingham Palace. Of course, at that point, we were too late to get anywhere near the place and ended up standing up the road where the new guards would come out of the holding area. Paul kept insisting we only needed to see "the beginning and end bits" and everything in the middle was boring. So instead of going up to the palace to try and watch, he walked us into the park because HE desperately needed a drink since he was sweating so brutally. Once again, Jimmi and I told him to take off his jacket but he refused.

We hung out drinking water in the park for longer than I would've liked. I felt like we were just wasting time and we had a lot to see. Paul kept talking about cooling off in the shade for a bit but Jimmi and I were fine and wanted to truck on. I finally just started walking and after Paul got the hint, he brought us to the building where the off duty guards would go after they left the palace. This was where the "end bit" of the ceremony would take place. After waiting about 10 minutes I let him know that I really wanted to get moving since we had planned a full day and we needed to be back by 6 to change for dinner. He had us wait (in the shade) another 10 minutes until I told him more directly that we wanted to go. I was a little disappointed that we never actually got to see the guards change. But at least he asked a whole lot of uncomfortable and inappropriate questions about labor and childbirth while we waited, so that was fun.

We left and headed off to the riverboat to take us to St Paul's Cathedral. by that time it was probably 90 degrees out and our guide was clearly uncomfortable. He mentioned the unbearable heat numerous times as the sweat poured from his brow. Again, we insisted he remove his jacket to no avail.

We arrived at the pier and Paul held our tickets out to the taker who informed us that we were in the wrong place and had to walk way down to the other pier. We finally boarded the correct boat and Paul left us to get a drink. He didn't return until our stop was called (good thing since we had no idea what stop we needed) and I saw the covered cup in his hand. "You're drinking coffee in this heat?" I asked. "Oh, no," Paul replied. "It's cold milk." Ummmm...eeeewwwww! What adult drinks a cup of plain milk when they're outside walking around in the heat all day? A white residue quickly formed on his lips and stretched between them as he spoke. I couldn't look directly at him for a very long time. Once we exited the boat our guide kept talking about eating lunch, though we were fine to just continue on. After realizing that he REALLY wanted us to eat, we finally agreed and he brought us to a restaurant and headed off to make phone calls or pass out or something. Then it was off to St Paul's.

The Cathedral was beautiful! We headed up the 250 or so steps to the Whispering Gallery, where the theory is, one person can whisper into the wall and another person can hear what was said from across the room. It actually worked! When we were ready to continue on, Paul asked that we head to the top (another 300 steps) without him, as he was just too hot and wasn't wearing the right shoes. We had no problem with that but I had to laugh since the tour company was worried WE wouldn't be able to handle a walking tour!

Jimmi and I made it to the top and then met Paul when we came back down. It was getting late and I was worried we wouldn't have time to do everything we had scheduled after all the wasted time in the morning. Paul suggested we skip Picadilly and go there on our own another time. I was not happy since we were very specific with what we wanted on this tour. He then kept mentioning that we should take a bus to the London Eye. Again, not happy, as we wanted a WALKING tour not a hot bus tour. He even offered to pay for our bus tickets, but Jimmi and I refused and forced the hot, sweaty, milky-lipped man to continue on foot.

As we walked to the Eye Paul moaned all the way about the pressing heat. But his complaints were forgiven when we got the the giant ferris wheel and were able to skip the mile-long line because he had friends who were working there that day. After a very anti-climactic "flight" on the Eye, Paul knew not to even suggest a bus and we quickly walked through Trafalgar Square and Picadilly Circus.

We made it back to the hotel a few minutes early and our sweaty and still fully suited guide threw himself onto a chair in the hotel cafe because he desperately needed to rest his aching feet, soak up the air conditioning and allow Jimmi to buy him a drink.

And that is why we will NEVER hire a private tour guide EVER again.

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