Having cleared the obstacles of getting through the three-tiered and at times surly British customs, when we turned around to come back to Paris we came through one French booth which combined the tripartite Limey Labyrinth into one with a Friendly Frenchman.
In between we had a wonderful time in the land of the Engs. First, we arrived only a few minutes late (snow delay in NW France) into London, bought a post-9:30a day pass and took the Tube from St. Pancreas - OK, so it's actually St. Pancras but it's SO close...! - to Liverpool Street Station on the Circle Line and left our luggage at the aptly-named "Left Luggage" for retrieval for our afternoon journey. Then we walked through the blooming St James Park - not "blooming" as the Eng's curse word, but as "flowering" - where (while cool) it's noticeably warmer than Paris. See photo.
Next, we went to Buckingham Palace to say hi to the Queen but she was not feeling well and - not wanting to impose - we took in the changing of the guard a from outside the Queen's home. See photos.
We then toured Westminster Abbey which is another 13th century Gothic cathedral - Henry III of England was buddies with Louis IX of France. In England, the 700 year old tombs are intact, unlike France where centuries of ground wars and revolution destroyed much of the original work. Then we went by Parliament and Big Ben. See photo.
I can't say the London train system is up to the Paris standard. Except for the train to CDG from GdN we have had no delays in Paris in our constant train use over 30 days. We took 4 inner city trains in London in 24 hours and had 5 delays!
Friday afternoon we headed out of Liverpool Street Station for an hour train ride to Bury St. Edmonds. St. Edmonds didn't recently die - it's the name of the village of our gracious friends Robert and Dorothy Hinton. They live in a 350 year old farm house and they invited us to come spend the night! Now they are coming today to spend 3 nights with us in Paris!
This morning (Saturday) we got up and took the train in to St. Pancras to meet Vladas Stankevicius who - 22 years ago - was the first student I hosted. He is now an attorney with BP oil in London. I had not seen him in the 22 years since he left Georgia. We had breakfast together and he is coming over to Paris Wednesday or Thursday to spend a few days. We are on the bullet train now, flying through the Eng's countryside at 190 mph.