What We Did on Our Holidays (Did They Ever Get Back Home?)

Two weeks is a long time to be away from home (“Tell that to the dog!” said Wanda the Wonder-mutt who spent our vacation in boarding… “Unfair!”), and while we weren’t totally champing at the bit to get back to Oregon, we were definitely looking forward to couch-time with Wanda and other homey delights. But, the journey back can and should be as interesting as the rest of the trip!

Okay Maybe Not THAT Kind of Interesting

That means “exit.”

Getting up again at the butt-crack of dawn, we headed out of our Oslo AirBnB, took a bus to the nearby rail station, and hopped on the airport shuttle. A stop at the VAT refund desk, the currency exchange (note for the future: Krone bills may not necessarily be needed; everything/one takes credit cards), one security checkpoint (“Yes, ma’am, those are hard drives.”), and two passport inspections later, we were on our way to London. With two screaming kids in the row behind us. Kicking. And screaming. For two plus hours.

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Leaving Norway 🇳🇴 #latergram

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Until next time, Norway!
Look, Mummy, there’s an airplane up in the sky….
I left my shoe in Gatwick Airport. Actually, I didn’t, but someone evidently did.

Landing in a dour, rainy day in Gatwick we hurried through passport control, spent way more time than we should have to sort out transportation to London, and got on a Gatwick Express train which had to accommodate two train loads of passengers as a lack of crew cut one train out of the schedule. One cozy ride into Victoria Station later, we checked in to our hotel and started looking for lunch to assuage our travel-bruised bodies and souls.

London Crawling

It turned out that the nearest Wagamama was closed on Sundays, but not to be denied my Cha Han (fried rice and miso soup) we trekked on foot and bus to the next nearest location.

And wouldn’t you know it, no Cha Han on the menu anymore. #denied

One superb lunch later (yeah, no more fried rice, but the ramen is still top notch) we strolled up through town under a welcomingly clear sky and indulged in some wandering and light retail therapy. It’s amazing how one week in Norway makes everything in London seem reasonably priced!

We eventually ended up at the most excellent Treadwell’s Bookshop, picked up a couple of periodicals that contained articles about our friends’ art, and headed back to the hotel for an early evening in.

Do Dead Androids Dream of Dead Sheep?

The following morning I had the unfortunate surprise of finding my Nexus 6P in the dreaded “bootloop” where it would try to boot, crash, and repeat ad infinitum. Fortunately Google Fi support was superbly helpful in getting a replacement device on the way, but I was without a phone. The least I could do was to download offline maps onto my iPad before heading out for the day (fortunately Nancy’s phone worked – unfortunately for her, I kept pestering her to look stuff up).

The Portland House, London. Built in 1963, still standing strong, and looking quite imposing.

Don’t Call Me Angel of North London, Baby

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From the upper deck.

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On our way to Islington.

A quick breakfast at Pret and one leisurely bus ride later, we arrived in the London Borough of Islington (and in case you’re wondering about the awkward attempt at humor in the above title, Angel is “a locality of Islington in Central and North London, England, within the London Borough of Islington” – thanks, Interwebz!).

A great little record shop in Islington (with two other locations in London).
The upstairs at Flashback.
The downstairs at Flashback.

A little bit of shopping and a little bit of snacking, and we’re off to Tate Modern!!!

Better Tate Than Never!

Of the numerous museums in London, the Tate Modern is hands-down the go-to place for us. What once was a power station on the south bank of the Thames River is now a power house of modern art, and given the massive size of the building and the equally massive collections of art contained therewithin, it’s probable that one could spend days going through everything with sufficient time devoted to every exhibit. We only had most of an afternoon, but as they (don’t) say: view art while the sun shines!

No album cover featuring inflatable pigs have been made with this building, but who cares, it’s awesome.
One can still smell the engine oil from the Tate Modern’s days as a power plant! Actually the volatile organic chemicals in the air is from the paint being applied to the floor for the next exhibit.
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Here’s the fellow hard at work with the abovementioned paint.

It’s mindblowing that this collection, with the exception of a handful of exhibits, is free to view. Of particular resonance with me was the Weimar Republic art exhibit:

Just a quick panorama of one of the gallery rooms. Read more about the exhibit here.
A timeline of the Weimar Republic which probably never had a fair chance.

And there’s a gazillion other works of art what I breezed through, kinda like speed channel-surfing. I’m not proud of doing that, but as I said, we only had an afternoon to spend.

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The sign for Christian Marclay’s 24-hour film.
And speaking of 24-hour party people, here’s Peter Saville’s tribute to the Tate Modern.
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Tate Modern colors, no. 3. #latergram

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One can exit and enter through the gift shop!
These doors almost never close.

After all the art my heart could handle that day (Nancy would have stayed longer, as her heart is huge!), we headed back to the hotel.

The classic view from the South Bank.
A view of the London skyline. One can imagine Cumberbatch & Freeman doing their Sherlocky things over there somewhere.
The singular St. Paul’s Cathedral.

One Last Round Before We Go

Before going gently into our last night in London Town, we met up with Bob from Treasures of Mexico/The Dentists and Beth from The Luxembourg Signal/Jetstream Pony for dinner and drinks at The Windsor Castle pub.

It’s a pub! Yeah, truly.

We Took the Long Way Home

Once again getting up at the butt-crack of dawn, we headed out of the hotel towards Paddington Station for the Heathrow Express, but our cabbie made us a deal and dropped us off right at Terminal 2 (“The Queen’s Terminal!” “Oh no, I thought she was healthy!” [drum roll, canned laughter).

When the sun hits… Heathrow Airport.
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Brief layover at IAH. #latergram

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And a layover in Houston.

Twenty plus some odd hours later, we landed in Portland, Oregon.

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On final approach for landing.
No PDX carpet photo this time.
His ‘n’ hers Moomin mugs.

A week-plus later, and we’re still getting over jet lag and the 8-9 hour time difference, but regular intake of good tea in these mugs is helping. Now we’re planning our return to Norway with a jaunt to the northern part of the country next time!

Thanks for reading!!!