You can sometimes be surprised at what you remember most from a trip. After traveling to London, Edinburgh, and Dublin I’ve had time to reflect on all that we did. We saw lots of interesting places. We saw the new Harry Potter film in a great theater in Piccadilly Circus. We went to the stage production of Mary Poppins. We went to a lot of good restaurants. We saw lots of natural wonders like the cliffs of Moher. We took tours of famous buildings and saw many wondrous works of art. But none of those things are what I remember most.
What I remember most was an incident in Luton. We had flown into Luton because Ryan Air flew there for 1.99 pounds per person. We could also find a reasonable hotel that had good train accesses into London. We went into London to see the show “The Lion King”. We thought we could just pick up tickets for the show that night (perhaps a bit over optimistic since I was later told there was a 4 month wait). We were able to find a discount ticket seller, and eventually settled on seeing the evening show of Mary Poppins which was my daughter’s first choice anyway. The tickets were 80 pounds each and, when my wife asked how much they were with the discount, we were informed that 80 pounds was already discounted. Nobody ever said that London was cheap.
The show was great, but that wasn’t what I remember most. After the show we had to take two subway rides and a train to get back to our hotel. About 5 minutes into the second subway ride, my son announced that he really, really has to go to the bathroom. We still had about 5 minutes to go to get to the “King’s Cross” station, and then another 30 minutes on the train back to Luton. He was sure he couldn’t wait for the hotel, but he was OK with getting to King’s Cross (barely). Of course, when we get to King’s Cross we can’t find a bathroom anywhere. With my son getting gradually more and more upset, we decide to try to find a restaurant on the street. By this time it is about 12 O’clock and a lot people seem to be stumbling out of bars. The first two restaurants we try have just locked up, but finally we are successful at a Middle Eastern kabob place (to the great relief of my son). On the way back toward the station there are even more people out on the street and my son (10) and daughter (9) started to get nervous. “Daddy, those people look like they’re drunk…They scare me.”
This actually surprised me. We had been in the London area for a few days and seen a lot of drinking already. In fact, there was a pretty rowdy bar in our hotel. When we arrived late on a Saturday night, the entrance to the hotel was blocked off with a line of people waiting to get in. I had to push my way to the front of the line to talk to one of the bouncers at the door. He sent two other bouncers back to help with our bags and move people out of the way. As we pushed our way through many loud dancing people with full pints, I thought our hotel choice might have been a big mistake. To be honest, my thoughts were more along the lines of, “Thank god my wife picked this hotel so I’m not going to be blamed for this.” It turned out the rooms were down a long corridor away from the bar and fairly nice, so the hotel worked out well. But the point was that the kids weren’t nervous at all, which is why it surprised me that they got nervous later, outside King’s Cross.
Anyway…, with both kids starting to get upset, we hustled through King’s Cross and were able to get onto the last train back to Luton. With the excitement of the show, the adrenalin from being nervous and the fact that it was after midnight, the kid’s lasted approximately 30 seconds in our comfortable train seats before they were fast asleep. The train had us back to Luton at approximately 12:45 at night. Luckily, my son popped right up when we reached the station, but my daughter was out cold. I just had to pick her up and carry her the three long blocks back to the hotel. About two thirds of the way back, I was startled to feel a kiss on my neck. I looked down and saw my daughter staring up at me. She looked completely content. She had been scared and tired and she didn’t know where she was, but when she woke to find herself in my arms she had no cares and just felt herself overcome with affection. About 3 seconds later she was back to sleep. I’m not sure why such a little thing would make me feel so good, but it did, and I still remember that kiss. In fact, that kiss was the best part of the whole trip, and that kiss is what I will remember the most.