DAY 1:  Raleigh to Paris (via London)

I spent the past couple of days trying to get my body clock tuned to the time in the UK.  My crowning achievement was getting up at 3 a.m. on the day of my 6:45 p.m. flight to London.  My scheme was to be up during the morning hours of "London time",  and sleep on the flight  -- arriving in London on May 16th, fresh as a daisy 7:30 a.m. "London Time".

Well, that's not how it worked out.  Oh, I got up at 3 a.m. -- and stayed up all day.  I arrived at the airport and caught my flight.  Sleeping on the way over?  It didn't happen.  Between my excitement, a crying baby, and two chatty Frenchmen next to me, I hardly got a wink.  Thus, I arrived in London bleary eyed and dog-tired.

I received a jolt of adrenaline at the airport in London.  As members of the Trafalgar tour group began gathering at the meeting point in the terminal, we suddenly heard frantic shouts.  I looked up to see two men running about 20 feet away from me, with one grabbing the first trying to pull him down on the ground.  Within about 10 seconds, I saw three pairs of policemen dressed in somewhat of a SWAT style (earphones, vests, etc.) come rushing from three different locations, literally "diving in" on top of the two men.   Incredibly, I saw people, including some from

At the airport and ready to go!

my group, start walking towards the commotion.  My first instinct was to back off, and get behind a column, and a structure.  I didn't know if the man had a gun, a bomb, or what -- but I wasn't about to find out!  After the rukus died down, I saw several policemen carry the first (somewhat bloody) man off in hand cuffs.  I never did find out what happened -- but for a short time, I was awake!

Next, we clamored aboard a transit van and began making our way to the various hotels.  My hotel was the last stop, so those of us towards the end of the drops ended up getting an impromptu driving tour in London!  We finally arrived at our hotel, the Tower Thistle at around 11:00 a.m.   My traveling cohort for the trip, Douglas Bradley, was waiting outside the hotel.  The view from the room is fantastic.  We have a full view of the Tower Bridge, just about as close as one can get!

Douglas and I got off the train in Paris and ran into friends of his from Montana!  Josh and Peter were instructors last year at Eastgate where Douglas works.  Josh and Peter just happened to be in Paris at the same time we were.  Douglas had e-mailed them to tell them we would be in Paris, but we never expected them to meet us at the train station.   Peter was holding a "Doug" sign out in the lobby -- like one of the chauffeurs at the airport!  We all had a great laugh and started taking the subway to the middle of town.  We popped up in the middle of town, and finally decided to take a cab to the Eiffel Tower .  Our time was running short, and we wanted to make our way to the top of the tower before leaving.   The view from the tower was incredible!  We shot lots of video and took many pictures, which you'll all get a chance to see after I get back home.

Keith, Douglas and Josh on the
Eiffel Tower.

Our short afternoon in Paris was over.  It was much too short -- but I wouldn't trade it for the world.  We took a cab back to the train station.  Outside the train station, we decided we had time for one more diversion -- a quick meal.  What did we choose?  A fast food place called "Quick" -- the French version of Macdonald's!   

London Tube (subway) Ticket

We're aboard the train back to London now.  It's been a long trek, and I'm looking forward to a good night sleep and starting our tour of local London, tomorrow.

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