Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I meet the "Family" - Day Three

I think there must have been something in that Irn-Bru cause I didn't sleep so well that night. I woke up at about 2am and had trouble falling back asleep. Then I kept going in and out of sleep until I decided to get up at about 7. I was sharing a room with Silas and Beck and that night I was sleeping in Silas' bed, Silas was in Beck's bed, and Beck was sleeping on the floor with a bunch of boxes walled around him?!? In the middle of the night I woke up to Beck crying. In his sleep he had smashed through the boxes and was now on the other side of the room. I asked him what was wrong and he said, "I want to be over there" and pointed at his makeshift bed on the floor. I told him to crawl back then (stupid kids). He got back in his bed, I tucked him in and refitted the boxes around him. In the morning it was all destroyed again.

We played for a few hours until everyone else woke up. Had our breakfast, talked for a bit, and then back to downtown London we went! Our first stop was some big monument thing in the business district.

I wanted to climb it but Robyn was too wussy. Actually, I was sooo tired. We went to Starbucks and got ourselves something to help jolt our systems. I don't think it helped me much. Our next stop was to look at the Thames River and see the Tower Bridge and London Bridge.

After that we zipped back to the Parliament building area and I took some pictures.

Next stop was Buckingham Palace. We got there just as they were changing the guards. That was mildly exciting. There was a lot of people there!

It was now time to have some lunch and head over to the theatre to see Mary Poppins! This would also be my first encounter with...the "Family".

As we made our way into the theatre, Robyn spotted some of them and pointed them out to me, but it wasn't enough to make a first impression. Later on, when we found our seats, they made their way down the aisle and into my life (I don't know why I'm making this so dramatic, it wasn't that big a deal). Anyways, the kids were super excited to see Robyn. They showed her all the candy they had bought (which is a very big part of their lives) as well as a number of magic tricks they had bought (foreshadowing!). They didn't talk to me much at first, they were more excited to see Robyn of course, but after awhile I felt pretty comfortable talking to them.

The play began and our seats were pretty terrible. We were the absolute last row at the highest point in the whole place. It was soooo hot up there and my legs could hardly fit. When the play started I was impressed right away. The production was quite something. The set design and the costumes and special effects were incredible. They were all great singers and the dancing was choreographed quite well. But overall, I have to say it was pretty boring. I hadn't seen Mary Poppins for a very long time, so the story was new to me, but still, it didn't really pull me along for the ride. By the intermission I was ready to get out of there. It was something to see her flying though! So that was a little disappointing, but what can you do?!? I'm glad I got to experience it at least.

I took this photo of the National Gallery that evening

Afterwards we left to get our bags from the Watts' and head to King's Cross to meet up with the "Family" again for our voyage home on the "Flying Scotsman" (that's a train). Did you know King's Cross is where Harry Potter catches the Hogwart's Express??!? I found out just the other day that they have this set up for tourists:

Next time that'll be me pushing the cart!

The train ride was nice. In no time we were in Newark, but unfortunately there wasn't enough room in the car for all us. Robyn, the "Mom", the "Daughter", and I waited about an hour for the "Dad" to drive the others home and come back to pick us up. By the time we got back I was about ready to fall asleep. Nothing could prepare me, though, for what adventures awaited me the next day!!!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The End of a Great Day - Day Two (Part Two)

So after the wax museum, I quickly went to see if the Sherlock Holmes Museum was any good, but it didn't seem worth the 10 pounds. Robyn made some phone calls to figure out what we were going to do for New Years. We then went to this really cool restaurant/pub place. It was a great atmosphere, and I liked the food. So we made the decision not to stay in London for New Years for a few reasons:

1. It was now Friday. The trains would be closed on New Year's Day. So that meant we would have to stay in London until Tues (that's 4 more nights).
2. We didn't want to burden Phil & Ingrid with staying that long, because they and their kids were battling sickness.
3. Robyn's other friend only had a couch, so one of us would have to sleep on the floor.
4. We just weren't in the mood to stick around in those conditions.

So we decided to stay in London one more night and travel to Lincolnshire on Sat evening.

After lunch I'm not exactly sure what we did. My mind was a bit fuzzy for some reason...I think we went to the National Gallery next. They have a bunch of paintings there. We didn't spend a whole lot of time, I would like to go back when I'm more aware. Somehow or other we got to the Parliament buildings at about 4. In that area is Big Ben, the London Eye, and Westminster Abbey. After that we roamed around Piccadilly Circus. Our main objective was to find the theatre where Mary Poppins was playing (cause we were going there the next day). For supper we went to McDonald's (I'm an addict!).

I had seen these signs for a play called "The 39 Steps" in Piccadilly Circus. One of Alfred Hitchcock's first movies was based on the book. I have that movie and it's pretty good, so I thought, let's check it out. When we got to the theatre we noticed these posters with different reviews on it. I don't remember what the exact quotes were (Robyn should hopefully post them soon), but they said things like "Hilarious" and "Funny". I couldn't remember the movie being that funny, so I didn't really know what to make of it. We decided to go and bought the cheapest seats we could find. One of the quotes that stood out to us was something like, "It goes down like Hannay's Whiskey & Soda." We both were intrigued...what does that even mean?!? None of us had tried a Hannay's Whiskey & Soda so we had no frame of reference. This set us on a mission!

We wandered around looking for a pub with a nice feel to it. We passed a few, but nothing grabbed our attention, until we got to this quaint little place off on its own. We went inside and asked for two Hannay's Whiskey & Sodas. The bartender had no clue what we were talking about. So we decided just to try a different brand of whiskey. We took our drinks and prepared to analyze it to understand how we might experience the play. All I remember was it didn't really taste like anything, it was like drinking air. Did that mean the play would be insignificant to me?? Would I sit through the play and not realize I was watching actors??? Robyn commented it reminded her of smoke...I think she had a bias coming into this against all whiskey. This wasn't a good sign before the play...

So we left the pub scratching our heads, what did this all mean?!? After puttering around until it was closer to showtime, we made our way into the theatre and into our own private box! When we had bought the tickets it had said there was "restricted view". We weren't sure if that meant a post in the way or what. So we get in our box and right away we realize we could hardly even see the stage! Haha, I had to lean over the edge the whole time and I still couldn't totally see everything!!!

But regardless of the poor seats and the mixed signals we got from our drinks, the play ended up being really funny! We had a blast, even sitting in the box was fun in it's own right. In the play there are about 150 different characters, but they had 4 actors playing all the roles. They were really good, and they made it enjoyable to watch.

"Am I rrrrrright sir?"

I began to realize that what we had read about this play was slightly misleading. One write up said, "Nothing has been cut from this spectacular premiere of Britain’s most spellbinding thriller—the legendary scenes include the chase on the Flying Scotsman, the escape on the Forth Bridge, the first theatrical bi-plane crash ever staged and the death defying finale at a packed London Palladium." They had very little props so they had to really use their acting skills to make us believe they were at these certain locations. I don't want to ruin how they managed to get a bi-plane to crash on their small stage (you'll have to see it yourself!).

Notice they are not really in a car...

Also, I noted right away that the main character's last name was Hannay. In the play his drink of choice was guess what??? WHISKEY & SODA!!!!! Hannay was not a brand of whiskey!!!! I felt kinda stupid after that. But I still don't know what that review had to say about the play??!

That was good choice, I'm glad we went! Afterwards we made our way back to the Watts' residence. On the way there Robyn bought me some Irn-Bru...a very popular drink in Scotland. It was basically just like McD's orange drink but carbonated. Yum!!! I fell asleep wonderfully, because remember, I had overcome my jetlag just like that!

"Day two goes down like Roste's IRN-BRU." - West End Review

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A fantastic day in London - Day Two (Part One)

I had a really good sleep the night before day two...looks like my plan to overcome jet lag is a success!!! I woke up and played with Silas for awhile. Then we had breakfast and off we went into London for what could be one of the best days of my life....

Our first stop was the Wax Museum! I had bought tickets online and booked them for that morning. On the internet people were commenting it's good to buy online cause the lineups can be long for the wax museum. Sounds ridiculous?!?!? That's what I thought, but I still did it. Once there we found the queue for prepaid tickets and it wasn't too bad, took us about 15 mins to get in. As we're standing in line, there's another line right beside leading up to the place where you purchase tickets at the door. That lineup didn't seem long to me at all, so I thought, guess it didn't really matter that we bought tickets online...until a guy came around the corner, "Attention, if you are waiting to buy tickets for the wax museum, you need to move over to this other queue! You are all queued behind people trying to get out of the rain! This is not the queue for the wax museum!" I couldn't believe it...all those people were standing in a fake line!!?! When they all moved I could see the real line which stretched forever in the other direction. Oh those poor people (but lucky us, we didn't even have to stand in the rain!!!). I can't remember exactly, but I heard that queue was at least an hour long (correct me if I'm wrong Robyn).

So we're finally inside. I wasn't sure how Robyn would take to the whole experience, but I was going to make her take my picture anyways. Once we got out of the elevator into the first main area Robyn turned absolutely giddy! It was a side of her I think I only ever see at camp. She would look to her left, "Oh, look it's that guy!!!" and then to her right, "I can't believe she's here!!!". Haha, it was too funny. Right away she wanted me to take pictures of her with different people. Here are some of the good ones:

Robyn actually has a friend that looks like Jessica Simpson

Here she is performing for Simon Cowell and some other guy

It's Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Greg!!!

Robyn makes her move on Beckham while some mystery kid distracts Posh Spice

Robyn finally makes contact with a certain Irishman

I'm touching her bum!

...and Tom is grabbing mine!

After the first area they had a section for Pirates of the Carribean. Orlando and Captain Jack looked really good, but Keira was hurtin' so I didn't take her picture.

The next room was different celebrities. They had this huge Hulk wax figure, which I'm sure they wouldn't have made if they had realized how horrible that movie was. No one took his picture.

Did you know we have the same size hands?
"I'm a cybernetic organism: living tissue over a metal endoskeleton!"

I was so honoured to finally meet the Master

After that was a room with more historical figures. My camera battery died halfway through, I was pretty choked cause I was just getting into it! I forgot to charge it the night we got in.

I should have worn a tie.

Great minds share the same hairstyle...

After that was the chamber of horrors. Haha, online I was a little confused when I was buying the tickets. We had to pay extra to go into the chamber of horrors live. I thought that meant we had to pay to go into the chamber of horrors (which is one of my favorite parts of wax museums) so I told Robyn she was sucking it up cause I wanted to go in. Turns out, the chamber of horrors is free, its just the live part that costs money. Haha, hahahaha, oh boy, if I had known that...I once took Chanel into a live horror show like that, big mistake! Now I'm dragging Robyn in and I don't even really care about it that much. Poor girl! They liked to pick on her cause she was freaking out. In the insane asylum section this crazy girl came between us and wouldn't let Robyn get by. She kept muttering stuff about wanting to eat her and rip her apart or something like that. Haha, oh man....let's just say after we finally got out of there Robyn had to take a little timeout to compose herself.

Then we went into the actual chamber of horrors, which was alright, but not nearly as good as the Victoria one. So far that's my favorite.

I can't wait to go back...

After the chamber we got onto these moving taxi car things Disneyland style that took us through the history of London. I thought it was fascinating. I liked the part when everything was on fire. At the beginning of the ride we noticed a tv screen showing pictures of people in the cars, so we knew there would be a camera up ahead and we planned what our pose would be. I thought it would be funny for Robyn to choke me, cause then all the people in the line could laugh at our picture. As we're coming around the corner at one part of the ride we hear in a strong british accent, "Oy! Oy! Wew gowng taykca pahehfqo!" Then there was this Santa Claus figure and we're both like, "What's that all about?" when suddenly we hear the camera go off taking our picture. We then realize, the voice said something like, "Oy! Oy! We're going to take your photo!" which would have been nice to understand so we could do our pose. Dang it!!!

So that part was done and then it's on to this planetarium type theatre to watch a movie. We probably waited 15 mins to get into this movie, which turned out being only 8 mins long. It was a claymation short about some aliens who love Earth cause it's filled with stars (celebrities). Then they come to Earth to see them, and they cut the screen out and pop over with cameras and we all waved as they took our photo. It was so dumb, there were plenty of jokes scattered throughout it, but no one laughed or made any noise or anything. It was completely lame! And I think the message of the flick was really that we're lame cause we like celebrities so much that we paid to look at their wax figures. Good one...

So the Wax Museum in itself was such a huge adventure it deserved a post dedicated solely to it. The rest of the day will be posted next....

Thursday, January 18, 2007

So yeah, I went to England - Day One

December 27th my good buddy Shane Tarnow drove me to the airport and off I was to the UK. I was kinda nervous about the trip, didn't really know what to expect, but whatever.

The flight was nice...but the sound wasn't working properly at my seat so I couldn't watch the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie. I still have yet to watch it. One thing that I discovered! I'm comfortable with flying now, I wasn't so much before (hated takeoffs and landings). Now it was really no big deal at all, that surprised me.

One of my biggest concerns for this trip was jet lag. England is 8 hours ahead of us, so that means everyone is falling asleep at 11pm and to me it feels like 3 in the afternoon. My plan to beat this was to stay up most of the night before my flight, and then try to sleep on the plane, wake up just before we land at Heathrow, which would be noon (when I normally wake up anyways!). Sounds like a great plan, everything was working perfectly, but I could not sleep on the plane. What was I thinking?!?? So now I'm in London completely wiped cause I haven't slept much in two days.

I caught a train to King's Cross (that's the station where Harry Potter catches the Hogwarts Express!!!). Met up with Robyn there and sat down for a bite to eat. I was kind of out of it...Robyn filled me in some tips for getting by, we ate, don't really remember what else happened.

Then we got on the Tube and headed to Phil and Ingrid's place in South London. I was surprised to find the Tube was exactly like the skytrain but underground. I don't know what I was expecting really...maybe I was hoping it was like those pneumatic tubes they have in Costco to send their overflow cash to the back. That would have been an adventure to ride in!

I had met Phil and Ingrid before, but I didn't really get to know their kids (they were quite young the last time I saw them). But this time around I spent a lot of time playing with Silas and Beck. I don't remember how old they are (6 and 3 maybe?!?). Beck was sick so I mainly played with Silas. That kid is quite incredible! I have never met a child like him and I hope and pray that I have a child one day that is that unique and fun. The first thing he did was show me the crane that he had invented in his bedroom. That was fun, he had a bucket tied to a string hanging from the curtain rod. To get up to the curtain rod he climbed up the wall to get on top of this large wardrobe. I couldn't believe he just climbed up there?!?! And that's not the only thing he the living room later on he pulled himself up onto the window and free-climbed his way across the other three windows. He had a lot of interesting facts about rockets and words he had learned. Plus he really enjoyed singing me to sleep so that he could sneak up to me and get his leg trapped in my hand, which could only be freed if he tickled my wrist. Yeah...hmm??!?

Then for supper we had Indian food, which was really really good. I don't normally like Indian food, so I was very happy when it tasted good. Then I went to bed and fell asleep pretty fast. I had been fighting the urge to sleep all evening so that I would pass out at the normal UK bedtime. I woke up once in the middle of the night but then fall back asleep and had a wonderful night's rest.

And thus concludes day one...

Sunday, January 14, 2007

I have returned! - Day Fourteen

After 17 hours of travel I finally arrived home last Wednesday night. I thought the tube would take me an hour to get to Heathrow Airport, but it turned out to be more like an hour and a half. I thought I was cutting it close getting through security. Once I got to the Air Canada check-in area though, I couldn't believe how long the lines were. Thankfully I had checked in online the night before, so I just had to check my bags in at the self check area. I got into a line of about 6 people. I then stood in the same spot for an hour. Turns out all the computers for Air Canada had crashed so everything had to be done manually. It was chaos and pandemonium. Once I finally got up to the counter the guy was like, "There's no direction here, no one knows what to do." Hehe, good times.

So, I finally get my bags checked and proceed for the gate. The security line was pretty long, but it wasn't much of a hassle. I was planning on buying some candy and a magazine before getting on the plane when I notice the computer screen that says last call for my flight! I wasn't too worried, cause I knew our flight had to be delayed with all the computer problems. So I skip the candy and head for my gate. A little ways down I see another computer screen saying my flight is now closing!!! What??!? I couldn't totally believe it, but I didn't want to be stuck in the airport so I started to walk briskfully. Our gate was the last one, it took so long to get there. Upon arrival I notice a long queue, signalling to me that I didn't have to rush and I could have easily got some candy. There was a guy who ran all the way there and he was sweating so badly he took his shirt off.

Anyway, I get in line and as I get to the front the lady is like, "Do you have this paper?" which of course no one had given me. So me and a bunch of other people had to wait around while they got papers for us to fill out. Finally we get through that gate and now we're in the boarding area. I was so thirsty. It wasn't surprising to see an "Out of Order" sign on the only pop machine in our area. Another hour passed before they let us on the plane.

So now we're sitting on the plane and after about 30 mins the lady comes on the speaker and says, "We will be leaving shortly, sorry for all the delays." A couple seconds later the captain comes on, "If Peter Nielsen is on board, would he please make himself known to the flight attendants, paging Peter Nielsen." A couple minutes pass, "This is the final call for Peter Nielsen. If Peter Nielsen is on this plane connecting from another flight he needs to come speak to us right now. This is your last chance." A couple more minutes pass, "Attention folks, we need to take all the baggage off and sort through it before we can leave. We will be sitting here for about another 30 mins." Unbelievable. Turns out they put Peter's bags on our plane, but he wasn't even on it, so they had to go through the luggage to find his and take them off.

There were a few good things about the flight though. Everyone had a heck of a time getting their seats figured out cause they were just given random seats and so some seats were given out to more than one person. I am so glad I checked in online the night before because I actually got to pick the seat I wanted and it was by far the best seat in economy! 12A...Front row so I can stretch my legs out and have lots of room to get out if I needed to use the toilet...Window seat...Right by the toilet...Plus I had my own little tv set, which no one else got, they had to look at the big screen which isn't all that visible from certain seats. I got to see "The Illusionist" which I had wanted to see for awhile (I liked the Prestige better). And after the movie the captain said, "If you are on the left side of the plane you have a wonderful view of Comet McNaught." This is the best picture I could take before my battery died.

You can look at more pictures of it at

All in all the flight wasn't bad...but I was getting antsy to get home. Once we landed I noticed it was snowing a bit outside. That was unexpected. After going through customs and getting my bags I was so excited to meet my mom at the entrance and get out of there! But unfortunately, she was nowhere to be seen. I waited for about 15 mins then tried to call her on the payphone. Turns out she couldn't make it to the airport because the snow was just dumping, so she got Pastor Dave to pick me up. I hung up and walked around looking for him. Not there either! So I called 411 and got Dave's phone number, called him up, only to discover...Shane was actually going to be the one to pick me up. So, I hung up and walked around some more looking for Shane. Nothing! So I called 411 again and got Shane's phone number. Called up his house, and Janelle let me know that he was outside waiting for me! Finally!!! I went outside and there he was just coming around the corner. He had been circling around quite a few times.

But, my journeys didn't end there, because of the snow and the rush hour, it took us 45 mins to get home from YVR, a trip that normally takes 10 mins. But I made it, and I had an awesome sleep that night!

That was a long story. I hope I bored you as much as I was bored living it. This week I'll be posting more of my adventures in England so stay tuned...