Since then, fifteen years ago, I have returned to that same village three times. Each time my friends are changed in an instant from the way they were the last time I saw them to their present state. Like two photographs. Then and now. I notice different things too. I see how different I am from them. I see how what I believe in separates me from them. I notice the prices on food. I decide whether or not the village is child friendly. I see the changes in the land and I am sad. I know that when I return in five or ten years many things will be gone, erased, and forgotten. And I know that the people of that village won't notice or care. Only my eyes notice these things, because I am an outsider.
I am thirty. For some I am old, for some I am young. For some I am just right. Whatever way you see it, this trip to my village in Spain has made me old. I look back with nostalgia to the way things were, there. There is, however, no going back. I can visit as much or as often as I like but it will never be the same.
There was a nice little restaurant in a neighboring building. I felt like I was going to the Prancing Pony in Lord of the Rings. It was built in dark red brick and I think it even had a wooden sign, you know the kind that hang down and swing back and forth. An added perk was the after dinner mint they left with the bill. Twilight. A nice way to remind me to not forget about my beloved Edward. (I know I'm lame.)
Another great thing about the hotel was that it was surrounded by nature. A gaggle of quite aggressive geese by the front pond and a lovely wood to the rear of the Inn. The kids woke up before dawn so I decided we'd go out for a little exploring. Everything outside was covered in a thin layer of sparkly ice. It was quiet and almost magical. Our footsteps were muffled by the decomposing leaves and cold soil. To make a long story short, it's a great hotel for kids if you like to be outdoors. Where else can you explore the outdoors in London?
Once we had a delightful breakfast, bacon bacon bacon, we got shuttled back to the airport, stuck our luggage in a locker which cost us 6.50 per piece, and caught a train to Victoria Station.Here's me and Cinci on the train. As you can see, he's snacking on a tasty brochure we picked up at the Premier Inn. It had a picture of Thomas the Tank Engine on it so he had to have it. As you will see, this brochure is a lifesaver.
Here we are in front of the Natural History Museum. It's a gorgeous building and it was full on the day we went. Saturday. Of course. It was also free. We went straight for the dinosaur exhibit. We waited in a long line to see the animatronic dinosaurs. The T-Rex was quite a crowd drawer. Unfortunately, one of our children was terrified of the creature. There was no other way around the predator. We had to walk by it. We eventually got through without any tears. If you ever go, I suggest you go on a weekday. It is still free. They have wonderful exhibits and the staff try to engage the kids in the hallways with skulls and such.
Here is a display of what scientists used to think dinosaurs looked like. I thought they looked sort of like an elementary school child's clay project. We certainly have come a long way. I think. Maybe we're still really off.
Here is Jonathan and Cinci in front of some large creatures. If you look closely in Cinci's right hand you can see the same brochure from the hotel.
After the museum we took a taxi back to Victoria Station, grabbed lunch at McDonald's, and caught our train back to Gatwick airport.
Our taxi ride. (Cinci is snacking again.)
Our lunch at McDonald's.
"Prefers his brochure over nuggets and fries? Singular."
Train ride back to the airport. Really nice trains by the way.
Yes, this was a long post and only includes one day of our trip. I will not be so detailed in my next post. Thanks for reading.