SUNDAY, MARCH 10
The Berkshire residents among our 2013 London Tour patrons woke up Friday morning, March 8th to 10 inches of fresh snow. By Saturday afternoon as we boarded the bus at Elms College in Chicopee it was close to 60 degrees with nary a flake in sight. We arrived in London to a cold snap that found the temperatures hovering in the low 30’s. Such are the vagaries of March weather.
In a speed record for our 9 London Tours, we departed Elms College at 2:10pm and at 4:10, everyone had checked in at the Virgin Atlantic counter at Logan airport and were on the way to Security! In London, the expedited check-in at the Lancaster Hotel in London saw everyone on the way to their rooms in under 15 minutes — a boon to a group of slightly weary overnight travelers. After a lovely breakfast, everyone retired for a spot of horizontal time.
The hardier souls braved brisk winds for a quick afternoon stroll in Hyde Park which is directly across Bayswater Road from the Lancaster. In fact, the Park Room where we have breakfast every morning, looks out directly on the Italian Water Gardens in the park. Some of us followed our walks with a warm beverage at the Bathurst Deli, a charming French cafe across the street from the hotel. The waitstaff is friendly, the wine list a surprising addition to the more expected lattes, espressos, etc, and seating is a slightly eccentric collection of antiques. A delight to revisit year after year.
Sunday closed, as always with our Welcome Banquet at the Lancaster. The three course feast was beautifully prepared and presented, a scrumptious setting for making new acquaintances or renewing old friendships. The dessert course was accompanied by a Welcome Greeting from CTC Board Chair Cipora Brown and some reminders from Board Member Gail Perlman. The evening came to a close with an exhortation from CTC Artistic Director Byam Stevens to reawaken our sense of Wonder. He used as an example the plane journey — it is typical of the sophisticated traveler to decry the airline cuisine, the unruly children, lines at security, etc. What is lost is the true essence of the event — that we step into a metal tube and as if passing through a magic window, six hours later step off the tube on another continent. This journey, which a hundred years ago took a week (if you didn’t hit an iceberg), and 150 years ago took better than a month by sail, we accomplished overnight. So, encouraged to put aside our sophisticated selves and enjoy fresh perspectives, we look forward to the adventures which begin tomorrow.