Europe 1979 – 3 – Arrival in London

Castle Hotel with me waving out the window.
That’s me waving from the window!

I got off the plane at Heathrow airport in London. I looked for someone holding a sign for our tour company. And there he was. After gathering a number of us young tourists, we headed to our hotel.

Our hotel was named “Castle Hotel.” I remember it being a bit worn, as maybe the sign for its name suggests. Our room was okay, but right in the middle of it, there was a contraption on the wall that folded down into a shower. I had never seen anything like that before! I don’t remember if we had a bathroom in our room.

The sign on the corner of the building says, “Castletown Road W 14.” When I search for this on Google maps, I can’t seem to find the location exactly. I do find Castletown road, along with a building named “Kensington Luxury Apartments.” It doesn’t look exactly the same, but close. It looks like a nice area now.

Somewhere between the airport and the Castle Hotel, I met Diane Stevens. And we just clicked. She was from Florida, maybe Boca Raton. Maybe not. She had a new boyfriend that she was excited about. His name may have been Garland. Or Gunther. Oh, it is tough to remember details from 42 plus years ago!

Diane and I became fast friends. We were told that our group would not be doing any activities until the next day as we were waiting for everyone to arrive. It was early in the afternoon, and even though we were tired from our flight, Diane and I set out to explore.

We took the tube to Buckingham Palace. I’d never been on a subway before, but it was easy to use. Just follow the colors on the map. We were able to watch the “Changing of the Guards” at Buckingham Palace. I could hardly believe I was in London.

Here’s a few photos from our afternoon in London:

My new friend,
Diane Stevens
at Hyde Park
The Tube
A New Experience for Me
Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace.
Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace.
Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace.

With all the crowd, how did I get some of these pictures? I believe we stood up on the steps of the Queen Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace.

Me at the circle in front of Buckingham Palace
Queen Victoria Memorial with Big Ben in the distance.
That’s Big Ben in the Background

For all you young folk, before there were selfies, cameras had timers on them. That’s how you could get a picture with yourself in it. One would set the timer and then run to be in the picture. If you were fast enough, you made it.

Diane and I in front of Buckingham Palace
Busy street in London.

Diane asked me if I wanted to go to a play with her later that evening. She said some of her friends had highly recommended it. I said, “Sure!” I was going to the theatre in London. I had really arrived.

The play was one I had not heard of before. We took the Tube and found it easily. From what I can tell with Google research, we went to the Comedy Theater which is now the Harold Pinter Theatre.

After the show, Diane eagerly asked me, “Did you like it?” I wasn’t sure what I had just seen. I wasn’t sure if I liked it. I just didn’t know. But, wanting to be liked by new friend, I said, “Yes, it was great.” I don’t believe we ever talked about it again. Perhaps you’ve heard of the play we saw.

It was “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

Next up: Meeting the group and a bit more London

24 comments

  1. Fantastic read, Betty! I was smiling at every sentence. I loved your explanation to younger readers about how we did selfies back then. I enjoy your sense of humour and your playful writing style. BTW …. I wasn’t so sure about RHPS either – still not, lol. I remember feeling very rebellious and risqué in just watching it!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for your kind words! I am glad you enjoyed reading it. I had fun writing it. That was the only time I ever saw RHPS, but at least I can say I saw it in London. 🙂 Hope you have a great day!

      Liked by 2 people

    • I don’t know if Diane knew what the Rocky Horror show was about; I don’t remember her saying anything about the plot. Diane and I wrote letters for awhile after we got back, but then we drifted apart. I believe she ended up marrying Garland (or Gunther.) I’ve tried to find her on Facebook, but I haven’t been successful. I do have a few more ideas to try. I would like to reconnect with her; she was a nice person.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I just love this, Betty. Strange as it is, I can still experience that “feeling” of way back then. I was 21, turning 22 at the end of 1979. Magical times where we felt very little – if any – fear and had a capacity to run on little sleep and adrenaline rush after rush. I’ve never seen any of the sights you describe or show us in pictures. I’m pumped!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I know I had very little sleep when Diane and I ventured out, but that didn’t slow us down one bit. And I don’t remember having any fear being in new city, taking the tube, or going to a theatre at night with a girlfriend. I would still be adventurous now I think, but it would be with a lot more caution.
      And you are so right – those were magical times.

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  3. London and Heathrow–where else does it start? And taking the tube and heading out to a theatre on your own–you were very adventurous! When we were there, the guards did not come outside the gates to do their changing routine–must be the times we live in now?

    Liked by 1 person

    • According to Google, they have resumed the “Changing of the Guards.” I’m not sure when you were there, but apparently they took a break. We all know why. When I Google our hotel, it was located in a great spot. Both the theatre and Buckingham Palace were about 3 or 4 miles away. And I remember how easy it was to use the tube! Have a great weeek!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Lovely to remember all these things after such a long time and also with the pictures. when I first came to England, I stayed in South Kensington, close to where you started your tour. How funny you saw the Rocky Horror Picture show. I was 18 in 1979 and I think I saw it in a cinema somewhere some years later. I found it a bit odd, but the music was great. London with the Tube has always ben easy, I still love it now! Looking forward where you go next!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The RHPS is very odd! I think that is its appeal to its cult following. I don’t remember the names of the tube stations, but Kensington or South Kensington may very well have been one of them. I can still see that helpful diagram outside the tube. I am enjoying remembering this trip. I am glad you are along! Have a great day!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You beautifully describe the excitement of landing at Heathrow and your first time in London. I’ve been fortunate to visit the UK on several occasions — always beginning at Heathrow. I always feel that excitement! Many of my theatre excursions in London involved lining up for discount tickets for evening performances that were unsold and available at 50% off. It’s a special city.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Buckingham Palace, Changing of the Guard, Big Ben — so exciting! I hope to visit London someday. I’ve only passed through Heathrow to other destinations.

    The quality of your pictures looks good. It’s fun to see the old automobiles.

    I remember when The Rocky Horror Picture Show came out. My friends raved about it and would dress up in costumes to go to a midnight show. Being a responsible young man who worked most days, I never went. It was later in life when I finally saw it. Like you, I wasn’t sure what to think of it. Incidentally, Meat Loaf, who played in the film recently passed.

    Enjoyed the read. Have a great day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. I did notice the old automobiles, too. I decided to do minimal editing on the photos. I am just going to enhance the lighting a bit. Some goofs like the back of someone’s head (indicating how crowded it was) or a blur on the bottom when taking a photo with the timer, in my opinion, kind of add to the story. I’m do think the color and the clarity faded with time; I transferred them to digital only about 5 years ago. It’s fun to say I saw RHPS in London, but if I never see it again, I will still have lived a full life. 🙂 Enjoy your day!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. What a fantastic post, what a wonderful experience, and what beautiful memories. A once in a lifetime trip that you said “yes” to and went for it all. Riding the tube, the Rocky Horror Show, the Changing of the Guard, oh what you would have missed had you not had the courage to act on your dream. Good for you. I’m glad you had the time of your life. I’m looking for future posts. Have a great day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much! I am glad I found the courage to go, and I was lucky to have been with such a nice and fun group. There’s more adventures coming up, and I hope you enjoy reading about them. Hope you are doing okay. btw – It’s going to be 4 degrees tonight. Brrrr!

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  8. I envy you this experience. Being Scottish and Irish I wanted to make it to England, Ireland and Scotland. But somehow time has slipped by and now at 74 I’m really too old to make the trip. I will enjoy your pictures and articles.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Joanna. Thank you for following my blog! I am from St. Charles, Missouri, which is about 45 minutes north and west of downtown St. Louis. I’ve only been to England once, and that was a long time ago! I am glad you are here. Enjoy your day!

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