Being a tourist with my family in London
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Valeriano Avila (The Freeman) - May 14, 2019 - 12:00am

LONDON, England — We arrived at Heathrow Airport in London at 7:30 p.m. and it took more than an hour to clear the super-crowded immigration booths. From there we went to Kensington where we stayed in a three-story Airbnb flat, which was very cozy and comfortable. It was almost like we have been living in London. It is the new travelers’ way of getting rooms rather than in a least expensive hotel. Just make sure that your Airbnb is close to a grocery or 7-Eleven outlet so you can get your breakfast, or bread and water.

Thankfully our Airbnb is only a ten-minute walk to the subway station which many people who have visited London believe is one of the most extensive subway systems in the world, just like the subway of New York City. The beauty this time is that you can get digital tickets and simply pass your plastic ticket on top of the turnstile and you’re inside the subway. Hopefully, someday Metro Cebu will have a similar system for our mass transit.

While I’ve been to London three times already, it was the first time for me to take the subway as I was on vacation with my family. Rather than get a guided tour of the City of London, we took the hop-on/hop-off tour that can literally tour you around the city and you can simply go down when you see different attractions line Buckingham Palace. Once you are done, you just wait 15 minutes for the next bus to arrive and proceed for instance to another attraction like St. Paul’s Cathedral. Once your bus tour has ended, just take the same bus that brings you close to the subway station and take a ride home.

One thing that differentiates London from other major cities is their mini-park. We’re talking about 200-square-meter greenery with grass and a few trees to provide shade. I don’t know why we can’t do this in Cebu. Our problem lies upon the reality that sidewalk vendors literally take over what little square meter of land is available because other vendors might get that piece of property ahead of them.

Incidentally, when we lined up for the immigration processing at Heathrow we met many Filipino seamen who worked with the Queen Elizabeth of the Cunard Line. This particular Piney Maritime crew takes on the New York City to Southampton route, the same route that the famous S.S. Titanic used to take. Honestly, I thought this form of travel had become obsolete. I learned that it takes seven days for the Queen Elizabeth to sail from New York to Southampton. I was told that their ship’s crew comprised of 50% Filipinos. Two years ago, we took a Mediterranean cruise and of the 1,400 crew around 50% were Filipinos. Just imagine if Pres. Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte ordered Filipino mariners to stop working on foreign vessels, there would be a serious shortage of crew for all these vessels.

As we got into Westminster Palace, I was disappointed to see that the famous Big Ben was wrapped in construction scaffolding. The world-famous clock could not be seen right now. So much for London at this time. Later in the week I will report to you the other things we did.

***

With the midterm elections practically over, you can say that this piece of news is practically moot and academic, but last Friday afternoon I learned that our good friend, Rep. Gwen F. Garcia was formally cleared by the Court of Appeals in the infamous Balili case. In an 18-page decision penned by Associate Justice Gabriel Ingles, the five Capitol officials who were charged with Garcia were also cleared. They are former Provincial Board member Juan Bolo, provincial assessor Anthony Sususco, provincial treasurer Roy Salubre, and provincial engineer Eulogio Pelayre, who were all members of the Provincial Appraisal Committee; and former provincial budget officer Emme Gingoyon.

I know that the midterm elections happened yesterday, but since I’m out of the country, I could not get the latest reports, although London has many outlets with free wi-fi. But news like this travels fast and I’m positive it would have great results in the outcome of the gubernatorial elections. But I will just wait until the news of the results of the election would become public then we will comment on them.

vsbobita@gmail.com

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