"When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford."
from Boswell's Life of Johnson
I love London. It's quiet and so easy to get around. People are helpful. Shopping is a pleasure. The list goes on and on...
Our first stop was the Victoria and Albert Museum. It was kind of a let down when I found out the textile galleries were closed down for lack of staffing. A trip to the cafe for tea and scones softened the blow. I then walked down the street to Harrods. My personal Mecca. Especially the food halls.
Food, glorious food!
After the Harrod's experience, I started the 30-minute walk to the hotel. It was a straightforward route throuh Hyde Park, which is contiguous with Kensington Gardens. It was a mild afternoon, and I love to walk, so I was enjoying the experience. Dusk was falling and I noticed that there really wasn't much going on in the park which, on the walk to the museum had been somewhat populated by walkers. I reached Lancaster gate and noticed a padlock the size of a dinnerplate preventing my exit. On to the next gate. Same deal. And the next. At this point, although it was cool, I was starting to sweat. I was also lugging some parcels. As I stood by the gate, a skateboarder whizzed by. "Hey!" I yelped. "Help me!" The 20-ish guy grins at me and says "You are America". "Yes", I reply. "How do I get out of here?!??!" The kid is barely containing his mirth and says, "You have to climb the fence." I survey the situation and take note of the wrought iron fence. It is not all that high, but it has some very menacing spikes on the top. At this point I'm mentally calculating whether I can scale the thing before a crowd gathers to witness my dilemma. And take pictures. Looking at my face, the guy can no longer keep from laughing. "There's a revolving gate on the corner" he tells me. "A five minute walk". An so I trod on. When I reached the gate, I saw a sign that noted in teeney-tiny print that the park closed at dusk. Too late too smart. I was safe and sound in the hotel not much later.
The next day we took a tour of London. The usual touristy places. Our guide The Tower of London was Moira Cameron, the first ever female beefeater. We were lucky to take a walk through the historic Chapel Royal of St. Peter ad Vincula (St. Peter in Chains). It is the oldest chapel royal in England. In this little chapel most of those who died on Tower Hill and six of the seven executed on Tower Green, were laid to rest under flagstones without ceremony. They include three queens of England: Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard, and Lady Jane Grey. Elizabeth Ist supposed suitor, Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex was also buried there.
I'm kind of sceptical as to whether or not the "Crown Jewels" on display are real or not. Cousin Bridget is certain that they are replicas.
After the Tower, we took a cruise on the Thames. It was a crisp, sunny day. I wasn't even tempted to go on the Eye.
We also toured St. Paul's Catherdral. At that point we were pretty giddy and couldn't manage climbing up to the dome. I did have the best slice of fruitcake I've ever had in my live in the cafe under the church.
Our last day in London was reserved for shopping. I was lucky enough to hit a Cass Art sale and picked up a lifetime supply of watercolor supplies. Our trip home was exhausting - 30 hours dor-to-door. We are both nursing our post-trip (post-airplane?) colds. I think it will be a while befor I take another trip.