Monday, April 9, 2012

Going Solo in London

Let me tell you I squeezed as much out of this day as I possibly could. 

One thing to remember about traveling to Europe is that the plugs are quite different.  We brought the necessary adapters, but Matt needed to take them to work with him.  That left me only one choice  - get up at 6:30 to use the adapter or take my chances.  I chose the former.  Getting up early certainly got me on my way.  Plus I had a surprise to look forward to this afternoon!

At home I drive everywhere – everywhere.  In London I am compelled to walk everywhere – everywhere.  Today was no exception.  I could have taken the Tube to my first destination, but the amazing weather was too good to miss. 

I made my way to Tralfagar Square to visit the lions, see the Olympics Countdown Clock, and the world’s smallest police station.  I then went to see Winston Churchill’s War Rooms based on several recommendations.  On my way there I passed Number 10 Downing Street, where the Prime Minister lives.  I thought about cutting through on Downing but soon realized that was not going to be possible upon seeing the number of police and gates.  

 Churchill’s War Rooms were a worthwhile trip.  During the war he created a home-base underground to run the war.  The rooms are just as they were left after the war.  The mannequins in some of the rooms are a tad creepy, and a few of them even startled me as I rounded a few corners. 

 Then I doubled back to Tralfagar Square and toured the National Gallery.  I was thrilled to tour the Impressionist gallery.  I got goosebumps when I saw Seurat’s Bathers at Asnières because we just saw A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte @ the Art Institute three weeks ago.  

Since I was in the area I decided to tour Westminster Abbey again.  The last time we were there it was so packed I did not get a good feeling for what it really contained.  Also I wanted to stand on the same floors as William and Katherine.  It was just about one year ago that I got up at 4AM to watch the amazing nuptials of these two beautiful people.  

Kate took this path to her William <3
 By this time it was almost 1:00 and I was starving.  I decided to ride the Underground back to our hotel (Piccadilly Line – Holborn) to rest my feet for a bit.  While on the ride I realized that the Piccadilly also goes up to King’s Cross Station.  If you remember Harry Potter walked through Platform 9 ¾ each fall to go to Hogwarts.  I read an article in the paper detailing the renovations that just finished at this station.  So I skipped Holborn and checked it out.

The funny thing is that during the renovations they moved the Platform 9 ¾  display nowhere near Platforms 9 or 10.  They put it right inside the front door of the station.  I suppose it’s better for people to tick that site off their list without needing to bother people who actually have business on Platform 9 or 10.  I grabbed some sushi (£5 – score!) from one of the new restaurants and watched the crowds from above.  

The highlight of my day was catching up with a colleague that lives in London.  She suggested that we meet at Covent Garden at 4:15.  Covent Garden is a hopping place. There is more shopping than I imagined, plus some flea market stalls.  Even with all the people around we found each other.  We walked and talked for almost two hours.  She took me to one of her favorite coffee places called Monmouth.  I have to say it was the best cup of coffee that I’ve ever had.  It was smooth and delicious.  The nursed the small size for almost 45 minutes - worth every minute.  Too bad there was not another Monmouth closer to Holborn.

@ Piccadilly Circus

We walked through Covent Garden, Tralfagar Square, Piccadilly Circus, and finally over to Buckingham Palace.  We ended our visit at Leciter Square so Melissa could hop the Underground back to her flat.

Admiralty Arch on the way to Buckingham Palace
After we parted ways I window-shopped on Regent Street.  I also had to pee and bathrooms are a difficult to come by so I went into the biggest store I could find, Hamley’s Toy Shop.  After taking care of business I walked back to the escalator who did I see, William and Kate!

Oh yes I did.

Made out of Legos that is.  And the Queen and her Corgi.

Such a great day.

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