***Ooops! I thought I published this post long ago. Apparently I never clicked that button! Enjoy***
I walked approximately 6 miles yesterday. That is if my unscientific scrap of paper cut to map scale measurement tool is accurate.
Let me tell you my calves, toes, arches, knees, and maybe even toe nails felt every mile this morning. My first steps out of bed were excruciating. I knew I needed to push through the pain for one more day in London.
Matt was going to meet his colleague for coffee. I needed something more substantial to recharge my batteries from yesterday. The great thing about one of our favorite restaurants in the UK, Pret A Manger, is that they are never far away. I walked down by the Holborn station and cozied up to the window for some porridge (Proper Porridge that is) and a latte.
Numero uno on today's list was Kensington Palace. Why, you ask? Well it's the soon to be permanent residence of William and Kate. I had to make sure it was going to be an acceptable location for them :) Aside from them Princess Diana and Queen Victoria formerly lived here as well.
Matt and I visited Kensington Palace on our first trip to London back in 2005. It has been closed for a bit for renovations in part due to the Queen's Jubilee in June. Yesterday was the palace's grand re-opening, so I was happy that we were in town for it. I took the tube out to Kensington and walked my way to the palace. I was quite giddy waiting for the palace to open. I have such fond memories of the rooms and the history in each one.
|This is the gate that was flooded with flowers after Diana's death|
|The side entrance - Which window is Will & Kate's?|
London was experiencing a stretch of amazing weather. As you can see in the photo above, the clouds were on a holiday, too.
According to the lady at the front door, the renovation brought on changes to the way one tours the palace. Instead of reading information from posters, each room is hosted by an expert staff member that will tell you about the room and answer any questions. Sounds good to me since I was dying to talk to someone after touring most of yesterday by myself. My giddiness soon turned to disappointment. The tour of the palace was terrible. A twelve million pound price tag for renovations was not worth it. They tried to make the palace into a fairy tale theme, the old castle was just lovely the way it was. The rooms were not staged as the past; the renovation made them into quite creepy scenes. One of the rooms had all these little chairs and you had to sit in the window seat to hear "whispers" from the speakers. I could not even tell the purpose of the room. I kept looking for the expert staff members, but many of the rooms were empty.
|These cutout figures lined the stairwell. They did not add anything to the palace.|
The section of the palace devoted to Queen Victoria's artifacts was tastefully done. However, her bedroom was disappointing. For preservation purposes the lighting is extremely dim. The renovation brought in some back-lit shadow boxes that made it difficult to see anything.
London has had one other Diamond Jubilee in their history . This is a replica of the statue that overlooks the lake in Kensington Garden.
I will say that the views outside of the palace windows are great.
|Kensington Garden and Queen Victoria statue|
I made my way to the gift shop to buy my commemorative Diamond Jubilee pill box to go along with my collection from Charles & Camilla's wedding and Will & Kate's nuptials. *Since coming home I've checked the reviews on Trip Advisor and I am not the only one disappointed in the renovation. It has over 100 terrible reviews - one of them is mine.
I could not waste the gorgeous day riding the tube. I walked through Kensington Garden toward the Knightsbridge neighborhood.
|The Albert Memorial commissioned by Queen Victoria after his death|
Across the street from the Albert Memorial is the Royal Albert Hall, another Queen Victoria creation.
Had I walked around front of this building, I might have seen some movie stars. I found out later that tonight was the London premiere for the re-release of Titanic. I guarantee I would have at least seen some red carpet, if not Kate Winslet.
A few more blocks down the road is Harrods. I spent a few hours meandering the departments and food halls.
I will admit, I thought I could cut through a neighborhood and get to Harrods. I quickly found that I was wrong. I forgot that London neighborhoods are usually comprised of little enclaves with private parks and lots of gates. The streets were deserted, but I was not scared for my safety as this was a pretty swanky neighborhood. I was starting to panic that I might never find the way out, but I spotted a man in business attire that looked like he was on his way somewhere important; I hoped he wasn't on his way to his house. Thankfully he zipped through a secret archway, and we were back to retail civilization.
My feet were done. They did not want to walk any further. Thankfully there is a tube stop right outside of Harrods. I hobbled back to our hotel and ate a sandwich I grabbed along the way. After a short rest I decided to go back to The British Museum. Matt's delirious state a few days ago cut our first visit short. I am so glad I went back; we missed a lot, and I got to explore an exhibit that awed me then.
I made my way back to the Rosetta Stone for a photo. The Enlightenment Gallery shows the progression of the museum's collection, starting from 1680. The artifacts are displayed from floor to ceiling and the number of books is more than anyone could read in a lifetime.
Matt finished with work for the day just as I finished at the museum. We rested for a few minutes and stepped out for dinner. We wanted to go back to the Italian restaurant we ate at a few days ago, but the line was out to the sidewalk. So, we settled on a small neighborhood spot that was just enough for our weary bones.
Tomorrow is a travel day. Back to real life.