Monday, October 13, 2008

And then there's London

You know - what's there to say about London except that it's an awesome city and I was thrilled that I had a second chance to visit it. There's just something about a city that was founded by the Romans almost 2000 years ago that makes it so appealing to visit. It's that whole thing with having bars older that our country that is mind boggling.

But, I digress. I had an initial 36 hours in London after safely COD'ing off the ship - and was able to extend it by another day due to the timing being on a weekend and the ticket being easily moved. SWEET!

While I certainly was running around the ship and up and down ladders tons of times a day, it was nothing compared to the walking that we did in London. We started at our hotel in the Marble Arch area and walked down through Hyde park, next to the serpentine, through Kensington park, to Harrods, to Buckingham palace, then to Trafalgar Square (the long way through the parliment area and then Horse Guards), then over to the London Eye, back across the Thames to take more photos, then to Kings Cross (platform 9-3/4), back to the hotel for a quick stop and finally on a 2.5 hour London Walk pub crawl. I was exhausted and my feet were really sore. The next day, I went off on my own and it took me a bit to get going due to my feet still being extremely sore and reluctant to keep moving!

Since Joe and I had spent so much time here, I wasn't completely drawn to seeing all the sites again, so I headed off to explore more of the neighborhoods that Joe and I didn't wander around in last time. Of course, both mornings had to start with a criossant and cappuccino at Pret a Manger - our favorite chain in London. Mmmm. I digress.

I headed off to check out Alfridges (I think I'm spelling that wrong, but don't feel like checking) Antique market up in Marleybone (a little north of Marble Arch). I wandered up one of the major streets and was just drawn in by store after store. Very cool little places to check out.

It was fairly early, so there wasn't that much open yet....but, there as I was wandering along, I saw a book store that looked nice from the front and since I'm a book fiend, I thought it would be worth the stop.

Seriously, I was just floored - it was mainly a travel bookstore (name to be updated...eventually) and it was incredible. The Europe section took up about as much space as double the entire travel section of a normal big box bookstore. Just amazing. And, it was organized very nicely - with the travel writing pertaining to that country was right in that area - not somewhere separate. Just loved the store - I could have spent hours and hours in there.

But, I was on a mission to find the antiques flea market...and I succeeded, eventually. I did manage to get fairly lost though since my little guidebook map didn't quite have all the streets I needed for guidance. Ah, well - it was scenic. I saw the Regents Canal with all the canal boats, so that was interesting....

The flea market was cool - small and since there was a bus strike, a lot of the vendors weren't there yet. I was having a hard time with the prices for some of the things I did like, though, so I didn't spend too much time there.

My next stop was the Borough Market - Joe and I had done a London Walk pub crawlthrough the market at night and I had read lots of good stuff how it was a foodies dream. It didn't disappoint in the slightest. There were tons of boutique vendors there selling everything from eggs, to olives (probably 20 kinds and flavors), to hand crafted cheeses, to home churned butter, to....WHEW! I'm getting hungry just remembering it. And the best part was that everyone FREELY gave samples out. It was just amazing - I think I spent about an hour and a half just wandering around. I finally decided that I needed to get something to eat, so I had a killer grilled cheese sandwich with swiss cheese, leeks and garlic....mmmm.... the same stand was offering raclette which I had heard about but never seen before. Too cool - the swiss cheese was heated till melted and bubbly by a horizontal heater, then the entire wheel was scraped over some potatoes, gherkins and pearl onions. Looked too good. Then there were creme caramels in a little glass pot, eggs, more cheeses, baked goods....it was just wonderful!

From there, I did a tour of the New Globe and then wandered over to Tate Modern, the Millenium Bridge and St Pauls at dusk. It was all normal (and lovely) until St Pauls where there was a movie taping! Saw Robert Downey Jr. and Guy Ritchie there.....was at a loss for what it was until I spied the chairs with "Sherlock Holmes" on them! Pretty cool - I watched for about an hour all the various takes.

The rest of the time was a blur - one more London walk (Haunted London - fairly disappointing), Portabello Road Market the next AM and then a little stroll around Regents park. Made for a very lovely day.

And, I'm home again till this Sunday when I'm off to DC for my last PMC class - woohoo!



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