Monday, August 08, 2005

London, Day 2: It's all about the anteaters 

We began our first full day in London with a nice walk to Harrods. I swear, it was like returning to the mothership. Not only is everything in the store (right down to the amazing Egyptian escalator--who even knew the Egyptians HAD escalators?!) just wonderful, but the staff is also so friendly. Come on, one look at us with our comfy shoes and rain jackets and fanny packs, and any idiot can tell that we are not exactly the stereotypical Harrods customer, but the lady at the information desk took a good 5 minutes with us. Rather than just handing us the booklet that is the store map, she went over it page by page circling things she thought might be of interest to us. Sure, like WE were going to buy something!

We spent most of our time in the toy department though, and as it turned out, we did make a couple of purchases. Apparently I am a sucker for an in-store demonstration, and the toy department is just one demo after another. How though, was I supposed to walk away without the magic lights that you can pull from people's ears, nose, bellybutton, etc.? Or the frisbee-yoyo thing that Annabelle wanted? Self control is for babies.

As we walked to Harrods and Annabelle continued to count Phantom ads, a fiendish plan took root in my brain. I at least had to make an attempt to get my baby a personal viewing of the masked man, so we made our way to the tkts booth in Leicester Square to see if there were any reasonably priced tickets for that evening's show. Unfortunately, all Phantom seats were "partial view," which is a polite way of saying "sitting behind a pillar, sucka!" No way was I signing up for that particular brand of torture, so I made a last-minute, executive decision and booked us into half-price tickets right in the middle of row 4 for that evening's showing of Les Miserables.

Little did I know that I was buying a different form of torture, as Mike moaned and whined the rest of the day. "Why do we have to go see some stupid show about the French revolution?! Can we scalp my ticket and let me go to the movies instead?!" It is a testament to my extreme patience that I refrained from whapping him over the head, but I knew that I would be able to complain about him here on my blog, so that gave me something pleasant to mull over while he was groaning.

After yet another lunch at Pret, we stopped at Lillywhites. Annabelle had inexplicably outgrown the shoes I bought her in Texas last September, so we needed to get her some new sneakers and FAST. Outside Lillywhites, Fred and Mike stopped to snap a picture in front of Mike's fave London retail outlet, the Virgin Megastore. Mike was all about the music and video games in London:

But I believe I promised you anteaters, didn't I? Last August, Annabelle purchased a small stuffed anteater in Detsky Mir, Russia's premiere toy store (located ironically enough right across from Lubyanka). She named him Snickers and has been all about the anteaters ever since. She plans to create a webpage dedicated to saving the noble anteater because, as she says, "They are endangered AND NOBODY IS DOING ANYTHING ABOUT IT!!!" (She has also decided that anteaters say "meep," but I'm not sure that this is based in any scientific research.) We even made an ill-fated trip to the zoo in Amsterdam last April where we had to settle for watching a sleeping anteater over closed-circuit TV.

Anyway, Annabelle schlepped Snickers the Russian anteater all over London last Monday so that he would be on hand when we visited his family in the London Zoo. Wouldn't you know it though? When we got to the outside anteater exhibit, we found . . . nothing. All was not lost, however, as THIS sleeping anteater at least had the decency to snooze behind a pane of glass. Here is Snickers checking in on his kin:

When the anteater swished her bushy tale and revealed a BABY ANTEATER, well, I thought we would all pee our collective pants. The baby had been born just a few weeks before. Here's a picture of Mama Anteater giving Baby Anteater a good sniff with her long nose:

Eventually, Baby Anteater convinced Mama Anteater to give up for good on her nap, so she got up to stroll around. Baby crawled up on her back, and I'm telling you, there is NOTHING cuter than a baby anteater (click the pic to watch a short Windows Media File showing off the extreme cuteness):

We wound up spending all of our zoo time admiring the anteaters and never regretted it for a minute. Annabelle was especially excited to find a stuffed anteater for sale at the gift shop as we raced through the pouring rain for the exit. (If you think it's easy to find stuffed anteaters, think again!)

Mike and Annabelle were thankful to take a taxi back to the hotel instead of the Tube (we were still in the early days of our vacation and a little nervous about exploding):

Once back at the hotel, Snickers and the newly acquired Kit Kat (are you seeing a pattern here?) got acquainted while we got ready for our show:

We had hoped to eat in a pub, but pubs tend not to allow kids in. It's the strangest thing, because people will TELL you that the pubs are kid friendly, but ha! They are so totally NOT. And it's a laugh, because--I'm sorry, every pub we went into (briefly, before being turned away) was way more like a restaurant than a bar. Coming from enlightened Germany where they don't care how close the kids sit to the beer swilling, it was a bit of a let down, especially as we wound up eating at TGIFriday's that night.

What to say about the show? Well, I sweated bullets for the first couple scenes of the first act, anguishing over whether or not Annabelle would enjoy it or if she would join Mike in his disdain. About 15 minutes into it though, she stage whispered, "This is SO GOOD!" and I was able to relax. At intermission Mike said, "Well, I feel like I should hate it after I made such a fuss, but it's pretty good, I guess." Can I whap him over the head now? Please?

you can give Mike a good whap on the head for me too! Les Mis has to be the best musical ever created! An almost spiritual experience! Glad you guys got to see it, but I am pea green with envy!
Anteaters are my favorite animals too. That nose! The baby was so cute. I will help Annabelle in her efforts to save them. And "meep" sounds just right!
Rory says anteaters say meep, but I think he might just be supporting Annabelle against grown-up opinions. That baby was so cute, however--we loved it!

Rory is also the owner of a stuffed anteater, although his is giant, and was a disappointment since what he wanted (at the time) was an armadillo. You think it's tough to find stuffed animal anteaters? Try stuffed animal armadillos!
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