Sunday, August 07, 2005

London: The first day 

OK, I'll admit it. If we hadn't already paid for the plane tickets and the hotel room and the Lion King tickets, I would have been tempted to skip London this time around. But we did go, and it felt pleasingly defiant to not let the terrorists ruin our vacation.

We chose to journey into London from Stansted Airport by the Stansted Express. They sold the roundtrip rail tickets on the plane shortly before landing, and I think the cost for all 4 of us was somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 euro. We got off the train at the Seven Sisters station and continued on by subway to the hotel.

When we arrived at the Holiday Inn Mayfair, Fred and I were pleasantly surprised to realize that it was the same hotel he and I had stayed at 16 years ago when we were dating. Our room wasn't ready yet, so we left our bags with the concierge and set off on foot toward Picadilly Circus. We were starving, so we stopped in at Pret a Manger and fell in love.

Pret is just the most amazing sandwich shop. All of the sandwiches are handmade daily at the individual restaurants with mostly organic ingredients. We wound up eating at a Pret almost every day we were in London, which wasn't hard to do, as there is one on almost every corner.

After lunch we headed toward the river. Annabelle was counting ads for Phantom of the Opera, which were everywhere--on busses, in Tube stations. So you can imagine her delight when we walked past Her Majesty's Theatre, home of the real thing:

I couldn't resist snapping a shot of this little guy as we walked toward Big Ben and Parliament. Apparently, his parents never got the memo about not standing out as Americans:

We stopped along the way to see how many clowns you can stuff into a phone booth. (It turns out 3 fit fairly well.)

Pellet and Cheezer were very impressed with the majesty of Big Ben:

We walked through the park to Buckingham Palace, and I dressed the rodents in their special London clothes. Pellet assumed the identity of a palace guard, while Cheeser got in touch with his inner Queen Victoria:

Here is Cheeser, posing at the Victoria monument:

Meanwhile, Pellet took his guard duties very seriously:

We walked back to the hotel and got checked into our room before setting out in search of dinner, which was almost a disaster. We had taken the kids to the Hard Rock Cafe in Heidelberg for Mike's birthday a couple weeks earlier, where we were all disappointed to learn that it's not a "real" Hard Rock. So we had been promising him a do-over in London, and the London Hard Rock Cafe was just down the street from our hotel. It would have been perfect except that they had had a terrible fire several weeks before, and they won't be serving anything but soft drinks and ice cream until sometime in October.

We spent a while wallowing in our despair (some of us handled it better than others, but I'll not name names) before winding up at the tea room Richoux on Piccadilly for a hundred bucks worth of fish and chips. Disaster averted!

Richoux! I'd forgotten its name or I would have told you to go there, although not for fish and chips. It does the most amazing English tea--scones and clotted cream and jam, the kind of thing that lives only in old British murder mysteries. I've eaten there with my mother and sister more than once!
Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?