DAY 3, Fri:
By now we have both adjusting to “London time”. After making coffee while dressing, we went downstairs to the Chelsea Brasserie restaurant adjacent to the Sloane Square. Enjoyed a full English breakfast for £7.50, not cheap but for a French brasserie in Chelsea the cost was reasonable. However, it was delicious and filling; good start to a fresh day.
We then crossed the road & jumped on the District line to the Tower of London. We immediately passed any crowds gathering around the Beefeaters and headed to the Crown Jewels. Daughter kept going back on the conveyor belt that takes you past the jewels again and again. I had to drag her away, and OMG, I forgot how amazing they were! Not too often do you see such treasures; and a 500+ caret diamond! We then backtracked and joined the Beefeater guided tour at the entrance. Our guide was extremely informative, and very funny; everyone enjoyed this tour and he was tipped handsomely. We then discovered all the nooks and crannies on our own using the audio guides. By now we also have learned our lesson, and make notes of “the loo” locations, and just routinely visit like we were toddlers!
We snapped great pictures of Tower Bridge and other views along the Thames, and continued to buy some souvenirs for the grandchildren. Also by now we are searching out all the different flavors of “crisps” as part of our cultural experience! Finally we had to return to the hotel to meet up with my DH (who had flown in from business) as he was not answering his phone. We found him sitting “al fresco” at the brasserie, with a Blackberry not working. After gathering him up, we walked him to the tube station like 2 travel pros and got a card for him. At which point, we went right back on the tube to the Thames embankment to just enjoy being in London together.
We had so enjoyed the Chelsea Brasserie earlier that we decided on pre-theater dinner there as we headed to the Royal Court just across the street. What a wonderful meal, pricey but wonderful! We then walked over to the theater and saw "Pain and the Itch". The British cast was fantastic, all doing wonderful accents for an American comedy. So funny, had us in stitches and laughing out loud so many times! Matthew Macfadyen (Mr. Darcy in Pride & Prejudice) was the star, and who would think so funny. He really was so good and my daughter met him later on. He knew she was nervous and really went out of his way to be nice. I took a picture of them, and now he's her new hero. After he was so nice to her, I think he's now one of my favorites too!
DAY 4, Sat:
Up and out to Camden Market via the tube. Funky place, lots of stalls and sidewalk shops. Shopped a bit; favorite place being a little shop with the designer there—in silk PJ's. Quite a character! Wonderful food stalls in the “Stables” but, unfortunately, we weren’t hungry. We finally ate lunch at a pub right on Camden Canal, and then headed back to London. Enjoyed this far more than previous visits to Portobello Road, and would recommend Camden Market as a must do for a Saturday morning. Well, we had an interesting moment when switching from the Northern the train. The door closed trapping me inside, and the button would not reopen the door. All I could do was wave good-by to my family as I left them on the platform! Good thing they waited for me, and I was back to them on the 2nd train. I was so worried they would try to come to me, but since they were at the correct station, it was up to me. Never did I feel so helpless with their cell phone not working! As I feared, my daughter’s first instinct had been to hop on the tube to get to me, but luckily, her Dad talked her into giving me a chance to double back AND it was a good thing that by that time I was familiar enough with the underground not to panic.
We then got off at Westminster and went on the London Eye, walked down the embankment called Jubilee Walkway, and crossed Millennium Bridge to St. Paul's before it closed. Just so satisfying walking by and seeing you're next to National Theater, or the Globe, or just seeing Big Ben in the background! Pinch time!
We went to British Museum next, and had a wonderful time examining the Elgin Marbles. More wonderful, actually since our 18 y/o was in Athens at that very moment with a high school group and I had visions of her standing at the Parthenon while we enjoyed the controversial sculptured frescos stolen (err, I mean, safeguarded) from there.
Afterwards, since we didn’t arrive via the underground, we couldn't find the tube station, so we opted to take the #11 bus back to Sloane Square, which NEVER came. Every other bus came and went a number of times, and finally we jumped on a Waterloo Bus, and then 2 tube rides later we were finally at hotel. Round about way to get home, but a route we were now familiar with. Amanda napped, while we went down the road to a Paul’s patisserie on Kings Rd and had tea.
Quickly dressed for theater, and saw Orlando Bloom in "In Celebration". He was not the star and was just OK, one of another young actor actually was really very good and carried the show, and I was glad OB did not take a star bow. The play, however, is not the greatest and a big disappointment. Afterwards it was pandemonium as everyone waited for Orlando, and other passers- by joined the throng. Daughter snapped a picture as he entered his limo. We then walked up the street had great a nice late dinner at "The Ivy" and taxied back to hotel.