Saturday, September 29, 2012

In Which We Arrive in London

The Chelsea Physic Garden, London
The perfect place to refresh one's spirit after
hours on an airplane, or anytime really
As this is the last weekend of my British Month, I have made a bold decision to add the rest of the day-to-day account of a trip that my mother and I took to London in September 2002. The account, based on the journal that I kept, was written for a family friend who was going to be visiting England six months or so after we were there.

Last weekend I posted from the end of the journey as the dates corresponded; this is from the beginning of the trip. 

You will see that it is quite bookish. Here goes:

Wednesday, 11 September 2002

We arrived at Lime Tree Hotel on Ebury Street about noon. We caught a direct train from Gatwick to Victoria Station and walked the few blocks to the hotel. A charming and convenient location in Belgravia. We had rooms on the ground floor (as I had requested) that overlooked the back garden full of rose bushes. So very British, don't you think?

After checking in and putting up our feet for a few moments, we walked south toward the Thames past the Royal Hospital to spend time at the Chelsea Physic Garden. It was founded in 1673. We had our first English tea there and strolled the gravel paths amongst plants and flowers that were intended to heal. A very quiet time. It was a fine place to catch our breath after breathing recycled air on the airplane for hours.

Dinner at Ebury Wine Bar & Restaurant next door to the hotel. It was the first place I had eaten dinner 20 years ago when I was in London. I stayed on the very same street. As a matter of coincidence, the couple who now owned the Lime Tree Hotel had owned Ebury House when I stayed at that fine establishment in September 1982.

Lime Tree Hotel
Ebury Street, London

Thursday 12 September 2002

Took the Big Bus Tour of the city. The company's many routes and live-guide talks proved to be a good way to get our bearings and to see the Big Picture. We sat on the top of red double-decker buses and had a grand time. Unfortunately, that was the day we took a lot of photos with the camera that didn't have any film in it. Woe!

Friday 13 September 2002

Started out at the Tower of London. Took the tour with a colorful Beefeater (bloody history made funny for the tourists). Oohed and aahed over the Crown Jewels. A spin through the gift shop (we each bought T of L souvenir leather bookmarks). We passed on the White Tower which contains armor and weapons. I took Mom's photo with one of the guards dressed in full regalia. 

We had a picnic lunch on a bench overlooking the Thames and Tower Bridge. Took a boat ride up the Thames to Westminster then  the underground ("Mind the Gap") back to St. Paul's Cathedral. (A bit of backtracking, but the boat ride was a spur of the moment idea.) St. Paul's is gorgeous. We didn't go downstairs to the Crypt. It was getting late and we still had to visit Dr. Samuel Johnson's house which is tucked away on Gough Square. From St. Paul's, signs directing us were well marked. Dr. Johnson, of course, is the fellow who compiled the first English dictionary in this very house. 

Saturday 14 September 2002

The British Museum. Hours spent looking at Elgin Marbles, Egyptian stuff, and the Rosetta Stone. The best part was sitting in the famous Reading Room with its spectacular dome and books, books, books all pertaining to the museum's collection. Lots of famous people have used this very room. Great gift shop so allow time to browse through it. 

Reading Room
British Museum

Sunday 15 September 2002

We walked over to Sloanes Square Underground Station and met our guide for a London Walk. These are such fun. There are tons of them covering all areas of the city. We spent two hours or so on the tour walking the streets and neighborhoods around our hotel. Very ritzy area. Margaret Thatcher (Dame) lives just a few streets over from our hotel. We didn't see her but we did see her house and the guard fellow who stands watch. Saw the house where "Upstairs/Downstairs" was filmed and also Noel Coward's home which is on Gerald Road in Belgravia. 

Later, we found our way to Piccadilly Circus and had lunch. Window shopped on Regent Street (no traffic as there was a street fair going on). Then we enjoyed the farce - "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare - Abridged" - which was wacky and irreverent. The Criterion Theatre is right at Piccadilly Circus. A great old, small theatre.

Tomorrow 16 September through 19 September - The British Library, Brighton, Bookshops, and Buckingham Palace.

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