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Archive for the ‘Londontown’ Category

Londres

This past weekend I was lucky enough to hop up to London and see my Dad, who was there on business.  With no classes on Monday (it was a bank holiday in Barcelona), I arrived on Saturday and stayed ’til Tuesday morning.


Except for my 8-hour blitz at the start of this journey, I had never been to London or as the Spaniards call it, Londres, or as Kanye (he of the “Im’ma let you finish Taylor, but Beyonce had the best video of ALL TIME!) calls it, Londontown. Despite the nippy weather, I felt a sense of comfort being over there.  And, yes, that probably had something to do with the shared language and the fact that I was with my Dad, but I immediately took a liking to it.  Unfortunately after spending the interminable amount of time amongst the two airbuses-worth of people coming in from Lahore at Customs, I didn’t make it to the hotel until early evening, so I had to scrap my original plan to go to Harrod’s (yes, woe is me).  Dad and I had a great English dinner at a very pretty,  traditional-looking (re: oak-paneling, pianist in the corner, waiters in jackets and ties) restaurant, Simpsons-in-the-Strand.  We had some good English roast beef that came with Yorkshire Pudding, Savoy cabbage, and roast potatoes.  We had an amazing sampler of desserts later on, including “treacle pudding,” which is a sponge cake with a tasty carmelized sugar sauce on top.  

***

The next day we went on one of those super-touristy hop-on/hop-off bus tours, but it was a good way to see the city.  Our tour guide was nice and had a penchant for cars (that’s actually an understatement…he was obsessed!  He’d point out all of the luxury car dealerships…”Look to the right, it’s the Bentley dealership!”).  We decided that we’d stay for the entire tour and then get back on later and actually get off and explore.  After the tour, we went to the Brown’s Hotel for a lovely English tea, replete with the requisite scones, clotted cream, and strawberry preserves, tea sandwiches (my favorite!) and pastries.  I left thoroughly stuffed…especially after they kept refilling our plates of scones and sandwiches after we’d finish with them.

Then we ambled our way along the Thames to try and see Parliament, Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey.  Unfortunately as it was a Sunday, Westminster Abbey was closed to tourists (though they did have Sunday services) as was Parliament.  We did see several Green Peace-ers had managed to climb up to the Parliament roof protesting, I suppose, inaction by Parliament towards the environment.  Then Dad and I had the genius idea that we’d walk to the Tower of London (which we knew was open)…it took a long, long time.  Really long.  It actually was a pleasant walk except for the fact that Dad was exhausted from jetlag and we arrived at the Tower at 5:01 when the last admission was at 5:00.  We were one minute late.  And we could not buy a damn ticket.  So, I took a photo of a Beefeater (see below) and we called it a day.

***

On my last day in London I was on my own as Dad had a business meeting. My original hope was that I’d have seen all of the touristy things the day before and then use my final day to wander around cool neighborhoods and try to explore more ‘local flavor’ as they say.  That didn’t happen seeing as I wasn’t able to go inside many of the Big Things the day before.  So, like a madwoman, I dashed around the city from 9 am until 8 pm, with only a 20 min stop for lunch.  Here’s what I managed:

-Went to Westminster Abbey when it opened and after trying in vain to find the plaque of a distant ancestor (or so we think) buried there, Lord Edward Bulwer Lytton (he who coined the phrase “’twas a dark and stormy night”) in Poet’s Corner, I stumbled upon it (fate!) just as I was about to leave

-Saw the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace

-Finally (!) made it to see the tower…saw the Crown Jewels but found the old archival video footage of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation more interesting

-Went to the Tate and saw an interesting (and at-times X-rated) pop art exhibit with works by Andy Warhol (including funny Andy Warhol TV videos from the ’80s as well as his guest appearances on Love Boat!), Damien Hirst, Keith Haring and Jeffrey Koons among others

-Walked around Notting Hill for a bit

-Made it to Harrod’s and had a coconut cupcake in their Food Emporium

After my blitz, Dad and I had a delicious Indian dinner at a restaurant called Gaylord India (there are so many Indian restaurants with that name!).  As much as I do love Spanish tapas, I had been craving some good ethnic food so Indian really hit the spot (and the Brits aren’t know for having a standout local gastronomy anyway)…

Then to cap my last night I had G&Ts with Jackie (my friend who lives in London and whom I saw at the start of all this craziness) and traded stories about living overseas.  

It was a great trip, and I felt like I didn’t nearly scratch the surface of all that London has to offer, so I hope to go back sometime soon!

Pictures below

 

Parliament, Big Ben and the Thames

Parliament, Big Ben and the Thames

St. Paul's Cathedral

St. Paul's Cathedral

 

St. Jame's Palace and the Union Jack

St. Jame's Palace and the Union Jack

A Bobby! Checking his cellphone!

A Bobby! Checking his cellphone!

IMG_0810

The Tower Bridge

The Tower Bridge

The Tower of London...it's looks so pleasant to have been the sight of many a beheading!

The Tower of London...it's looks too pleasant to have been the sight of many a beheading!

A Beefeater (or "yeoman of the guard" as I learned they're actually known)

A Beefeater (or "yeoman of the guard" as I learned they're actually known)

The London Eye

The London Eye

Westminster Abbey...home to my ancestor, Lord Lytton :)

Westminster Abbey...home to my ancestor, Lord Lytton 🙂

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

The Changing of the Guard

The Changing of the Guard

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