20 November 2007

London Weekend

Because we have been to London before we decided to have a relaxing weekend. There was none of the pressure of must see "this, this and that." We've seen the Must-See's already.

We started Saturday morning with an aimless meander. From our hotel in Knightsbridge we walked towards the city center, stopping to window shop on the way. We ended up at Trafalgar Square and decided to go to the National Gallery. After our cultural excursion we were hungry, so we headed to Chinatown for some dim sum.

Our stomachs full of Chinese Dumpling Goodness, we had another meandering walk back towards the hotel and a couple of hours spent relaxing, napping (GLH) and reading (GL) followed by High Tea.

Then it was time to get ready for dinner and a West End show.

Spamalot was great fun. But I won't say more because "what happens in Camelot, stays in Camelot." Although if you do decide to go, try to get seat D1 in the stalls. You'll find out why in the second act!

After the musical ended we attempted to catch the underground back to Knightsbridge. However, the station at Leichester Square was absolute chaos. The tickets machines were not working. The ticket booths were unstaffed. And even if you had tickets, most of the turnstiles were also nonoperational. There were a few hundred tourists and Londoners screaming at a handful of transportation employees who were doing nothing to resolve the situation except yell back.

Quick Note: London could take a lesson from Zürich, or pretty much any other major city, on how to run mass public transit. I've noticed this on past trips as well. Their transit system has constant problems. You got to wonder what will happen during the London Olympics! I shudder to think about it.

After trying to figure out what to do, we gave up and had to push and shove our way out of the crowded station. We decided to just take a cab. However, as all of the theatres were just letting out there was not an available cab to be had. So we started walking towards the hotel. I quickly regretted wearing high heels. (Jeans and comfortable shoes would have been fine at Spamalot, but not for dinner. Sigh.)

Eventually we found another underground station much further down the line that actually seemed to be working and caught a train the rest of the way. But, of course, not before I developed enormous blisters that made walking excruciating.

The next morning we slept in. Which for me means 8:30 am. Eventually I got hungry and forced GLH to get up so we could eat and then go do something.

After breakfast we went to the Victoria and Albert Museum. Neither of us had ever been there before, but we both loved it. It's enormous, so we only saw a part of the collection. However, we will definitely be back. My favorite item was the enormous Chihuly chandelier in the entry. Absolutely gorgeous!

Since we were in the neighborhood, we did a walk-through of Harrods. Quite probably the most over-rated store in the history of the world. By now it was lunch time so we ate at one of the counters in the Food Hall. As we ate we chatted about the current exchange rate (72 USD/80 CHF for a small vegetable lasagna and a small prosciutto pizza accompanied by tap water.) And that was our cheapest meal of the weekend. Suddenly the prices in Zürich don't seem so outrageous after all!

All in all it was a mostly relaxing weekend, minus our transportation woes on Saturday evening. And I have to say, it is nice to hear English being spoken. Being surrounded by a foreign language can be exhausting.


Kirk said...

Totally agree re: Harrods, but the one thing there that is worth seeing is the cheesy Diana-and-Dodi memorial downstairs--very un-British and great unintentional comedy...

The Big Finn said...

I'm curious as to why you find Harrods over-rated. WE LOVE IT!!! As a matter of fact, we're planning on spending the better part of a day there when we go to London in February.

Global Librarian said...

There is nothing in the Harrod's experience that you cannot also get at Harvey Nichols.

Except, perhaps, trampled by mobs of tourists.

And the incredible tacky memorial mentioned by Kirk, of course.

We only went because GLH wanted to go. I actually HATE shopping with a passion that surprises even myself. Especially when there are lots and lots of people there.

Midsummer night's knitter said...

I like London - but not a s much as I like not living there;0)
My German is going to be pitiful when we arrive in January - and I'm already getting mixed up trying to speak the little I can - when we were flat huniting in Zurich recently instead of saying 'Ich spreche kein Deutsch' to someone I said 'I don't speak English' to someone who clearly spoke both languages. What bothered me was that it took me more than a few seconds to work out why I was getting really odd looks...

The Big Finn said...

Thanks for the Harvey Nichols tip. Neither of us have ever been there before, and we're going to give it a visit the next time we're in London.