Wednesday, June 11, 2014

England: Part Two!

Our second day in England was full of exploring.

Nate and I woke up around 5:30AM, laid in bed for a while before turning on the lights and making tea around 6.  We sat, drinking it in bed, listening to the seagulls chatter outside the window while the sun chased the deep, dark, blue from the sky.
The Lying Turney Button is TRUE! I took a shower and just started laughing because of course Eddie Izzard is correct.  He's Eddie Izzard.  The bath (as I discovered later) is WONDERFUL!  It's long enough that you can (at least me at 5' 5") can lay down flat on the bottom and deep enough that all of me was covered.  I wanted to take it home, or just stay there.  I could swap showers for baths if it meant I never had to endure the cramped, yoga worthy contortions I do in US bathtubs.

We had breakfast in the hotel, which wasn't quite full English, but very tasty.  You could have oatmeal, cold cereal, bacon, ham, sausage, beans, tomatoes and mushrooms, scrambled eggs, toast of at least four varieties, mini croissants, coffee, tea, milk, and juice.  It was lovely.  I ended up enjoying yogurt on cereal several times. However, I must say that the English don't make scrambled eggs quite like we do.  They were bland and rather watery.  Tried them twice just to see if perhaps it was a cook's error, and it was not.  Fed, caffeinated, and armed with maps we decided to walk to Portobello Road since it wasn't terribly far from our hotel and the weather was gorgeous.

The Market was quite busy, as our guide books had mentioned, but it was quite possibly the most amazing flea market I've ever been to!  The Chelsea Galleries is a giant space (think of the largest antique mall you've ever been to, and double it, at least) where everything is much like antique malls in the states (stalls that can be rented and are arranged by the seller), but better!  In the US, at least in the Seattle and Washington Antique Malls that I have gone to there is a huge selection of "mid-century modern" mostly because that it what is popular right now, and mostly because there is a lot of it.  You will probably find a few things from the 1940's, WWII paraphernalia, and one tattered Edwardian dressing gown, but nothing like that in Portobello Road.

Most things started in the 1940's and went back from there.  Opera Glasses, rings, brooches, shoe clips, china, knick-knacks, and gorgeous Victorian items.  It was so hard not to spend my entire trip allowance right then and there!  I'd need another suitcase to pack it all home in, but goodness!  It was lovely.  Just before we were headed out I found a corner of a lace tablecloth buried in a pile of lace tablecloths that caught my eye.  I inquired with the seller as to the price and she smiled and sold it to me for £10!  It felt like a steal.

Off we went back to the main road, Bayswater, after getting horribly lost in Notting Hill (beautiful though!) and got on our Hop-On Hop-Off Bus!  The Hop-On Hop-Off was a lovely way to explore the city and get our bearings before attempting the London Underground (more on that later), as well as getting us all over the city for a reasonable fee.  It also included a couple of deals on admission into the Tower of London, and a couple other things, and was good for two days.  We rode on the open-topped, red double decker bus (up on top, of course!) the route took us past Madame Tussaud's
Wax Museum and Regent's Park,

past the BBC Headquarters, through Oxford Circus and then Piccadilly Circus,

past the National Gallery and Trafalgar Square (where I geeked out about Lord Nelson's statue!!),

then across Westminster Bridge, along the Thames, back over Lambeth Bridge and we departed at Westminster Abbey.

Oh, and then!  Then we found the legendary Millbank Street!  Bob was more pleased than punch when we found it, just a little bit away from Westminster and Big Ben.

 Bob, Nate, and Sue Millbank.  Nathen hates having his picture taken, but he did have fun!  

Utter spectacular doors and architecture!  This door was at least 6.5' tall.

Caught Bob and Sue being darling...didn't even have to have them pose.  

Got a little artsy with the polished sign.  Sue thought we should come back after Nate and I get married and then there would be four Millbanks in the picture!

Taking a breather and discussing architecture and probably history.

We spent the rest of the day riding the Hop-on Hop-off bus and took naps when we returned to the hotel!  Whew!  We were quite tired but it was such a lovely first full day in London.  
Turns out that I hadn't packed very well for the weather and in the day and a half it took us to travel to London it had changed from Summery to Spring.  Naturally I had shorts and a dress, which in retrospect was a bit silly.  When going to England, pack for Seattle.  Lesson Learned.  Happily this meant a jaunt over to the local "mall" called Whiteley's and the H&M where I acquired two pairs of lovely pants to keep my poor leggies warm.  

Next Up: The Tower of London, Harrods, Saint Paul's Cathedral, a tiny cafe wherein we realise we're quite cold and hot tea is amazing, and Hop-on Hop-off.

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