Adventures of a Wanderess – Day 22

Distance travelled: 5 miles
Salmon sandwich trip tally: 16

Day Twenty-Two was my last full day in London and the last non-travel day of my trip so I decided last night that I would cram as much wandering into it as my energy level would allow. I was ready to face the outside world just before 10am so I headed to Paddington to catch the Circle Line to Westminster in order to catch the River Bus down to Greenwich; I visited the Royal Observatory there on my last trip, but the weather was so wet and windy that I didn’t spend much time exploring and since I travelled on the Underground, I spent quite a bit of time on the three lines to get there and back. So, I thought a trip down the Thames in the sunshine would be a nice change in mode of travel. Once I’d alighted at Greenwich Pier, I spent some time wandering through the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College/University of Greenwich, glimpsing the Royal Observatory atop its hill and knowing I wouldn’t be trekking up there again this trip.




Anticipating grabbing a quick bite at Costa, I was pleasantly surprised to come across a Bill’s just down the street so I decided that that would be where I enjoyed the last lunch of my trip (and I did). After a yummy meal, I checked in for tomorrow’s flight (*sniffle*) and then meandered through Greenwich Market to the Cutty Sark before heading back to Greenwich Pier to catch the next westbound boat. 





I had intended to to disembark at Westminster Pier and take the Tube to Sloane Square so I could visit Saint Columba’s Church on Pont Street and then walk through Hyde Park and back to Paddington, but time and waning energy meant adding Saint Columba’s to next trip’s list of things to visit. So after hopping off the boat at Westminster, I caught the Jubilee Line to Green Park, made my way to and through Hyde Park (where the bluebells were out), and grabbed a final Costa panini at Paddington Station before heading back to the flat to do some packing. 


There will be one final post for tomorrow since my journey isn’t quite over yet, but as always, my time here has flown by and I’m not ready to say farewell. But it’s been another wonderful trip.

Busy Wanderings: My Big British Adventure – Day 6

Our sixth day in London was our last and we began it by heading back to Westminster to get some final photos, including some typically touristy but fun selfies with Big Ben in the background.  Then we thought we’d wander around Selfridge’s and then Hyde Park, so we walked across Westminster Bridge and caught a bus – a double-decker this time – to Oxford Circus.  We didn’t actually make it to Selfridges, with C patiently waiting after I dragged her into Clark’s on Oxford Street so that I could buy another pair of comfortable shoes.  We substituted Debenhams for Selfridges and had a very good lunch in the café.  We then headed back toward Piccadilly Circus, stopping along the way so that I could buy a down jacket that compacts into a pouch, since I realised that the jacket I brought, while completely water and windproof, might not be warm enough.  I packed – overpacked – for every possibility, yet I ended up buying two pairs of shoes and another jacket.  It’s slightly embarrassing, but I will be here for a month and the forecast is all over, so if that’s all I have to buy, maybe I won’t have done too bad.

  
We then caught the Tube at Piccadilly to head back to the flat so that we could change and get to the Savoy Hotel for our afternoon tea reservation.  On the way, we got off at Embankment station and walked along the Thames a short ways before arriving at the hotel.  We walked past the Savoy Theatre where Gypsy has just opened with Imelda Staunton to glowing reviews…and which I’ll be seeing when I return to London next month.  I’m pretty excited and now I’ll know exactly where to go so I won’t get lost (these are the things that I worry about).

After a short wait, we were led to our table in the Thames Foyer.  We both decided on the traditional afternoon tea – at £50 each – and both opted for the English Afternoon Blend.  The waiter warned us to pace ourselves, as there’d be a lot of nibbles to get through…and he was right.  The first course was my favourite, though, with its selection of sandwiches and scones with clotted cream, lemon curd, and strawberry jam.  And for those that don’t know, I should point out that a scone here is not what we think of as a scone in the States.  Their scones are more like our biscuits…but more delicious.  Next came an assortment of pastry thingies – I opted for the chocolate/salted caramel, mango/passionfruit, and orange/something thingies while C had the first two and then what looked like a snowball – and after that, came two kinds of cake that we barely made a dent in.

 
Once our tea was finished, we wandered south along the embankment toward Westminster Bridge.  It was a lovely evening and the London Eye was lit up across the river as were the Houses of Parliament.  Sadly though, we eventually decided that it was time to head back to Earls Court and the flat, since there was packing up to do.  Finally, on our last Tube trip, we hopped not one, but two wrong trains.  It was entirely my fault and probably a combination of exhaustion and not wanting to leave London yet.  After accidentally heading east instead of west on the District Line and then heading west on the Circle Line which doesn’t reach Earls Court, we were finally on a westbound District Line train and shortly walking back to the flat.  Then it was laundry and trying to fit things back into my suitcase while making room for new things before finally falling asleep with my alarm set for only a handful of hours later.  The taxi is scheduled for 8 am and will take us back to Paddington station, where C will catch the Heathrow Express back to the airport and I’ll catch a train for my next destination: Oxford.

  
 

Busy Wanderings: My Big British Adventure – Day 2

My second day in London began bright, but not too early.  We headed out the door around 11 am and took the Tube to Leicester Square to pick up our London Passes, which get us into lots of amazing London attractions.  Then, we headed for the London Eye, which isn’t one of those attractions, but Fast Pass tickets purchased in advance ensured that we wouldn’t have to wait in line for very long at all.  We tried our hand at changing trains on our way with great success, ending up at Westminster station in no time.  The Thames greeted us as we emerged from the Underground, the London Eye staring at us (see what I did there?) from across the water, and there above us rose the Houses of Parliament and the iconic clock tower.  We made our way across Westminster Bridge, just two more sheep in the herds of tourists on a sunny – and very warm – day, and boarded the Eye, taking in breathtaking and far-reaching views of London as our capsule slowly made its way around.  I know it’s a very touristy thing to do, but the views make it worth navigating the crowds.

 

Once our capsule returned us to land, we made our way back across Westminster Bridge and had lunch at a pub across from Parliament.  We even had lunchtime entertainment, courtesy of the woman at the bar who was already pissed…and it was only very early afternoon.  After lunch, we ventured across Parliament Square to Westminster Abbey (covered by our London Pass).  After a quick wander inside St. Margaret’s Church, we entered the Abbey and received our little audio-tour thingies.  Numbers on our map indicated specific points of interest and when the matching numbers are pressed, Jeremy Irons’ amazing voice fills you in with more info.  So many people are commemorated there, it’s really quite amazing.  Most of the inscriptions are in Latin…which, unfortunately for me, I dropped after three weeks back at university.  The entire Abbey was absolutely breathtaking, completely awe-inspiring, and Henry VII’s Lady Chapel was particularly stunning.  Poet’s Corner was very interesting to wander through, especially as a literature major, and the Abbey shop had lots of interesting and fun souvenirs.

 

After the Abbey, we met up with a friend of C’s who also happens to be in London as part of an extended stop in the UK…and her custom’s official was just as unfriendly – if not more so – than mine.  She and C set off to wander and explore while I headed back to the flat to rest my already aching feet, the price for tons of walking in relatively new shoes (I knew better, but…), and stayed in for the rest of the night.  Although it seemed that we almost instantly adjusted to the eight hour time difference – thanks to the advice to hit the ground running – I was still feeling the effects of the 32 hours I was awake the day before.