This weekend, I had all kinds of plans, but I ended up just going with the flow. Which was slightly nerve-wracking at times, but turned out to be pretty awesome.
On Saturday, I started off by walking through Portobello Road Market, which is really close to where we are staying. The shops were just setting up as I got there, and they had everything. Clothes, food, china, antiques, cameras, books…you name it, they probably have a shop that sells it. I saw all kinds of beautiful things, but decided I would come back and buy them once my day was done, so I wouldn’t have to carry them around with me.
Harrods department store is nothing like what I was expecting. I had Macy’s and the like as a reference point, and this was so much fancier and had so much more to offer. There were all of the regular departments, as well as a sweet shop, charcuterie, cafeteria…I tried to have their afternoon tea, but it was booked, so I settled for a sample of their dark chocolate and pistachio fudge. In case you were wondering, I don’t like dark chocolate. Or fudge. But it was delicious!
Next was the V & A, as in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Since she is one of my favorite British monarchs, and Carolyne recommended it, I absolutely had to check it out. I was also starving at this point, so I browsed a few sections before going to the cafe in the back. While savoring my carrot cake, which also had pistachios on it, I realized that a bunch of my new friends were going to see Richard II. I also wanted to see it, so I went online and got a ticket. I was super excited to tell them I would be going too, when I found out they were going to the matinee, and I to the 7:15 pm showing. This is where I decided to go with the flow.
I had so much time to kill, that I decided to walk to the Barbican, visiting every major tourist attraction I could see on my map, especially the ones I remembered from my last trip to London 🙂
Right off of Picadilly Circus, you have all kinds of amazing shows to choose from. Then, I took a wrong turn and missed Leicester Square, but wound up in Chinatown. Not sure exactly what it was, but something smelt heavenly.
The place I remembered most from last time was Trafalgar Square. I think it might have been a frequent meeting point. I got really excited when I saw the pub where I had my first Fish & Chips in London, then started taking pictures. Seeing Big Ben down the street put a perma-smile on my face, even as it started to rain.
I continued to Covent Garden, browsing the shops and having a cookie. I happened upon the Royal Opera House, which I remember from my research had such a beautiful afternoon tea, but it was closed for renovations. Still, I decided to look around, and got the best news of all. Even though the website says the tea would be closed starting mid-December 2015, two different employees both confirmed that it is open, and it will be at least until the end of January. So excited!
I finally made it to the Barbican with hours to kill. I was even there when the matinee let out. I got to talk to my friends and get their impressions before having supper at the Bonfire restaurant. I was cold and a little wet from my journey, so I really enjoyed the comfort food, and the tea was just what I needed. This is also where I plotted out an entire potential story to write while I’m here.
I browsed through the shops and finished the play I had been reading before going to my seat, where I met Cynthia, who had flown from Germany to see David Tennant in a play. And that’s nothing, because she bought the tickets back in May, when she was still in the states, and planned on flying here from Georgia, just to see him. The play was amazing. I know, I’m a Shakespeare newbie, but even his Histories were apparently comedies. And the entire cast was really good. And I made a friend 🙂
Even with my lack of proper planning, I had a wonderful day. Then spent Sunday relaxing, planning for future excursions and figuring out my schedule before going out for one of my fellow students’ birthday. Staying near Portobello Road really makes me crave mushrooms, so I had the mushroom pizza, but next time, I am going for the risotto!
“Keep Calm and Carry On.”
-British government (and possibly my new motto)