After our visit to Henley, we figured we were pretty much experts at the train station and could go anywhere we wanted, but we thought it would be a good idea to familiarize ourselves with London before the Olympics. Thank goodness we did, we would have been in way over our heads. There were so many people! And have you seen a map of the Tube? Good luck with that. Lucky for us, Jay’s cousin Julia and her boyfriend Patrick live IN LONDON and volunteered to be our own personal tour guides. They were pros — they pretty much showed us the whole city in a little over 6 hours and a little under 6 miles. Of course, it felt more like a marathon. You think you’re in shape until you do some serious walking, then you wonder what’s wrong with you. Maybe those ladies with the mini hand weights and power walking actually have the right idea…
Our day started on the Tube. I gotta say, it lost some of its luster for me this weekend. I had no idea how hot it would be down there — it just didn’t even cross my mind — I mean, heat rises, right? No, apparently not in underground London. It just all gets trapped in there to make public transportation even more gross. I’m sorry, I know, save mother earth, take the train. And that we did. I was sweating and it was 65 degrees and raining outside. No big deal. Bigger question: How do 2 million people in dress clothes make that commute every day?
We stopped at Leicester Square first to look for discounted theatre tickets. We had mentioned seeing a show and Julia, being the insider she is, told us that was the best place to get them. We decided a show could wait, there was already a ton to see… and we were really hungry (broadening our cultural experiences 0, feeding the beast 1). So we hopped back on the Tube to go to Borough Market. WOW. Woooooow. I have never seen such a thing in my life. It was a farmer’s market on crack. There were so many food vendors (and people, this will be a reoccurring theme) — fresh fruits and vegetables, cheeses, jams, seafood, chorizo sandwiches, sangria, chocolate, yogurt, breads, beers… Just thinking about it makes me happy. I could have spent hours there (and probably gained 10 lbs).
Once our bellies were full and happy we marched on… and on… and on. We saw the London Bridge (with the Olympic rings), Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, St. Paul’s Cathedral, a few parks, a lot of statues, and JFK’s residence (that one was for you, Mom). By 6 o’clock we all agreed it was time to rest; you’d think we were getting old or something. After giving our feet a much needed break, the next challenge was deciding where we would eat for dinner. I would have been happy with a fruit salad. I got out-voted. Instead, we ended up going to an Indian restaurant. And after that meal, I can easily say that I never need to eat Indian food again.
The night ended with an interesting film called Shame. I wouldn’t recommend it. Unless you want to see a slightly disturbing film.
Jay and I were on own on Sunday.
The plan was to catch a bus to Kensington to make the 2 pm walking tour.
The plan didn’t work out that well.
Julia told us we needed to catch the 152 bus to get to Downing Street. When we reached the bus stop we checked the schedule and expected our bus to be coming every 12 minutes. We waited for about 20 before the 152 stopped. As we were getting on the bus the men in front of us asked if this bus stopped at Downing Street. The bus driver replied that it did not, and after Jay confirmed what he said, we got back off the bus thinking we had been mistaken. However, once we checked the map again, we realized that the 152 absolutely did make the stop we needed. We had been duped (stupid tourists). Thinking that another bus would be coming any minute, we waited. We thought about a taxi; we walked down to the Tube (but knew that would be a disaster); went pee at McDonald’s; and then we waited some more. We were at that bus stop for over an hour. Apparently the 152 was a little behind schedule.
By the time we made it we were too late for the tour. Go figure. But we made the best of it. We walked around the National Gallery and saw some pretty incredible works, including a couple famous Van Gogh paintings. We had lunch at a little place off the beaten path and then stumbled upon a gelato shop called “Scoop”. Bummer. I hate when that happens. Not. It was fabulous. They had a sign that said they deliver — I wonder if that’s international…
Oh, and one of the best things about Sunday. We also stumbled upon a Whole Foods. I just about died and went to Heaven. I love that freakin’ store.