Sunday, 6/10/12 – Day 4
Woke at 8:30AM. Weather looks nice but you’d never know until you get out into it.
After a breakfast of bananas and McVittie’s (English shortbread cookies commonly used for afternoon tea), we left the hotel around 10:30AM and walked down Wilton Road in the Pimlico neighborhood. Lots of little stores and cafes – lots of people were out and about. The weather was cloudy, cool, and blessedly dry. We decided to walk to St. James Park and then on to the Churchill War Rooms in the Westminster. The GPS led us there in about half an hour.
Before leaving on this trip, my DH and I watched the HBO series “Band of Brothers” about a company of American paratroopers during WWII (they stormed Normandy on the coast of France). It was a good introduction to what was happening to the British during the Nazis “blitz” on London. The war rooms were the cramped basement of the Whitehall government building, determined to be the strongest structure at the beginning of the war. For six years, Churchill and his staff directed the British defense here. It must have been frightening! In my lifetime, I may never know the fear and the pressure these people knew. I need to stop complaining so much.
For lunch, we walked to Trafalgar Square. We had a late lunch at the Thai Cuisine Restaurant. I ordered Noodles and Vegetables, my DH ordered Tofu with Cashews. Both dishes were beautifully presented with carrot flowers and bursting with fresh Asian flavors of soy, lemongrass, and chilies.
Since we were in the area, we stopped at the National Gallery to see 13th to 17th century art. The museum was free. We were not able to see a lot in two hours but the Renaissance paintings were exceptionally vivid in color and design. The café served an afternoon tea and the bookstore had a great collection of art books. We must go back!
We took the tube back to the hotel around 6PM. We took a nap until 9PM – we are on vacation after all. Wide awake, we decided to go to a pub we saw around the corner earlier in the day. It was cold and rainy so we ducked into the first warm restaurant we found – the Giraffe Victoria, an English-Asian fusion place with a friendly Italian waiter named Michael (he advised us on what cities to see while in Italy). I had the falafel appetizer, my DH had the Soba Noodles in a Coconut Curry sauce. I must say, we have been having some great Asian and Thai food since we got here! It makes me wonder, do we Americans ever taste their food?
Back in the hotel room at 11PM, my DH is watching an American movie “Aliens” on British TV, I’m working on the blog.
Monday, 6/11/12 — Day 5
I awoke at 11AM. 11AM!!!! I am spending way too much time on this blog. Entries will be short from now on and there will be spelling mistakes — this is just how it has to be since I am on vacation and all.
While my DH showered, I went to the Travelers’ Information center and booked tours for Tuesday and Wednesday and one Broadway show on Thursday (more on these later). We leave London Friday AM for Bath.
Since it is raining, we went to the Courtauld Gallery. For such a small place, it had a lot of big art!
For a late lunch, we went to Cote Bistro in Covent Gardens. A nice classy place with real dinner and silverware! My DH ordered the Green Risotto (filled with green vegetables), I ordered fishcakes (Salmon and mashed potatoes). The food was amazingly good for British fare! We had a window seat so we could watch the rain.
After lunch, we wandered around the Covent Garden area and found the outdoor market place. Look at all those flags! The British recently celebrated the Queen’s Jubilee and the Olympics are coming up soon.
It is easy to get lost in London — especially when you are trying to dodge puddles on narrow and uneven sidewalks. So, we ducked into one of the largest Apple stores in the world to use the free WiFi on a new iPad to see where we were.
On a nice day, window shopping here would have been fun. But around 7PM we got tired of being cold and wet so we went back to the hotel.
Tonight will be a bit of TV. We need to be up early tomorrow morning for our tour of Leeds Castle.