Telephones and Taxis
London has never really been on the top of our travel list. I really don’t know why. Maybe it wasn’t exotic enough? Perhaps the food seemed unappealing? (we’ve seen a lot of hotel English Breakfasts during our travels and I’m not a fan of baked beans, tomatoes and soggy bacon). But, we caved when our daughter wanted to see the Rosetta Stone and the Egyptian exhibits at the British Museum. It’s hard to say no to a thirst for knowledge!
So, London called and we answered. We weren’t disappointed. In fact, we had a fantastic time!
These red phone booths are everywhere. So iconic and I loved seeing them. I thought it would be fun to have a picture of the kids popping out of one but…surprise!…the booth we opened had a big pile of vomit in it so after that we didn’t open any others!
Lots of old red phone booths are actually being restored and repurposed for things like a book exchange or a tiny shop. It’s pretty cool! You can read more about that in this NY Times article.
Another cool thing that you will find in London are the letter boxes. They appeared in London in the mid 1800’s and they started out green. In 1874, someone decided they liked red better than green so they were all painted red over the next ten years!
While I’m on the subject of iconic things in London I have to talk about the black taxi. We rode in a couple of them and even had a private tour around the city in one. I had no idea that years of studying and lots of testing were needed to become a London Black Taxi driver. You can read more about that history here.
During our tour, we drove by Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, Parliament, Big Ben (which is covered in scaffolding and undergoing a huge restoration until 2021), National Gallery, Churchill War Rooms, Westminster Abbey, Covent Garden, Harrods, Green Park, St Paul’s Cathedral, Royal Albert Hall and many more famous places.
By the way, we visited in late March and lucked out with a week of great weather! Mild temps, no rain, some blue skies and even some cherry blossoms!
We also drove by Tony Blair’s heavily guarded house (I would hate to be his neighbor!), the Ecuador Embassy, where Julian Assange and his cat are currently living, and 10 Downing Street. Interesting times!
I guess now is as good a time as any so I might as well mention Brexit. Wow. What a mess. Most people we talked to were sick of it and they just want closure. All of the waiting and going back and forth on when and if they will leave the E.U. is a nightmare.
While we were there, a massive planned protest was scheduled. We heard that a million people turned out that day. We saw many of them at the tube station.
We decided it was a good day to hide out in the British Museum and we just caught the beginning and tail end of the protest by our hotel in Mayfair.
We spent several hours at the British Museum focusing on Ancient Egypt and of course spent some time pondering the Rosetta Stone.
We enjoyed a really terrific lunch at the Great Court Restaurant at the top of the museum. it was fun to watch the action in the open kitchen. You can get all of the details you need to visit the British Museum on their website.
On the way to the British Museum, we decided to hit Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross Station. We’ve got a house full of Harry Potter fans and the girls even brought their house ties on the trip!
Well…it was an hour and a half wait to take a picture with the trolly going into the brick wall and there was no way, even though we are huge HP fans, that we were going to stand there that long! (I mean just look at the lady in this last pic…does she look happy with her decision?)
We settled for these pictures and a promise of some sticky pudding later and everyone was happy!
We had a really amazing week in London!
In short, London is a bit like NY in that it’s vibrant and exciting and there is a lot to do at any time. However, London has such a rich history, it’s cleaner and people are more polite. Oh, can’t forget about the charming accents! So, I can see why London just won the #1 spot for the TripAdvisor Travelers Choice Top 25 Destinations in the World!
We had great food too. Sampled lots of fish and chips (which comes with mashed green peas that I really enjoyed but I think I was the only one), we also had some excellent Indian food and a lovely afternoon tea (coming up in another post). No baked beans, no cooked tomatoes and no soggy bacon!
Next up…more of London including The Tower of London, an afternoon tea and a visit to Notting Hill