How to unpack? Nearly two weeks away. First time in 15 years. Marty and I went to Europe every year until the Great Recession. When all the tenants left, I belatedly realized what made possible our travel addiction.
I started in London with Claire, bestie since 6th grade, Londoner for nine years. So grateful for unfettered hours with her.
She took me to the top of Primrose Hill and Regent’s Park, to Liberty of London, Covent Garden, Barbary of Covent Garden, Carnaby Street, Oxford Street and where else I can’t remember – all in Day One.
Day Two. Eighteenth century Borough Market was a sensory overload treat. Tate Modern had a stunning exhibit pairing work of Hilma af Klint and Piet Mondrian. Dipped in British Museum to say hey to Rosetta Stone, cat mummies, Assyrian lion/horse gods before wandering more streets happy with coronation dressings.
Day Three. We started with a visit to Spitalfields market where I bought a Turkish cotton shirt embroidered with bees. Claire said I needed a London clothing souvenir. She’s right. Nearby was an unusual museum she’d read about but not visited. Her future guests will be encouraged to experience this old row house done up to honor generations of the Huguenot families who lived there. An inspired eccentric named Dennis Severs created an experience he called “still-life drama.” His every wish is fulfilled to this day: fresh food on the tables, fires burning in hearths, visitors maintaining absolute silence. A magical transportation to another era results. Doesn’t look like a bad life. Alas, no photos permitted. Finished with delightful dinner at the local restaurant steps from Claire and Scott’s home, expresso martini for dessert.
Day Four. Met a Memphis college chum and her Brit husband for Sunday Roast. So, so yummy (for a carnivore). Also yummy to hang out with old friends and feel like no time has passed even when it’s been decades. Headed to the Tower (my favorite tourist trap) but rain and the London Marathon impeded progress. Rain also deleted an hour from the Beefeater tour. Learned that the E II R insignia, which is absolutely everywhere, must now be replaced with C III R. Bound to take years. Grabbed a gin and tonic at 18th century pub I used to frequent in 1982. Looks the same.
Day Five. Oh, such a treat. Started in quintessential charming village of Hampstead. No wonder some fabulous and famous choose to live there. Stopped by Buckingham Palace to ogle coronation preps. But our walk through St. James Park was peak because we got to see all four of the resident White Pelicans (?!?!) I was over the moon. All because a Russian ambassador gifted the first ones in 1664. But we finished with a bigger bang: tickets for revival of Guys and Dolls. I suspect neither of them had high expectations. I assuredly did not. Probably why all three of us had socks blown off. Incredibly fun, chilling talent. Intro image was taken walking to underground after the show.
Day Six. Got up too early (for me) to wrestle my things and head to Heathrow for part two of my wee journey. Stay tuned.
Well done. You really did London right. Such a gift to have a close friend there too.