Tuesday, March 19, 2013

London - Take 2

On Monday, we went to see the changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. We stopped off at Green Park the previous night to see the Palace lit up, but a sign informed us at the tube station that it was a 7 minute walk. Seven minutes is a really long time when your breath keeps getting knocked out of you by the frigid wind. We decided to just stick to seeing it in the day time. 

It was snowing lightly Monday morning. It wasn't sticking though, so it was pretty and didn't hinder any of our plans for the day. 

Green Park is really pretty. The dandelions were trying to make an appearance.


Once across Green Park, we just had to cross a street and bam! Buckingham Palace.

Again, this isn't the typical season for travel in Europe, but I guess that is why so many still go. I can't imagine how crowded this event is when it is the season if this is how packed it is while it is frigid and snowing.

Lots of people on either side of the round about.

We arrived fairly timely. It wasn't too long before I heard the sounds of drums in the distance. Everyone turned in anticipation of their arrival.

Soon enough, they arrived, and everyone was madly taking photos.

 Snowing again! 
It was pretty.
 After the band, the armed guards came through in formation.

Then came these guys on horses. I wouldn't have minded some kind of narration to explain to me the significance of all this pomp and circumstance for essentially a shift change.


After the show was over, we headed back over to the Green Park Underground Station.

See these knobby trees? There are thousands of them specifically planted in and throughout London. They are Plea trees, pronounced p-l-a-y. They absorb the pollution in the atmosphere into their bark. Then they shed the bark and start the process all over again. Awesome, huh?

We walked quickly back across the park 
along with many of the other sightseers.


Into the Station we went.

Down the escalators, standing to the right. 
The left side is for those who actually want to walk down the escalator. 
The right side is for those who just want to stand.

 Onto the train...

back up the escalators, standing on the right side.

We were headed to the Victoria & Albert Museum. 
Luckily, this particular tube station had a tunnel with entrances to many of the nearby museums. 

One of the many troubadours we saw preforming in the tube/metro areas.

The Victoria & Albert Museum's collection is extensive. We first viewed a sort of "History of Fashion and Textiles". No photos were allowed, but I found this image on line.

Some of the clothes from the earlier 20th Century were so tiny! We used to be so petite!
Samson slaying a Philistine.
We ended up finding a list of "The Victoria & Albert Museum's Greatest 20 Treasures". We hunted those down until we got hungry.

I loved these collections of tin and wooden boxes. They were so beautiful and intricate! I want one!

A screen from a church. I'm so detailed oriented.

An awesome column.

There was a "History of Theatre" exhibit. These were some of the masks.

What I really wanted to take pictures of was the "History of Jewelry" exhibit. But it was not allowed. I found this image online. This was the first thing I saw when I entered the room. "Ooooh! Sparkles! I want that one!" was basically all I said.

There was a Chihuly chandelier hanging from the ceiling of the main entrance.

We walked out the main entrance. As beautiful and intricate as everything inside.

Next up, Harrod's! It is just down the street.

Mom and Dad ate here, The Bunch of Grapes, the last time they came. It was yummy. Mom and Dad split a fish 'n' chips, Jake had the most delicious club sandwich ever, and I had a good cheeseburger. I would go back if I was in the area.

After a little more walking...

We came to Harrod's!


The only reason I would ever go back to Harrod's, is if someone I was with had never been. It is kind of oozing with pretension. If you're not ready to drop some major cash, the sales clerks kind of look at you as if they can't really see you. However, there is a "Harrod's Store" where you can buy reasonably priced items with "Harrod's" all over them. 

Mom liked seeing the memorial they had set up for Diana and Dodi. The pyramid in the center holds a smudged wine glass from Diana's last dinner, and a (presumed engagement) ring Dodi purchased the day before he died. 

Then we took the metro to Russell Square. It is a beautiful little park near the British Museum.


This is the entrance to the British Museum at the moment. I am guessing a good portion of London is always under construction or refurbishment.

Anyway, Jake had been the one to want to go to the British Museum. He thought the British Museum and the British History Museum were synonymous with each other. I would have thought the same thing if I had given any thought to it. However, make no mistake, the British Museum actually has nothing to do with British history. So, I told him to pick at least one exhibit he would like to see, so it wouldn't be a complete waste. He chose the Egyptian exhibit.

I am always amazed at how long something can withstand time. 
The sculpture below is of Ramesses the Second from 1280 BC. Amazing. 



 Poor Dad. He got so sick our second day with the worst chest cold. 
Museums aren't his cup of tea either.

After we finished with the Egyptian exhibit, we made our way back across Russell Square to the Underground which took us to Oxford Circus. During our double decker bus tour, our tour guide said that Oxford Circus is a Shopaholic's heaven or hell... and she was right! Any and every store worth shopping was there. There were even multiples of some; namely Gap and H&M. There were thousands of people hitting the streets and stores. We visited 2 of the most unique to the area.

Look at all of those buses!

 This was our first stop, Hamley's.

Essentially, Hamley's is kid heaven. (They have a website, too!) Six floors of everything you could possibly imagine from stuffed animals to building blocks, craft sets to wizard wands, bicycles to nerf guns. It was a Toys R Us on crack. 

This picture was supplied by the internet.
 The people who work there could possibly be on crack as well. 
They basically show off the toys while welcoming you into the store and help you out. Planes were flying, balls were bouncing, art sets were being used... nuts-o. Balloons were even darting every where while the sales people acted like court jesters. 

After Hamley's, we went to my new favorite store. Truly, I could have walked around perusing its products and displays for hours on end. The name of the store is Liberty, and Jacob was actually the one who found it on the internet. It's been around a great deal of time, but still manages to not take itself too seriously. Unlike Harrod's, we spent some cash here.

Every room was arranged with beautiful displays.



Even within the hutches they were selling they displayed beautiful vases and other ceramics.

There were so many floors to explore!

The room featured below was what I thought to be the equivalent of the "Harrod's Shop". I don't know if it is where they put stuff to clearance, but the items were not as expensive as others in the rest of the store. They still arranged everything so it was nicely on display, and not dumped in a clearance heap.

They even had a fabric section! They had some really cute quilting and pillow kits, but they were pretty pricey. 

Liberty's toiletry section. They had everything from soaps to candles in here.

This was undoubtedly one of my favorite areas. They had a beautiful selection of tableware and ceramics here. Everything from Royal Doulton to the equivalent of fiesta ware.

Jake had to drag me out the doors of Liberty to get us on the road to our dinner destination. It's okay though, because I discovered they are on the web! We passed a Banana Republic on the way.

It started snowing again.

We also passed a TJ Maxx... wait a minute. That's not a TJ Maxx! 
We shopped there after dinner. It's the same. I got myself a scarf. They even had wedding dresses! 

We also passed a Chipotle. Jake was tempted.

We finally made it to the Stockpot!

We started off with soup. We were freezing! It was good, just what we needed to warm up.

Mom was quite the fashionista on our trip. If it kept her warm, she put it on.

I think Jake and Mom had minestrone, I had potato and watercress. 

Hands down, Dad's was the best. A type of breaded chicken with mushrooms and pink sauce. Mom's was good too. Her's was a similar chicken with vegetables.

Jake had asked for seafood risotto, but ended up with seafood spaghetti. He didn't complain because it was delicious. I had asked for carbonara. Maybe they didn't think I knew what carbonara was. This was basically alfredo sauce with diced bacon. I still ate it. It was good, and I was hungry!

In England, most restaurants include the tip in the price of the meal or the final bill. This was the final bill for 4 entrees and 3 soups. We found The Stockpot to be warm, inviting, good service, with delicious food, at a great price.

After dinner, we trekked home to enjoy some McVittie's Digestive Cookies. Don't they sound gross?! They are kind of like a thick graham cracker cookie dipped in chocolate. They are great for dunking in milk. 

More tomorrow!

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