Monday September 22 2014
I started off day 4 with breakfast of Vegemite on brown toast (thanks to the Aussies of course – it’s actually pretty tasty) with coffee and tea. Meri, Davy and I were playing the day by ear and Shanni was going to Bath. She had her train ticket booked and left early that morning while the rest of us were lounging around in the flat.
As the Aussies and I got ready, Meri received a text from Shannon that she had missed her train to Bath from London by…..wait for it……TWO MINUTES. Needless to say, she was completely gutted and was headed back to the flat. She returned to Hampstead, and the Fab Four (that’s us by the way) decided to wander parts of London.
We took the tube from the Hampstead station down to Chalk Farm and wandered down to Camden Town. Camden Town is truly amazing. Even in the late morning/early afternoon on a Monday, it was crowded. We wandered along just checking it out before stopping at The Oxford Arms for some lunch. I wasn’t feeling incredibly wonderful that day (and it seemed to be a recurring issue during most of trip) so I settled for a “lemonade.” This was my first experience with a non-American lemonade.
In the States lemonade is a sweet yet sour cloudy mixture of lemon, water, and sugar. In Great Britain it is what we could consider Sprite or 7-Up here – a fizzy lemon lime soda. In Camden they served it with a slice of lemon. It was delicious! And just what I needed for the slightly sour stomach I had this day. My lunch consisted of the lemonade, some bread and random meat and vegetables from a Ploughman’s Platter that Shannon and I shared. It was incredibly delicious.
The weather was gorgeous and we sat out in the sunny back beer garden area, chatting and getting to know each other. Afterwards we headed off to wander around and check out the shops in Camden. Davy, the saint that he is, waited patiently for us on the sidewalk while the women wandered in and out of shops looking at shoes, scarves, unique clothing.
Since I was completely a virgin to foreign travel, I didn’t know what to expect….ever. I knew that chip and pin credit cards were used in Europe so I was interested to see what would happen when I presented my Caveman-Era-American-Swipe-Credit-Card to make a purchase. It was relatively anti-climactic. They asked for an ID, I handed over my passport, and we were all good.
After the shopping, our next stop was at the Sir Richard Steele Pub in Steele’s Village (just a bit north of Camden Town) for a proper pint (some Old Golden Hen for me) and some pudding – dessert for us Americans. The sticky toffee pudding, served with vanilla ice cream, was incredible. It’s a piece of moist, spongy cake that has nuts in it and is usually covered with butterscotch or a toffee sauce. I think it was, hands down, my favorite dessert of any I ate in London.
Next on our agenda was a Thames River cruise that was included as part of the double-decker bus tour we had taken the day before. We took the scenic route on our way there, stopping first at Primrose Hill. Primrose Hill affords a rather impressive view of the City of London, as much of the skyline is visible from the top of the hill. This day was a beautiful sunny day, and there were many people taking advantage of the sun by relaxing, and sitting in the grass.
As we wandered down the hill towards Regents Park Road we noticed a small girl, likely no older than 6, pull down her pants next to a tree. Her mother saw her and ran over to her and held her there while she assumedly “did her business”. Our fear was that it was number two under the tree and not just number one. I guess kids’ behavior is universal no matter what the country. When you gotta go, you gotta go.
We walked along Regents Park Road viewing the expanse of Regents Park to our right and beautiful homes to the left.
After walking down the road a while we went ahead and caught a bus to take us into the city center. It took us FOREVER to find where we were going to get onto the river cruise. In the process we came across The Tower of London which was incredibly beautiful. Volunteers were installing the thousands of red ceramic poppies that were part of an art display commemorating the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I.
We also had a lovely view of London Bridge during our “stroll”.
We FINALLY got to the dock for our river cruise which was a short, but sweet 20-30 minute ride. It was nice to sit and relax a bit after walking so much. Since we drive everywhere (my hometown doesn’t have the level of public transport that London has), the walking may have been a lot on the second day out of the gates. I know that Shanni’s feet were killing her. The cruise gave us some nice view of the “big things” in London:
The London Eye
The Globe Theatre
We disembarked the cruise right at the foot of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. It was surreal. I couldn’t believe that I was standing right there, in front of this London icon!
We took pity on our poor feet (of which Shanni’s were definitely the worst off) and hailed a cab to take up back to our lovely Hampstead flat for dinner and “pudding” (and wine of course).
My first REAL international adventure had begun and I was truly enjoying the sights and the time with friends. I was excited to see what we would experience in the days to come.