Published: July 19th 2011July 17th 2011
So the hotel was more annoying than first imagined - dodgy shower, noisy being next to the lift, rude staff, crap breakfast... but I asked for a room change and it was granted (so much better). Now that's off my chest, let me tell you about my one day in London. Having been in London two years ago and pretty much ticking off most tourist destinations, I was keen to have a slow travel day in London.
I started out at the V&A, where I went on the introductory tour. Since I was last there, they've opened up a number of new permanent galleries so I wished I'd put aside more time for it. But as it's so big, it was good to do the tour to get a feel for the collections, particularly those I had not seen before.
I then walked to Harrods, stopping in at Pauls for a mediocre pastry as I hadn't really had breakfast. I found my way to the very crowded food hall but was bitterly disappointed to find that they no longer sell Harrods High Tea blend. I consoled myself with a different blend instead. The place was overwhelmingly packed, so I made my way to Hummingbird Bakery which was my meeting point with Israel and Gavi. I waited for a little while to get a table inside and just as I did (having ordered a hot chocolate), Israel and Gavi arrived and got their cupcakes and drinks. I had also bought two very yummy cupcakes and a cake days cookbook. The experience was good until a more junior staff member told us we should leave as Israel and Gavi had not paid for table service items even though I had. It was really a spoiler on an otherwise pleasant experience.
We then caught the tube to Clapham Junction for a very nice sushi meal at Tokiya. Reasonably priced (for the UK), good quality and very nice service, it was a delightful change from the ordinarily mediocre service I have found on this trip (though the North was not too bad when compared to London). We stayed for almost two hours - the weather was unpleasant outside and the conversation delightful inside, so it was a lovely way to spend the afternoon. Israel and Gavi were so nice as to take me back to Earls Court, where we happened upon the Earls Court Street Festival, with quaint stalls and an amazing performer singing "summertime". One stall that was particularly cool was MonkeyPoodle - cute set up and outfit, great cupcakes and cakes, and super friendly service. Then as we left the festival I tried to take a photo of a lolly stall and got told not to... very odd really. Pity she told me just as I snapped the photo!! We shared a final drink at Starbucks (it's ok, I had water) and then Israel and Gavi left and I returned, rather tired, to my hotel room.
I decided to get some dinner a little later in the evening and went to a chain called Masala Zone. It was actually very nice (like an Indian Carluccio's) and fairly reasonably priced for the quantity and quality of food. I just had a thali with butter chicken, but the veg sides were particularly awesome. Then it was back to the hotel to pack for the trip in the morning.
I woke up way too early, but that was ok. I showered (so much better in my second room) and got ready to leave. My private taxi was a little early and so was I and I got to the airport in good time. Checked in, went through security and waited. I had the best airport food I've ever had at Giraffe, then shopped a little, then waited. And waited. And waited!! The flight was delayed. When I did get on, it was packed. The flight was brief and I was asleep for most of it. In Frankfurt, I walked an age, but finally got to my gate and just in time too. Another crowded plane. I was surprised to find that on this longer flight there were no individual screens in the backs of the seats. Not cool as I was planning to stay up. But I had a chatty Norwegian teenager next to me, Pride and Prejudice on my iPad2 and the film Rio showed on the communal screen, so in all it wasn't too bad. I even slept a little!
In all the UK trip was rather intense - two conferences straight was not ideal in hindsight and I didn't leave much time to enjoy the places I was in. I'm a slow traveller, so this was a bit strange. I also had way more interaction than I'm used to when I travel - every time I was 'alone' there was almost always some stranger wanting to talk to me. Stupid continuing states of incipient talk.
p.s. Did I mention my dinner at Gourmet Burger Kitchen, which was a nice burger but with a talkative American sitting next to me talking about how Swedish people are happy because their language has more high rising terminals... I begged to differ. It was not the quiet evening I had been looking for!