Tuesday, June 15, 2010

London Calling

Back from a a much needed vacation, re-invigorated and excited about life, love, flowers and people. My girlfriend and I went on holiday to London and had a marvelous time. We managed to dodge airline strikes, volcano eruptions, the infamous English rain and also benefited from the dollar strengthening in our favor. Which is a good thing, as London is incredibly expensive anyway! In planning the trip, I found hotels to be prohibitively expensive, so I used a tip from a friend who had rented an apartment in New York  for a vacation by perusing Craigslist. I found a very well situated one bedroom apartment - aka "flat" - in Covent Garden which is pretty much as close to the heart of London as you can get. It was one third the price of a hotel, with more space and many conveniences, not the least of which was a kitchen to make tea and toast, as well as the occasional meal when one simply needs a break from eating in a restaurant.
Over the next week or so I will go over several of the cool and interesting things we encountered in London, as well as an overview of brief trip we made to Edinburgh, Scotland. Mostly, we spent our time going to museums, galleries and long, long walks during the day; and evenings were full of visits to West End theatres and churches to see musicals and chorales, We also enjoyed many memorable meals, including an evening at iconic "Gordon Ramsay"'s restaurant. Watch this space for my rating of his cuisine!
All of London was teeming with people going hither and thither, whom at times at times formed such a mass, that one was reminded of the "London Mob" of the Dickensian era. While I was informed on several occasions that the recession was indeed keenly felt in England, the evidence that I observed with mine own eyes was distinctly to the contrary. Oxford Street, probably the grandest of all thorougfares devoted eclsuively to retail shopping in the world, was packed with people toting shopping bags, seemingly full of goodies, on both sides of the street.                                      
And of course flowers are planted out everywhere; from the ubiquitous hanging baskets overflowing with petunias outside of the pubs to incredibly ornate bedding plant displays and herbaceraous shrubs blooming in the parks. Indeed, England's love affair with flowers seems stronger than ever, as the popularity of garden shows, especially the "Chelsea Flower Show" demonstrates. My desire to visit the world famous garden and flower show was left wholly unsatisfied, as I was informed in a rather patronising tone by a docent at the gate that tickets are sold out almost a year in advance. Well, excuse me.
Ah well, just another thing to look forward to next time we go to London, as a follow-up trip seems ineviitable; given that we have much to see that we did not have time for.
As Dr. Samuel Johnson famously said: “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life...for there is in London all that life can afford."

Mmmm...except the weather!

Images, top to bottom:
Tower Bridge, freshly painted in blue
Coat of Arms of The City Of London
View of the City, Tower of London in foreground and the "Gherkin" behind
Petunia outside pub
Sacred Heart made from two Triumph motorcycle gas tanks in window dispay at Selfridges

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