Monday, October 16, 2023

Back to London - September 12-13

 When Buckingham Palace announced that the Coronation robes were going to be a part of the display at the Palace, I knew I had to go back to London to see the exhibit.   Thanks to several friends who donated airline miles (I paid the taxes), ripped up a check to them for bailing me out when my car would not start in Target parking (new battery, left my credit card at home, and who surprised me with a ticket for The Tower of London and an awesome breakfast before heading to the Tower!

The Buckingham Palace tour was the first I booked, even before I had a place to stay and a flight.  September 14 at noon, followed by the Garden Tour at 2.   The Buckingham Palace tour will be in the next post.

I left for London on September 11 and returned on the 15th.  

I was scheduled to fly from D.C.'s National Airport on American Airlines to Boston to London and return home on British Airways.  The first part did not work out well.  The flight to Boston was delayed several times so there was no guarantee that I would make the flight to London. American Airlines understood and rebooked me on a BA flight leaving at 10:45 p.m. from Dulles.   I know that flight well.   I headed out of National for Metro on the Blue Line changing at Rosslyn for the Silver Line to Dulles International Airport.  The travel time took about an hour.  I headed to the BA desk to check in and get a seat.  As this was a quick trip, no need to check in a bag.  Just a carry bag (which included my camera bag) and my handbag.  

As I headed toward TSA, I got a text from BA: the plane's departure time was moved to 11:45 p.m.  It is now only 4 p.m. After going through TSA, I spotted the newly opened Capital One Lounge for Venture X.  I have a Capital One venture card, but it is not the X. I walked in and asked can other Cap One Venture cards be used?  Turns out my card gives two free passes a year!  

The lounge opened only the week before.  I had a salad and a sandwich, a pastry, snacks, water, and coffee.  I had hoped to settle down in a comfy chair until it was time to head to the gate.   Lounges close at 9 p.m., but as this was the soft opening, the Capital One Lounge closed at 7 p.m.  Grabbed another bottle of water and a few more snacks and headed to the gate, to relax in a not-so-comfortable chair and waited... and waited.m. until the flight was called.  I used my airline pillow (a blue dog) to rest my head as I listened to the Nationals game.

Blue Dog enjoying the Capital One Lounge

Listening to the Nats game

Finally, as midnight approached, we were on the plane and ready to go.  The flight attendant brought out drinks and snacks and asked what I wanted to drink with dinner.  I said I planned to be asleep by the time dinner arrived as I already had taken 2 Tylenol PM pills.  The flight attendant laughed as he handed me a small bottle of wine, saying take it with me.  Wine went into my bag, and I fell asleep and did not wake up until shortly before breakfast was served.

Once off the plane, I headed straight for the exit -- no need to stop at baggage -- and Costa for a vanilla latte.  Browsed Smith and bought the latest Hello to read on the Heathrow Express.  I was staying in a Victorin Cottage in Walthamstow but could not check in until 3 p.m.   I spent the next few hours crossing things off my shopping list at Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace shops, including Coronation Christmas Ornaments and the official Coronation book, which is sold at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.

How rude - the bird on Churchill's head.  I was heading toward Westminster Abbey.  The overcast sky did not last long.

Eugene Cottage - a lovely Air BnB in Walthamstow, located on a path between two streets.  

The cottage was built in 1873 and is on a path between two streets.  Easy to catch a bus to the Walthamstow Central tube stop and Overground.  This Air BnB was about 1.7 miles from the place where I stayed for my previous two visits.   Walthamstow is lovely.  Easy access to central London and good places to eat.  After checking in and dropping off my bag, I grabbed my camera and headed back to central London.   I was on Oxford Street at 8 pm when I realized I never ate lunch, let alone dinner.  I try to avoid American fast-food places (unless I need to use the loo) but it was getting late, and I was hungry.  I headed straight for Shake Shack, as I knew one was nearby.  Hamburger, fries, a bottle of water, and a Shackmeister -- yes you can get a beer at Shake Shack in London.

I did not want to stay up too late as I had to be up by 7:30 a.m., to meet my friend Brent, at Liverpool Street Station at 8:45.  He is the lovely friend who gave me the ticket to the Tower. but had also invited me to breakfast.   I had no idea where I was being taken, but I expected to have breakfast at a cute local cafe.  We walked past the Gherkin, the Sky Garden, and other buildings before arriving at the Four Seasons Hotel at Trinity Square.  WOW!

The Gherkin

Not sure of the name of this church

Sky Gardens ceiling (main level)

the view as we approached the hotel - The Tower is now in view

Breakfast was in the Rotunda Bar.  We chose the Buffet - and my main dish was Eggs Benedict.  Yummy.  The pastries were also delicious.  Thank you, Brent!!

As Brent had an appointment, we said goodbye (and numerous thank yous from me) and I headed to The Tower which was about a block away.

I had only two full days in London so I asked a British friend what I should do on Wednesday (9/13). She suggested the new Crown Jewels House at the Tower.  I have visited the Tower numerous times, but not since the redesigned Crown Jewels House.

The weather was sunny and warm for my entire visit.  I never needed a sweatshirt or an umbrella.  

I did not spend all day at the Tower as I also wanted to visit the reopened National Portrait Gallery and, I hoped, get a ticket to Hamilton.

The Tower moat is now open as a garden and a place to walk. 

Photography is not permitted in the Jewels House.   The Jewel House underwent a major £2.5 million renovation in 2012.  if you have not visited the Crown Jewels since before 2012, I recommend spending a few hours at The Tower

St. Edward's Crown @Royal Collection

Queen Mary's Crown (worn by Queen Camilla) @Royal Collection

Imperial State Crown @Royal Collection

So much better to see the Coronation Jewels up close ... and not in the rain!!!


Interesting artwork in a tunnel heading toward the Tube

Just up the stairs to the Tube, Ma'am.

After getting on the Tube, I headed for Leicester Square and the Theatre ticket booth to see if I could get a ticket to Hamilton ... I also visited the newly reopened National Portrait Gallery.

1 comment:

izzyfalloni said...

Marlene, thank you for such a great post! I am hoping to visit London to see the Tower in particular in the next few years (need to wait until my baby is older) and this was a very enjoyable read, making me even more excited to visit. I have been following your blog for years, and I always enjoy your posts.