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London, day 10: 22 September 2006

Started: 2006-09-27 07:10:25

Submitted: 2006-09-27 07:29:04

Visibility: World-readable

2155 BST 21 September 2006

Proposed itinerary for Friday, our Last Day in London:

  1. Tube: District/Circle to Westminster; Jubilee to London Bridge.
  2. Bramah Tea and Coffee Museum. Shop for hard-to-shop-for tea lovers we know. (Open 10:00 to 18:00.)
  3. Tate Modern.
  4. Look at Globe Theatre. Don't pay money for it.
  5. Walk to Waterloo Station. Take the train to Hampton Court. (35 minute ride, departs every 30 minutes.)
  6. Visit Hampton Court Gardens Maze. £3.50.
  7. Return to Waterloo.
  8. Walk to and visit London Eye. Expensive, but should provide a good view.
  9. Go home happy, with a greater appreciation for British history and culture. (Priceless.)

1045 BST 22 September 2006

Art exhibit at Gloucester Road station: City Glow, Mountain Whisper. Advertised all over town along Underground escalators.

City Glow, Mountain Whisper at Gloucester Road Station
City Glow, Mountain Whisper at Gloucester Road Station

1545 BST 23 September 2006

Now on board G-YMMB, in seat 36K, three rows from the very back of the plane. Kiesa and I managed to get seats next to each other, and the frumpy woman who sat in our aisle seat on the way out is on this plane. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

Friday morning, I headed out to buy granola and coffee for breakfast, from the nearby mini-Tesco and Starbucks. In the elevator going back up, I made two American Airlines flight attendants jealous of my coffee. This hotel seems to be a designated crew rest hotel; I've seen more American Airlines crew here than I've seen in any one place before, airports included.

Holiday Inn, Kensington Forum
Holiday Inn, Kensington Forum

We headed again to Southwark, this time London Bridge station, and walked to the Bramah Tea and Coffee Museum. We weren't really inclined to pay £4 each to enter, so we hit the gift shop (which was less outfitted than I expected) and ended up with some interesting-sounding tea.

Next was the Tate Modern, a short walk away, inconsiderately not near any tube stops. It didn't start raining seriously until I was in the museum. Kiesa didn't feel inclined to stick around and see the fantastically bizarre displays of the self-proclaimed "art", so she headed to Piccadilly Circus for shopping, with a designated rendezvous time of 1330.

I saw all of the free galleries in the two hours alloted, although I didn't study much of the art in detail. My favorites were the photography and the less-abstract sculptures. One exhibit featured four screens displaying musical scenes from movies, stitched together to form some sort of concert. All of the art was created explicitly to be art, even if it was inspired by comic books (I forget the painting) or everyday objects (Andy Warhol's Pop Art).

After rendezvousing with Kiesa, we ate lunch (pre-packaged sandwiches, ubiquitous in the UK) and headed out for our next adventure. It was still drizzling, ad definitely overcast, so we scrubbed plans to visit Hampton Court Gardens Maze and headed instead to the Imperial War Museum, featuring exhibits from the past century of warfare. Most of the artifacts were Royal Army, but the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force were also represented. The basement held exhibits from World War I and II, and other conflicts since then. The spy and special forces exhibit upstairs was also interesting.

The sun came out by the time we left the museum. Had we been paying enough attention, we could have left the museum a bit earlier and gotten to the Maze. Instead, we walked to the London Eye (known to some as the "London Eyesore") and I tried to figure out if being that high without anything visibly solid in front of me would freak me out. After some contemplation, I decided it would be ok, so we queued for £13.50 tickets, each, queued to enter, had our bags pseudo-searched, queued a bit more, and finally entered the slowly-rotating capsule, which took us high above the Thames, giving a great view of this section of London, especially the Shell building next door.

London Eye
London Eye

After our "flight", we searched for dinner options and headed to SoHo, seeking out the Thai restaurant we didn't make it to on Sunday. When we got there, the menu didn't look inspiring, so we headed back to a few interesting restaurants we passed and ended up in Hummus Bros, a "humus bar", which serves humus, eaten by hand with pitas, with various toppings in the middle. It was quite good.

On the way back home, we stopped by Starbucks (which is quite popular in London), where Kiesa had hot chocolate and I had a decaf mocha, and drank it on the street overlooking a casino styling itself "Las Vegas", next to a very subdued art deco building -- no gleam, just one color of stone.

We headed back to the hotel and prepared to leave, although we didn't actually pack until the morning.

Tube trips on Friday:

  1. Gloucester Road to Westminster via Circle; via Jubilee to London Bridge.
  2. Southwark to Waterloo via Jubilee; to Labmeth North via Northern.
  3. Waterloo to Leicester Square via Northern.
  4. Piccadilly Circus to Gloucester Road via Piccadilly.