Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Out of Town and Out of Ideas

OK, so I cheated. That's not a real blog title, it's actually our trivia team name. Also, by trivia "team" I mean me and my other half. Except for recently when we welcomed a third foreigner to our team, our science ringer and my dear friend, M. She was a star and helped us to continue our reign as last place team. It's a record that we are defending valiantly.
Contrary to popular belief, this is Tower Bridge not London Bridge. Shock! Surprise! Disappointment.

That, however was not even close to the highlight of her 10-day trip. We hit all the major tourist sites, plus a couple of Harry Potter locations, because since 2000, what is a trip to London without a stop at platform 9 3/4? When I was here all those years ago the kind folks at King's Cross Station set up a trolley half through a wall with a Platform 9 3/4 sign above it. We took many a goofy picture on our way to Hogwarts. Unfortunately, due to station renovations, the trolley and sign are now against a fake brick wall in a little temporary room outside the station. Not quite the same feeling, but there was still a queue to take a photo.

Beefeater tour guide at the Tower of London
We also spent a blustery and thoroughly enjoyable afternoon exploring the Tower of London and having a walk through the City of London. Had a brilliant tour through the Tower by a Yeoman Warder - you know them as Beefeaters. He was full of good stories and witty to boot. Other obligatory stops included photo opp for Tower Bridge - that's the one you probably think of when you hear "London Bridge" ie the pretty one - and the real London Bridge, which is markedly less impressive. We of course, took the natural fleeing-dementors photo on the Milennium Bridge. We also saw the Globe, St. Paul's (pre-occupation), Fleet Street and everything in between. Now, granted, we saw a little more than we had planned because I couldn't find the nearest tube station, but it was still lots of fun.

Having been on the London Eye twice in the last few months, I can honestly say, it's a brilliant tourist attraction. 30 minutes floating above London is worth £16. I'm even getting good at pointing out the more obscure London landmarks, so much so that the other people in the pod are starting to listen to me. I managed to suppress the urge to disseminate a little misinformation, but I can't say I wasn't tempted. However my inner tour guide won the battle. I wonder if the Beefeater tour guides at the Tower of London ever make things up.

Yes, that is a baboon made of wire at the Tower of London.
We also saw Wicked, "the best musical of the decade!" Interestingly, it's across the street from Billy Elliot, "the best musical of the decade!" You just can't trust any advertising these days. The lament of the 99 percent?

Our highlight day was a trip to Bath, so named for its baths. Not particularly nice porcelain varieties, mind you, but the ancient, get naked with members of the general public, Roman type. I'd been to see them 10 years ago and they're just as interesting today. I do have to mention, however, that the queue goes from two people to one hundred in a matter of seconds when the Saturday morning train from London arrives. We beat the crowds - travel triumph. Of complete luck, admittedly.

We loved the baths, the Jane Austin Museum and the lovely weather in such a beautiful city. Bath is worth a day trip for any London visitors, not just because of the standard tourist attractions of the Roman ruins, Austin and the Royal Crescent, but because it is an architecturally gorgeous city. The cobblestone streets lined with bath stone buildings are a easy place to while away a day of leisurely wandering. They also have some pretty impressive shopping options if that's your bent. Most impressive for me, however was that they have an all new shopping area and designed the buildings both to look modern, but also to blend with the older architecture, utilising similar designs and bath stone. It's not often that cities put that kind of effort into making new buildings fit with the old. Now whether any of it goes with the Romoan architecture is an entirely different question.
Roman Baths in Bath. Not sure how keen I am to swim in that.

Overall, a wonderful two weeks with M. Did I mention that she cooks? Oh, does she ever. Not only did we have the pleasure of her company, but we ate like royalty. No downside to that! She even left her buttermilk pancake recipe (much requested, rarely bequeathed) and brought real New England maple syrup. Naturally, we haven't made them once since she left.

I did make Rice Krispie treats, yesterday, though, and they are a callin'.

See you all on the flip side. Just don't expect pancakes.

2 comments:

  1. Yes, yes, the architecture was lovely and the baths were historic and exhaustively narrated. But all that about Bath without a mention of the fudge?? Multiple free samples one of which was still warm and ooey gooey chocolate heaven! Deserves more than a footnote missy! I also await the next logical entry, an in depth look at the haka and, of course, daffodil headwear.

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  2. I stand corrected. The fudge was divine. In fact, I may, in the future, refuse to each fudge that is not freshly made and still warm.

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