My Irish Da would turn over in his grave if he knew I went to England, let alone loved any part of it!
First, I must acknowledge that London is one of the more expensive place to visit. I knew this going into the trip. My first time here I wanted to be a simple tourist. Our plans did not include blending in or immersing in local culture. Here, I wanted to spend the few days allotted to see and do things I had heard of so often. My priorities were Big Ben, Harrods, Tower of London, etc. the places and landmarks I've seen in movies and read about for years. My lovely sister Kimberly, who has lived thousands of miles for me for far too long, met me in Boston and we fly over together. I was so happy for her company.
We knew that for the better part of our journey we would be taking things as they come. No reservations, no plans, and no schedules! In the city of London we splurged a wee bit since the rest of our days we would stay wherever, as long as it was affordable.
We booked a room at the Leonard Hotel. Almost $200 a night! Very posh, close to Hyde Park, and a fun treat. The concierge on duty, no matter what time of the day or night we came or went, always had a smile for us. And, always had a kind word, good advice, and even engaging conversation when not otherwise occupied. It's the little things like this that can make or break a hotel stay - not to mention having the softest hotel sheets I have ever felt and truly the nicest pillows on which to sleep! Next time I will definitely look for cheaper accommodations, but it was nice to start our trip in comfort.
We spent time just walking. Visiting Harrod's, much ado about nothing there. It's like a city in itself. One where a plain cotton Tee cost upwards of $80! We walked to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliment - both as cool as expected.
We took in as much of Hyde Park as we could before the sun went down. It is very much like Boston Commons, only on a much grander scale. In other words, we loved it!
Strangers are a Travelers best friend.
We had arranged tickets to see Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty's Theater on our first night So, after walking around all day we went in and headed straight to the bathrooms with our backpacks to change out of our day garb and did our best to look fitting for such an event. I really love hitting the theater no matter where I travel. This night ranked high in my favorites theater exploits. The show was brilliant and the venue amazing. Worth every penny.
We decided to walk back to the hotel. It was a windless mild night. A few blocks from the theater a man came running up to us from behind. We were still high from the show and enjoying our night stroll. Bad travelers that we were, his sudden presence didn't even faze us.
As it turns out, my sister had dropped her passport. She had meant to leave it in the hotel safe when we left for the day. But, she forgot. This total stranger ran more than a block to reunite her with it. To me, that says a lot about the city as a whole.
Read about our next 48 hours of fun in London here!