We got an early start today – a bit too early, actually, because we ended up missing out a bit. We travelled to the northern end of Notting Hill to see the famous market along Portobello Road, but there were very few stands set up by the time we got there at 9, and none of the cute shops were open either. We wound our way down to the main area of Notting Hill, seeing some very cool architecture along the way. Then the Kensington High Street, followed by a quick peak at Kensington Palace (didn’t see the Princess Di memorial, though). We finally made it into Westminster Abby, which is where I saw possibly the coolest thing I’ve seen on this trip – the Tomb of Queen Elizabeth I. Besides the typical gate around it, I was right next it. Crazy. I mean, I’m still having a time grasping the reality that her remains are in the tomb, and I was right there. Nutty. Sir Isaac Newton is also buried there. It’s an amazing place.
Today was all about the wandering around with not a lot of direction. We walked, and walked some more, stopping to buy snacks along the way to refuel. I also picked up “‘Tis” the second Frank McCourt memoir (I bought “Angela’s Ashes” at the airport and finished it yesterday). I recommend at least the first one – it is really vivid and well-told. Anyway, we walked down and discovered a little hidden area that was quite beautiful, sat in the sun (yes, sun!) along the Victoria Embankment of the Thames, and then travelled up to St. Pauls where we rested in the sun some more. A French cafe called our name, so we had to pop in for some extravagant sweets. Then more walking to burn it off – up to the Museum of London, where we saw a pretty interesting exhibit on the great fire of 1666.
I’ve been noticing some great things Londoners have done that we should take note of in the states. I’ve already mentioned the marking for vegetarian-friendly foods. Their tube also tells you when the next train will arrive (as well as the next two!), and they have free papers for commuters in the morning and in the evening. They also don’t seem to honk nearly as much as New York drivers. And at the zebra (prounced like debra) crossings, they tell you which direction to look so you don’t get run over looking the wrong way.
Which reminds me – does anyone out there know why the UK decided to switch things up and have the drivers on the left side of the road instead of the right? Or why the rest of the world chose the other way? No one’s been able to tell me yet.
I’m doing a load of laundry now (thanks Richard!) and resting up because man, its a bit of a switch from sitting at a desk all day to walking around for 8 hours a day. But I love it. Tomorrow we’ll take a boat into The City (or back home, depending on weather), visit The Tower and Greenwich (where I’ll be able to sync my watch to perfect Greenwich Mean Time) and hopefully get afternoon tea. I can’t believe I’ve been on holiday for almost a week now. It’s flown, but I’ve managed to fit so much into just over six days.