Monday, August 23, 2010
What I Learned In London, Part 1
London turned out to be a great last-minute excursion for 5 days. This city had never held much appeal for me. I have never been enthralled with royalty, I have never been a bland meat n' potatoes gal, nor does classical British (Gothic, Roman, Tudor, etc.) design and decor catch my fancy, and I have never heard of the weather being highly desirable. And shopping? I can do that anywhere, who needs London for that? Or so I thought. First, I learned that as far as British royalty goes, in my personal opinion, Buckingham Palace, although palatial I suppose, is not very pretty. It's just a big ol' building with a big ol' gate surrounded by lots of concrete. There are no flowers, bushes, hedges, trees, or landscaping of any sort to soften its gray, stony appearance. I think the Windsors can afford at least a few plants. I'm sure the guards can water them, they don't seem to have much to do besides standing there and occasionally marching from one spot to another. I'm sure they'd be glad to break up their boredom with an additional task and getting in touch with nature. Maybe their tall black hats could be used for planters? Soren had set my expectation that the food offerings would be classically British and I was pleasantly surprised to find that healthy, delicious meals were always easy to find. Not a Fish & Chips nor Bangers and Mash passed these lips. We ate salads, sushi, pasta, and more. One day, we purchased the 24 hour bus tour (thanks Jane!) and yes, we were those tourists on one of those iconic double-decker tour buses. It was a great way to see the sights. What we lost in depth by not venturing inside certain sights due to tired and hungry kids, we gained in efficiency by viewing the whole of London from the confines of our topless upper deck with the wind in our hair and a comical (and surprisingly not cheesy) tour guide. This experience provided me with a newfound appreciation for the architecture and design of both the old buildings and the city itself. I love how after the great fire London was rebuilt around it's original medieval plan and the little medieval lanes still exist between contemporary highrise buildings. We had only a bit of rain, nothing that kept us indoors or under umbrellas for long. And we did see a bit of sun. And the shopping? Well, I did a lot of damage. A whopping seven pounds for a scarf. We thought Paris was expensive. Compared to London, Paris is a bargain-fest! Shopping in London helped me get more in touch with my inner French girl in that I only want to buy what I truly love and what will stand the test of time. My closet space is limited for the year afterall. And it helps too if I need it and not just want it. But I lucked out, I not only felt a need for a scarf (every stylish European woman under 80 is wearing a scarf and if everyone is doing it, then the fashionista in me translates this into need), the scarf that I fell in love with was only 7 pounds. I've been well-trained by Soren to know that really equals around 11 dollars. Still a bargain in my mind. And it also relieves my guilt about spending anything on a scarf when I have several left behind at home-home in the interest of not bringing too many to Paris. Although my mom, who helped me pack, probably has a different opinion on this matter. And Harrods? Wow. Wow, wow, wow. But I felt more in my element browsing around in Selfridges. Also a wow. Both overwhelming. I am definitely not a Harrods gal. I guess that explains why I'm happy with my 7 pound scarf. (My blog isn't letting me post photos for some reason so I'll trouble-shoot that and get some London photos up soon).