Our first four days in London -- only one to go -- have been filled with traditional tourist visits and venues (just had to visit a palace or two), food, walking, and window shopping. Here are some highlights:
Day 1 -- we step into Hyde Park after a 1 minute walk from our hotel, the Kensington House Hotel and are at the gates of Kensington Palace within seconds. After a tour, including the room where Queen Victoria was informed of her ascension to the throne, we take a long, leisurely stroll to Harrod's, where we dine in the Food Hall on fish and chips (of course) and smoked salmon. Can you say foodie's paradise? Jams, teas, chocolates and all at severely elevated prices. Off to the 4th floor to rub elbows with Paddington Bear and every toy known to mankind. The windows are a tribue to the newest 007 movie -- over the top -- as is most of the entire Harrod's experience. Dinner at Zaika, a cool Indian/French place in colors of purple and pink (more on food later).
Day 2 - Grey London lives up to its name. Rainy and cold. We hop on a double-decker tour bus which takes us past all the famous sights -- Westminster Abby, the Royal Mews, the Parliament, Big Ben and finally end at the Tower of London for a 1 1/2 hour visit through the Crown Jewel exhibit and to the White Tower. For history buffs, this place has it all -- torture devices, a chopping block, royal armours, cannons, swords. Poor Anne Bolyne.
Day 3 -- Off to Westminister Pier to take a cruise along the Thames, a great way to see the Tate Modern from that vintage point, as well as London Bridge. We find a great, hole in the wall Turkish place, Troia, for lunch just behind the British Airways Eye, a monstrosity of a ferris wheel built for the millennium which takes you on a 30-minute high-in-the-sky ride over London. No thanks. Abby opts for the nearby playground. We make our way back past St. James to gawk at Buckingham Palace, where the Queen is in residence, according to the flag flying overhead. By the way, happy 60th, Prince Charles. Yesterday was his big day. Dinner at the Roof Garden on High Street in Kensington a trendy 7th floor restaurant that has the best kids menu to date, salmon with mashed potatos or organic pork with brussel sprouts!
Day 4 --Up Church Street past quaint antique shops to Portobello Road, a mass of vintage shops and stalls selling everything from sterling silverware, to teacups, to the usual assortment of British bric-brac. We wander back into the neighborhood, with stellar facades, and find a few quaint kids shops and even one for me, Bumpsville. Back down the hill to the Orangery at Kensington Palace for an afternoon tea of smoked salmon and dill sandwiches, crumpets with heavy cream...and tea, of course.