Since our cruise embarked on Monday, we sprinted out of work on Friday, and went for a red-eye to London so we'd have most of the weekend to explore. This is our 4th visit to London, all pre-cruise, so we've hit the major tourist sites already. We've also done most of the museums that we're interested in. So this time we plan to just visit some of the parks and gardens in the surrounding areas, and a few scattered smaller sites that we haven't had time to see on past visits. Very relaxed, compared to our usual crazy style!
We arrived at LHR a little after noon, and caught the Heathrow Express to Paddington. We hadn't arranged any particular transportation prior to arrival; there are tons of trains to Central London, so we just grabbed the first one that showed up. The ticket machine near the platform was broken so we bought tickets onboard from the conductor, and because the machine was broken she sold us the tickets at the lower ticket machine price. From Paddington it was not too far a cab ride to our hotel, the Rubens at the Palace. Trying this because our favorite hotel, the 41 (a sister property next door), is running about double the price!
They had our room ready for us which was great, so we had a shower and grabbed some fresh clothes, then headed out to explore. We spent a few minutes poking around St-Clement Danes, which is now the RAF Church. London always makes the World Wars come to life for us and we felt that history here too.
By now the airplane breakfast was wearing off so we wandered down Fleet Street and stopped off at Ye Olde Chesire Cheese pub for some refreshments. English pubs operate similarly to German Biergartens in that most of the time there's no table service; you have to order and pick up at a counter, then find your own seat. This pub has been around a long time; a good place for a pint!
After that nice snack we walked to St. Etheldreda's Church- a building dating back to the 1300s that we'd tried to visit on a prior trip, but back then it foiled us because it was closed unexpectedly. This time, it was open, but there was a wedding going on! So, we only got to see a little of it because we didn't want to crash the wedding. Foiled again, but still a nice church, and we did get to see more this time! We didn't get any good pictures from the inside but here's an old one of the exterior from a prior visit - the window looks even better from inside!
After that we went to St. John's Gate where there is a museum about the Order of St. John - interesting enough but glad it was a small museum. Museums and red-eye flights often lead to sleepwalking...
From here we went back across the river to the interesting markets in Southwark; love just wandering here and seeing what's for sale. We wanted to go wine tasting in Vinopolis but neither of us had the urge for wine tasting at this point - so we took the elevator up the Oxo tower and enjoyed some nice views of the Thames instead:
After a double espresso we found some energy, and decided to go out to the Chelsea Embankement, and walk around Battersea Park. It was shaping up to be a really lovely evening, and the views of the river and the bridges were great:
Here's another shot of the two of us (well, Chris and my shadow) on the Albert Bridge - love that blue sky tonight!
After a few more miles of wandering, we finally were running out of steam so we headed back to the hotel to figure out some dinner. Their restaurant was full which was a shame; we'd eaten there a few years back and liked it - and we also had a certificate for two free drinks! So the concierge arranged for us to have our drinks in the bar, and we had a nice casual dinner there as well. It was relaxing, and very tasty. Finally, I think we've earned a good night's sleep, which we will need in order to tackle Kew Gardens tomorrow (Sunday)! And then we embark on Silver Cloud Monday!
Last: Ganges Voyager II (Uniworld) - India's Golden Triangle & the Sacred Ganges - Feb 2017 (review)
Silver Explorer - Along the Humboldt Current, Guayaquil to Valparaíso - Oct 2017
River Beatrice (Uniworld) - Danube - April 2016 (photo review)
SS Catherine (Uniworld) - Burgundy and Provence - March 2015 (review)
Silver Cloud - Eastern Med - Istanbul to Athens - October 2014 (photo review)
Silver Cloud - North Atlantic - Tower Bridge to Reykjavik - August 2014 - (photo review)
SS Antoinette (Uniworld) - Castles on the Rhine - Basel to Amsterdam - April 2014 (photo review)
Silver Explorer - Central America - Colon to Puerto Caldera - October 2013 (photo review)
Avalon Affinity - Danube - Vienna to Passau - June 2013(flooded! - awesome land trip instead )
MS Sun Boat III - Nile River - November 2012 (pics1) (pics2)
Silver Wind - Athens to Rome - June 2012 (report) (Greece pics) (Italy pics)
Celebrity Xpedition - Galapagos - November 2011 (Peru pics) (Galapagos pics)
Silver Explorer - Longyearbyen to Tromso - August 2011 (report) (Svalbard pics) (Tromso pics)
Silver Wind - Cape Town to Cape Town - Feb 2011 (pics)
Silver Cloud - London to Nice - September 2010 (France pics) (Spain and Portugal pics)
Silver Wind - Black Sea - June 2010 (pics)
Silversea PAII - Antarctica - Dec 09 (pics)
Tahitian Princess 8/09; Insignia 11/08; Sea Princess 8/08; Millenium 6/08; Nautica 1/08; Nautica 11/07; Regatta 4/07; Tahitian Princess 1/07; Carnival Spirit 8/06; Insignia 5/06; etc...