As soon as I got off the train at King's Cross, my first stop was Platform 9 and 3/4. I had been waiting for this long enough for the detour. I dragged A along and after missing a few brick walls, we could finally see the entrance.
Then we headed straight to the high street - yes, Oxford Street! By instinct, I was reminded of all my shopoholic girl friends. And a cautionary note to them: never go there with your husband. They can't tell a coat from a jacket and they will not understand why you have to try on several pairs of shoes in numerous shops before you buy one pair! You know what I am saying?
Once I had satisfactorily covered the entire length and breadth of the high street, twice over, we headed towards Piccadilly Circus. I could spend the entire evening watching creative ads on the bill board there, and we had a chocolate & tiramisu ice-cream cone each too. It was still crowded at 11 pm and bubbling with energy. Later I realized it was a typical London scene, be it day or night. Some misbehaving lots banterings over beer, a few lost tourists wandering and executives, students and pedestrians of the city walking (almost running) to vanish into the nearest tube station.
Day two and three were mainly for sightseeing. Our second day started at Hyde Park, and then took us to Buckingham Palace to Baker Street to London Eye, walking down the bridge to Westminster Abbey (on the Rose Line, if you are a Dan Brown fan) and then to Trafalgar Square. From Hyde Park we followed the Royal Carriage past Wellington Arch and were in time for the Change of Guards at the Palace and quite unexpectedly the band played Jacko's 'thriller' to pay him tribute. That was a nice touch. At Baker Street, after lingering for a minute or two near Holmes' statue, we headed for my share (and more than his share for it was A's 3rd visit and he has sworn never to go again!) of Madame Tussaud's. I also liked the views of the city from London Eye and the level of energy and activity around it. There were entertainers dressed in interesting costumes dancing, singing, playing tricks and generally merry-making, creating a lively atmosphere.
Next day we visited the St. Paul's Cathedral where we climbed the spiral staircase to the Whispering Gallery known for its excellent acoustics and got lost among the carvings, paintings, sculpture and mosaics, Tower of London where we got a chance to see the Koh-i-noor (now cut into 105.6 carats from 186 and set in Her Majesty's crown), the adjacent tower bridge and then spent the rest of the afternoon in the zoo. That we got lost in Camden Town market was another story altogether!
I couldn't wait for sunday to arrive for then was my long awaited visit to Windsor Castle and a dinner at Gordon Ramsay's Maze! A had been a darling (as always) to have a table booked and I was ecstatic. Unfortunately we couldn't make it beyond the Heathrow tube station that day, but later we agreed it was divine intervention! So we hung around the airport shops, refreshed my memories of Krispy Kreme and Starbucks, discovered some hitches in my links the next morning (which we would remain unaware of had we not lingered on), made some last minute changes for my return and headed back to the hotel. By then my feet had swollen beyond recognition and we were so tired that we weren't even feeling bad we had to cancel dinner at Maze, so we let it go with the promise that we will be back soon, may be just for a gastronomic tour of London!! Or two :)
London is a city of grandeur - classic, rich, aristocratic, lively and very energetic. A city whose streets, buildings and squares, each have a saga - steeped in history and culture. A city from where trains commence to take off to Hogwarts, a city that has seen art, culture and industry evolve through their crests and troughs, a city that has witnessed Roman invasions, World Wars and enjoyed fruits of Imperialism, a city of Shakespeare and Winston Churchill, a city of gardens, palaces, museums, of sculptors, painters and theatre, a city destroyed by the Great Fire, a city that was bombed and recovered, a city gearing up for 2012 Olympics, a city dressed in a fabric woven in a very cosmopolitan thread. A class apart.
And I was content to see glimpses of it all and will be back for more.