One - Arrival in London and Early Exploration
After a brief detour by way of Chicago (Hello!? That's the wrong direction),
we were on our way aboard a United Airlines 747 en route to
Heathrow (click for an interesting look at all Heathrow flights).
flight itself was a little disappointing,
as we had been accustomed
to the very nice entertainment system we had experienced on Northwest
Airlines during our previous
trip to Europe.
Rather than on-demand films and games, we were
given a strict schedule and only a few films to choose from.
I chose Premonition,
which wasn't the best film in the world, but it served its purpose
for this occasion.
"I have a
premonition about this flight."
It was an overnight flight and we were able to sleep a decent
amount, making for a pretty nice flight overall. However, as we
approached London, some excitement ensued, as the aircraft was
struck by lightning. Twice! We saw a couple of very bright flashes
of light, each accompanied by a loud "crack," but no
damage was done. Some heavy storms were in the area and this would
prove to be a bigger
story for England as the days went on. But at this time, it
just added a little flare to the trip and we were soon on the ground
and seeking the Underground.
The tube system was quite easy to navigate -- perhaps the best I've
encountered -- and we made our way to
Barkston Gardens Hotel,
which was a decent room with a fantastic location; just around the
corner from the Earl's Court Underground station. However, at this
moment the station was closed due to some flooding and we instead set
about on foot to explore the local area.
We found a nice man inside a nearby pub and inquired about a place
He recommended the Troubadour,
which was an interesting mix of cafe, art
gallery, music club,
deli. It was a fine
choice and we enjoyed our meal before returning to the hotel for a
change of clothes and a little rest.
With Knightsbridge being within walking distance and the tube issues
at the moment, this would be a good night to visit Harrods.
(Click to Enlarge)
famous department store is named after Charles Henry Harrod, who opened a
family grocers shop on the site in 1849. The shop has grown to become the destination
for expensive and glamourous shopping, priding itself on its motto Omnia
Omnibus Ubique -- All things, for all people, everywhere.
Bought by Egyptian businessman Mohamed Al Fayed in 1985, the seven-storey building
sits upon 4.5 acres and is illuminated by 11,500 lightbulbs. Harrods contains
over 300 departments, selling luxury items from furniture to polo mallets and
wax coats for dogs.
On our way back, we noticed a very large crowd gathering on a
corner, generating quite a good deal of excitement. We crept up close
enough to ask a few people what the commotion was about and it turns
out that J.K.
Rowling was there for a live reading and book signing at the Natural
History Museum, to begin at midnight, when the latest Harry Potter book officially went on
Making our way past the euphoric masses, we we grabbed a quick bite at Pizza
Organic and then headed to a Sainsbury's grocery store for
some supplies. Upon entering the store, we came upon a rather large line
of people stretching all the way back to the main doors. It seemed strange
to have so many shoppers at such a late hour, but we soon discovered the
line for those waiting for a copy of the new Harry Potter book with the
midnight hour fast approaching. As we shopped, we heard many young women
scream with delight as their books were scanned and paid for.
Back at the hotel, I turned on the television and encountered a rather
strange game show called Glitterball.Callers
pay 75 pence for
the opportunity to call and try to guess a word for a big cash
prize. It held our attention for a few minutes before becoming largely
monotonous. Yet somehow I watched on, waiting for at least one person to correctly guess a word. This did not come quickly and it started to get annoying. But hey, we were in London.