I just returned yesterday from quite possibly the most perfect little 5 day stay in glorious London--my first visit was in 2011 and I surely won't wait another 7 years to go again. Weather was just right, too, 70-75. Non-stop on United to Heathrow, landed at 7 am Thursday and was through passport control in 20 minutes, onto the Heathrow Express (round trip about $50 US but at 15 minutes it was worth it) and at my hotel in Bayswater by 9 am. I really loved the location of The Caesar Hotel on Queen's Gardens, a quiet residential area with a park in the middle of the street, easy 10 minute walk from Paddington or to Queensway, where there were plenty of shops, restaurants and the Bayswater and Queensway tube stations. I averaged 7-8 miles of walking per day.
This trip I decided to go carry-on for the first time and my Travelpro 21" spinner was just right, though I did check it on the way home and used a LeSportsac travel tote on the plane. I may be a convert, at last! So nice to just be on my way after passport control.
I topped up my Oyster card--used 30 pounds in my 5 days there--and headed over to the V&A, arriving when they opened at 10, time for a scone and latte in the gorgeous cafe and a poke around before my 11:30 slot to view the fabulous Frida Kahlo exhibit--I booked a month ago & good thing since it had sold out and missing it would have been disappointing as she's my favorite artist. Then it was off to the Tower to see the ravens--I had toured the buildings and seen the crown jewels previously, and frankly, I am a total nut about the ravens--I follow the Ravenmaster on facebook and know their names based on the color-coded bands on their legs--so this visit was just to sit and observe them, they're quite busy and entertaining and Jubilee sat next to me on a bench and patiently posed for pictures while eyeing whatever food people nearby had in their hands--they aren't shy about snatching it away given half a chance. Near the edge of the cage area I spied the perfect souvenir--one of their feathers! As I hadn't slept a wink on the plane jet lag hit me much earlier than usual and by 4 pm I was done. Had a sandwich for dinner and made my way back to the hotel, asleep by 8 pm.
Friday I took the train to Bletchley Park from Euston Station--me and a train car full of giddy kids and their parents heading to Harry Potter World. The Park was easy to find and I spent about 3.5 hours there exploring the various Huts, displays, and the Mansion plus the lovely lake area before heading back to London by 3. Stopped at the British Library to see what they had on special display, plus it's a treat to see Jane Austen's portable writing desk, then off to Regent St for some shopping. I have long wanted to visit Liberty of London as I'm a quilter and their fabric is legendary, and of course the store itself is just a revelation architecturally. I spent over an hour selecting several bundles of fabric and then wandered the area, finding Carnaby Street along the way.
Saturday was market day--Portobello Road and Camden. I already knew the 2 lines I needed most weren't running, District and Circle, but Portobello was an easy & pleasant 15 minute walk from the hotel. Found a vintage sewing caddy for my collection and also some really cool Players Cigarette trading cards from the 1930s, had a great chat with the seller as well. Explored the whole length of the market, had an iced coffee and then got on bus 27 to Camden. Interesting re-purpose of the old horse market stalls and quite an enormous area to explore inside, but the goods weren't quite my taste, though lots of intriguing street food options. I did have an early dinner at the wonderful Cheese Bar, all kinds of dishes and platters featuring artisanal British cheeses, would definitely return again. Back to Queensway via bus and got pastries for the morning as I had a very early start for the highlight of my trip...