I just returned Tuesday from a wonderful little 4 day jaunt to London--I arrived at 8 am so I considered that a full day, if a bit exhausted by the time I gave in to jet lag and went back to my hotel. This is my second time doing London as a reward for getting through summer (my job is INSANE from June-Sept, with this year seeing me working 10 hr days for 4 months & counting) and it may well become a new tradition--London is just so easy, yet full of endless delights. I work in new things/places to go with re-visits to favorites.
My second time going carry-on, and this was a bit frazzling as by the time I boarded (group 4, seat 50) the overhead bins were full. I stowed my case a few rows back and since I was on the aisle moved quickly to get back there upon arrival, otherwise would have been like a salmon trying to swim upstream. Coming home it was no problem. Heathrow was a 5 minute breeze to clear immigration, just scan your passport and look at the screen and off you go. I chose to stay again at the Caesar on Queen's Gardens, a 10 minute walk from Paddington (used the Heathrow Express) and in the lovely residential Bayswater area near Notting Hill and Hyde Park. Dropped my bags, topped up my Oyster card (I used about 40 pounds this time as I took the DLR and Thames clipper) and headed off to my most favorite place in London, the Tower. Spent some time with the ravens--enjoyed Rocky (blue leg band) chasing pigeons and eating crisps, and Merlina (pink band, she's the Ravenmaster's darling) being "hormonal and territorial" according to one of the raven team, flying in reconnaissance-like circles through the grounds and looking for her mate, Jubilee. This is my 3rd visit there, so took another Yeoman Warder tour, got a hilariously curmudgeonly guy, went in a few buildings then had a snack in the café (excellent food options there) and wandered a bit more, more lurking near the ravens. It was a gorgeous warm day, so staying upright and out of doors helped combat my tiredness and just made me so happy to be back in London. After the Tower I went to Regent St as there's a shop I wanted to buy a few garments from, then Liberty just because it's so uniquely fabulous...fabric and Christmas shop were perused, by then it was near 5 and I was getting droopy & decided I was too tired to forage any further for food and thus had a Caesar salad and glass of wine at Arthur's Café on the 2nd floor. Even on an hour's sleep on the plane and awake for nearly 24 hrs I managed to walk 9 miles that day! London's sights just spur me on to see more.
Saturday means Portobello Road market! The District and Circle lines were closed so fortunately Central took care of me for the weekend. Lovely morning to poke around the antique stalls and lots of interesting charity shops, finished by 1 and off to Bank St tube station to catch the DLR to Greenwich. What a cool town it is! Explored the market--plenty of quality hand-crafted items and street food--& Cutty Sark, then the Queen's House and Maritime Museum, finally trudged up the hill to the Royal Observatory to straddle the meridian line. Incredibly beautiful view from the hill, lots of people enjoying picnics in the park below. A seller in the market recommended taking the Thames clipper back, saying she never missed a chance to do that, so I did--how impressive to see London from the water, especially the Tower and London Eye. Dinner was at the Victoria Pub on Strathearn Pl, sort of between Bayswater Rd's Lancaster Gate stn and Paddington. Lots of appealing choices on the menu but I was in need of fish & chips with mushy peas and an enormous lager. Heading back I made the mistake of thinking I knew where I was and ended up on Edgeware Rd, had to backtrack down to get to the hotel.