In Tuesday's post about book purchases, I mentioned that our flights to London had to be altered and our luggage didn't arrive with us. All three flights were exceptionally smooth, though, and we carry extra outfits and necessities to ensure that a luggage delay is not a total disaster. The man we talked to about retrieving our luggage was extremely courteous and competent -- and not having our wheeled bags meant not having to drag them through the tube! Wahoo! We arrived at our borrowed flat in Knightsbridge, bathed and rested before taking a walk around the neighborhood and through Harrod's, where a woman was singing opera in a formal gown on one of the balconies next to the Egyptian escalators. In the evening, I finished reading The Land of Decoration.
I must tell you about our funny moment when we arrived at the building. We knew the flat was a 3rd-floor walk-up (no lift) but there were no names on either the buzzer or the doors and when we arrived, we realized neither of us had bothered to inquire whether our host was referring to "3rd floor" in the British or American sense. What Americans refer to as the 1st floor is, of course, the "ground floor" in the UK. I guessed our host meant 3rd floor, British style, but Huzzybuns was uncertain and tried the key in the door of the 3rd floor flat, American style, very quietly. Nope. It was the next flat up (we were in a narrow building with only one flat per level). I counted 65 steps to the flat. Hopefully, we burned plenty of calories, last week.
On Sunday morning, the 18th, we had planned to head to Windsor Castle. But, since we weren't staying at a hotel and there was no doorman to accept our luggage from the courier, it was necessary to stick pretty close to "home" so we could dash back to the flat if we got a text saying our luggage was on its way. So, instead, we headed for Trafalgar Square and walked through the National Gallery for a bit. Most of Trafalgar Square was roped off for a St. Patrick's Day concert so I wasn't able to get a wide-angle view of Trafalgar, as I'd hoped -- just some side views, as above. That just means we have to return, right? I bought my copy of Fever by Lauren DeStefano in the Waterstone's at Trafalgar Square and husband bought Tea at Fortnum & Mason.
After eating lunch in the National Gallery (museum food is excellent in London), we walked past Charing Cross down to the Thames and across the bridge. We sauntered along the embankment, past the London Eye and enjoyed watching street performers. There was a very happy, celebratory crowd along the embankment, as Sunday was apparently the official day to celebrate St. Patrick's. Like typical tourists, we took a dozen shots of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament as we crossed back over the Thames.
From the embankment, we headed back on the tube to Knightsbridge and went to the Saatchi Gallery, which was recommended to me by a Twitter friend when I asked for recommendations to keep us occupied in the Knightsbridge area. We are officially in love with the Saatchi Gallery. It's a bright, cheerful, funky place. I hope you can enlarge this photo to see the look on the face of the man in the green shirt:
We walked through Partridge's of Sloane Square (a very pretty little grocery store) and sat in the Duke of York Square, watching small children on scooters and enjoying the atmosphere before heading back to the flat for a rest.
In the evening, we took a walk to the Royal Albert Hall to orient ourselves, since we were going to a concert at the Royal Albert, later on. It's a beautiful building, all lit up at night, isn't it?
We discovered we'd taken a longer route than necessary and returned to the flat a different way. Either way, the Royal Albert was just a 15- to 20-minute walk. Not bad at all. On the way back to the flat, we stopped to pick up dinner at a local grocery store.
We've seen the pre-made, easy-cook dinners they carry in English grocery stores, in the past, but haven't stayed in a place with an oven. So, it was really a treat to choose our evening meals, each day. On the first night, we had a lamb pie with squash casserole and salad. The second night, we chose this "Salmon and Brie en Croute," which we paired with a mushroom risotto that was out of this world.
Oh, my goodness that was heavenly. Why don't we have meals that taste home-cooked like this in our grocery stores? It was amazing. For breakfast each day, we had gluten-free meusli with milk from "only pure Jersey or Guernsey cows" and apricot yogurt, most days, which also had me wondering what on earth we do to our American cows. The difference in milk products between here and the UK is astounding.
By the time we'd eaten dinner, we were pretty much wiped out, although it was still fairly early. I read a bit of Kitty Cornered before caving in. I found that I was able to relax and read in the flat in a way that I'm seldom able to do in a hotel room, which was obviously a big bonus! More about our travels in a couple days.