Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Last night in London

Well, the wifi on the bus wasn't working, though I shouldn't have been surprised. For the four times we've been on the X90, the wifi's only worked once. So the last entry was added to the blog while sitting in the hotel lobby.

The journey to London wasn't much: the taxi was right on time, we got to Oxford about 9:30, in time to catch the 9:40 coach. It's a two hour journey to London, so we both nodded off on the trip in. We got off at Marble Arch, and then had to lug five suitcases (three large, one medium, and one small) half a mile to the hotel, at Two Hyde Park Square. Hard enough in the best of circumstances, but one of the suitcases' extendable handle had broken, so I was having to drag it with a baggage strap (not comfortable!).

We got here though, and the doorman, Victor, was brilliant. The room wasn't going to be ready for another couple of hours, so our luggage was stashed to one side, and he got us settled in the lobby where we could have a bite to eat. He also asked about our arrangements to get to Heathrow tomorrow morning, and helped us organise a bus to take us straight from the hotel to Terminal 3.

Well, we had a few hours to kill, so we decided to visit the Natural History Museum, a quick 30 minute walk through Hyde Park and into Kensington.

The Museum was terrific. Admission is free, although you have to submit to a search when you go in! They go through your bags, looking for anything sharp -- I guess they're worried about people damaging the displays.

We started in the 'Red Zone', which is about the Earth and the forces that shape it. Lots of stuff about volcanoes and earthquakes -- all very interesting, but slightly old hat to someone from New Zealand! So we shot through that quickly, and got to what I'd really come to see: the dinosaurs in the 'Blue Zone'.

You have to go through the Central Hall to get to the dinosaur exhibits, which is a beautiful vaulted room, with pride of place given to 'Dippy', the replica Diplodicus skeleton. Then you walk into the hall where you're greeted by a Brachiosaurus. They had skeletons of all types, including my favourite, Triceratops, and a life-size animated teenage Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Afterwards, we went through the dinosaur gift shop (where I caved and bought a Triceratops soft toy), Darwin Exhibition gift shop, and the Earth gift shop.

We had hoped that we might be able to hop on one of the tour buses, but by now it was after 4pm, so darkness was closing in. We got on a bus, then got off about five minutes later to have a look in a luggage shop that was having a sale (we wanted to see if they had affordable suitcases to replace the broken one).

After that, we wandered just down the road to Harrods, which was all lit up for Christmas. We went into the Food Halls (Juliette was looking for some Russian fudge), and bought some spiced Christmas coffee. On the way out, Juliette spotted some key rings in the shape of purses, but baulked at the GBP110.00 price tag. Of course, this was because (a) we were in Harrods and (b) there was a Gucci sign directly overhead!

Then it was back across the road to grab coffees from Starbucks, then back on the bus. We got off the bus at Hyde Park Corner Station, which was, unfortunately, the wrong place to get off -- we still had all of Hyde Park between us and the hotel -- so we took a long walk up Park Lane (it's a bit like walking around a Monopoly board when you're in London) to Oxford Street, where we picked up some London souvenirs, then along Bayswater Road to Hyde Park Street, then up to Hyde Park Square.

We found that Victor had moved all our luggage up to our room, so he fully deserved his GBP10 tip! And the room is wonderful, much better than the (more expensive) Grosvenor Hotel that we stayed in nearly three weeks ago. It's bigger, the carpet's nicer, it has its own kitchenette, and the bathroom is cleaner. We wish we'd stayed here the first night we spent in London.

Now we're settled in, had dinner, repacked the suitcases, and are ready for our flight to LA tomorrow. We might get a chance to visit the Tower of London, but the bus is coming to pick us up at 11:30, so the window of opportunity is very small!

No comments:

Post a Comment