London (and Surrounding Areas): Days 1-4

We’re finally in London!

Our first day was a bit of a blur.  After our Virgin Atlantic flight landed at Heathrow, Rhiann and I quickly made our way through customs and out to the buses.  We took the bus to Croydon and settled into our hotel.  By the time that was all said and done we were (a) zombies from lack of sleep, (b) hungry, and (c) wanting to make some sort of contact with family to let them know that we arrived ok.

We ventured outside and miraculously took care of at least two of those issues.  The Barclay’s down the street provided us with some much needed cash and free wifi to send a quick e-mail home.  We then found The George, and I enjoyed my first meal in London: fish and chips.  Bellies full, we made our way back to the hotel room to stay up as long as we could manage and then slept for a good 14ish hours.

Day two was a bit more exciting.  After getting some directions from some very friendly Croydon locals, we found our way to the East Croydon rail station and made our way to the London Bridge Stop.  We then took the Tube to the British Museum.  I was beyond excited.  I saw the Rosetta Stone.  I saw mummies.  I got to hold objects that were thousands of years old.  We then found our way to the National Gallery, and spent time taking in everything.  I was excited to see works by Van Gogh–although, sadly, the museum’s Sunflowers painting was on loan.  We trudged our way down The Mall to Buckingham palace, and grabbed a hot dog at St. James park.  As if that wasn’t enough, we made our way over to Westminster, only to find that we were too late to go inside by about 20 minutes or so.  We wandered to the London Eye and found a small pub called The Hole in the Wall to sit and rest for a bit.  Once refreshed and rested from our walk, we found a small Indian restaurant, ate, and made our way back to Croydon.

Day three was coincidentally my birthday.  After breakfast, we moved out of our hotel.  Lugging our baggage the entire way, we took the train, the Tube, and walked to our housing office only to find that we couldn’t get the keys until 2pm.  After a stop at Starbucks, we decided to hop on the Tube and made our way to the Tower of London.  The day was absolutely perfect for it.  We decided that no visit to the Tower should be bright and sunny (like the weather of day two).  No, a visit to the Tower should be gloomy and threatening rain.  That’s exactly what we got.  We made it just in time for a 62 cannon salute (in honor of the Queen’s official birthday), and then made our way to every crook and cranny that we could find.

By the time we were done, we were famished so we found ourselves a nearby pub called The Hung Drawn and Quartered.  The soup of the day was wonderfully warming, but only half-prepared us for the wet and rainy trek ahead.  We collected our bags and keys from the housing office and started the mile walk to our flat.  It started to drizzle.  Then it started to rain.  Before we knew it we were soaked through and had taken a wrong turn.  By the time we arrived at the flat we were soaked to the bone, and just wanted to unpack, dry off and rest.

We used my birthday as an excuse to head to Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen–which was fabulous.  I saw that the reviews were mixed on-line, but I have to say that between the six of us at dinner no one had a bad meal and our server, Emma, was delightful.  (I had the roasted cod with crushed potatoes, artichoke, and salted capers.  Yum!)

After a late wake up and a quick bite, four of us at our flat decided to make our way over to the Globe, just to get a sense for the walk.  What started out as a practical walk–finding our way in preparation for tomorrow–turned into a meandering walk with quite a few stops.  We grabbed a coffee at Paul (the mocha was the best I’ve had in quite a long time).  We wandered into a church and listened to a small orchestra practice for a while.  We ducked into St. Paul’s cathedral.  We made a brief stop at the Tate Modern.  By this point, hunger called so we found a pub.  As we ate our lunch, we watched a swing dance class that apparently takes place every Sunday at 3:30pm.  I’m thinking that that might be a fun activity for next Sunday.  The rest of the day is a bit boring to relate: groceries, laundry, a quick dinner.

Classes start tomorrow morning at the Globe!

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