On my first visit to this great metropolis seven years ago I didn't enjoy it so much. That time, I didn't stay right in the city and found everything very disorientating and muddly when I came in each day. I found my way around okay, but just couldn't get it all sorted in my head.
This time is different though. My internal GPS is working. When we were first here in June we saw and did a few things we wanted to. This time we're having a weekend to try to do more. Only thing is the list is quite long...and new things keep getting added, some even jumping the queue and we end up going somewhere we hadn't actually planned to go.
On Friday when we arrived, we left our bags in our tiny room in a small family run hotel and went for a walk. We collected our tickets to see Ben Hurley & Jarred Christmas later that night and had some lunch at Fiore in Leicester Square. Yum. Our walk took us to Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, The Strand and Fleet Street (a bit of a Monopoly board tour !) We found Yoda (actually several Yodas) hovering in Trafalgar Square - how do they do that ? and the Twinings Tea Shop on Fleet Street where it has been since 1706, now dwarfed by neighbouring buildings. Then walked back to rest our feet before going back for dinner and a good laugh.
We eventually got to Greenwich but only stayed for a coffee. Although there seems like there is a lot to do and see, it felt like we should have planned to spend the whole day there, and there didn't seem to be a lot of information about where to go exactly. So we cruised back to Tower Bridge and went to see the art installation of poppies which is still growing in the moat of the Tower. It is part of the commemoration of the beginning of WW1 and honouring those who gave their lives. Pretty impressive. It will be there until November at least so if you can, you should go see. From there we caught a bus back to Trafalgar Square and walked back via Neal's Yard (a not so secret alleyway near Covent Garden) to give our feet a rest before going back out for dinner.
Sunday we caught a train to Waterloo, then walked along the Thames Path again to the Tate Modern. We were meeting a cousin for lunch so decided we'd give ourselves an hour - turns out looking at art takes much longer than you think. We saw the exhibition "Poetry and Dream" and only just made it back to Waterloo in time for our train to Woking. We were met at Woking by my 4th cousin, who I have been emailing for the last four or five years sharing family tree research. We had a lovely home cooked lunch and spent some time comparing notes about the family. Then back on the train to Waterloo. A short walk to Trafalgar Square and we thought we'd have a quick look at the National Portrait Gallery if it was open and there was enough time. It was, and there was. Although to be fair I think we only managed to see part of one floor, there are so many rooms with other rooms going off on all sides !
It has been great to tick off some things on our list and get in a few extras as well - and a lot of them have had no cost attached. Bonus.