We got to our hotel Sunday evening and almost no restaurants around were open, so we went to a kind of touristy place near Victoria Train Station, which was just five minutes from our b&b.
that was the best thing about the place, the proximity. i had extensively researched hotels and b&bs in London – it was really hard to find something relatively inexpensive and also nice. it’s easier to find good hotels for a good deal in NYC. in my rick steves guidebook, he said good things about the b&b i found, the Morgan House. it got pretty good reviews on trip advisor, although there were some better-sounding ones that had already been booked, and i was looking in June. if we go to london again i’ll try to look for hotels earlier.
hotels, by the way, are much more expensive in london.
our room wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t inviting. there was only one outlet in the entire tiny room. there were pieces of paper taped to the wall, with different rules and warnings, like “do not leave valuables in room, even during breakfast.” not very welcoming – you mean we have to worry about the room being broken into while we eat breakfast? that seemed kind of ridiculous, and also like there were nothing but thieves amongst us.
another piece of paper told us that if we wanted to leave our bags at the hotel during the day after checking out, we’d be charged two pounds per bag. i’ve never heard of any place doing this. we were going to do just that, so we somehow managed to stuff our smaller bags into our larger ones, so we each just had one huge, heavy bag to store. but that came later; we spent four nights at the morgan house.
there’s the one outlet on the bottom left.
our b&b, just west of victoria station, was in a very fancy neighborhood, and an expensive restaurant was across the street. at least we did have a window looking out; i bet some rooms didn’t even have that.
our miniscule bathroom. we got an ensuite room, but the toilet didn’t flush so well, so we used the one down the hall a lot.
but it wasn’t the worst place in the world, and we did have a good, if exhausting first day in london on monday. we started off by walking to the Victoria and Albert museum, which was a little over a mile and should have been a 25-minute walk. usually i’m good with directions, but for some reason i got totally turned around and we immediately started walking south instead of north. i realized something was wrong after a while and managed to re-orient myself.
as we got nearer to the V&A, we passed this wonderful building. i just looked it up online, and i wish i’d have known about it when we passed, cause we’d have gone inside to have a look around. here’s what they say about it on wikipedia:
Designed by one of Michelin’s employees François Espinasse, the original building features 3 large stained glass windows. The designs are based on Michelin adverts of the time, and all feature the Michelin Man “Bibendum”. At street level, there are a number of decorative tiles of famous racing cars of the time which used Michelin tyres. These decorative tiles wrap around the front of the original building. More tiles can be found inside the front of the building which was originally a tyre fitting bay for passing motorists. People walking into the reception of the building are greeted by a mosaic on the floor showing Bibendum holding aloft a glass of nuts, bolts and other hazards proclaiming “Nunc Est Bibendum” (Latin for “now is the time to drink”). The reception area features more decorative tiles around its walls. Two glass cupolas, which look like piles of tyres, frame either side of the front of the building. One of Michelin’s other loves is maps. This is represented by a number of etchings of the streets of Paris on some of the first floor windows.
it was built in 1911.
we finally got to the V&A and headed up to the top floor, with a plan to work our way down. the problem is that there were SO MANY FABULOUS THINGS everywhere we looked. We first saw some arts & crafts and art nouveau stuff. here’s a wall sconce.
i’m pretty sure this is a mackintosh fireplace and chair.
they had these marvelous glass centerpiece, which i believe is called an epergne. i want one.
every thing was just so beautiful and exquisitely detailed.
i couldn’t get enough of the jewel-encrusted snuffboxes. i found this one on the V&A website, which has extensive photos of most of their objects. this snuffbox was part of a group owned by Frederick the Great of Prussia, FYI.
here’s a picture looking down on it, from the website.
these stairs were in a lovely room with huge skylights.
i’m probably talking about the stairs while taking this video, which will be at the end of these photos.
we went through a room full of fabulous costumes, but there are not photos – i did take quite a bit of video, though. i started taking video in the room of fabulous diamonds and jewels but then a guard yelled NO VIDEOTAPING ALLOWED, so i had to stop. but i did get a good shot of one lavish crown before i had to shut off the camera.
we had lunch in this beautiful room.
after lunch we decided we’d been saturated with museum-looking, so we headed way back to the entrance. as we went i studied the map and noticed that there were three room, the morris, gamble, and poynter rooms. i figured that morris meant william morris, and i wanted to see that room, so we turned back and headed all the way…to the dining room. after more studying and being mystified that we couldn’t find the rooms, it suddenly dawned on us that we had actually had lunch in one of them, and had looked through all three already. so we then trudged back to the entrance and headed over to the Albert Memorial, on the south side of Kensington Gardens. this was about half a mile from the V&A.
we walked north through the gardens, stopping to look at the Princess Diana Memorial fountain (it’s included in the video), and kevin took a picture of peter pan’s statue.
i wanted to take a boat along the Regent Canal, because i’d seen a beautiful picture of it in a book from the library. lots of canal barges were moored along the banks and it looked really interested and different, so we walked there from the gardens – it was about two miles through the park and up to the Canal. once we reached the north edge of the park we walked quickly, because i’d read that the last boat ride was at 2:30, so we didn’t have a huge amount of time. it was a lovely, warm, sunny day, and a nice walk through some pretty neighborhoods.
when we got to the canal the boat was about to leave, and once again, people sat all along the sides of the boat so the only empty seats were farther in. i tried not to be annoyed by this, because it was still a good view.
here are a few pictures, and i did take lots of video of our 45-minute ride to Camden Lock.
here’s me taking a video going through a long tunnel.
it was certainly different to take the boat ride, and not something that lots of people do. it wasn’t quite a scenic and beautiful as the photo i’d seen in the book, but it was still worth doing. also it was nice to sit down for 45 minutes and relax.
kevin didn’t take any more pictures for a while after we got off the boat. all kinds of stalls were set up around Camden Square, and we stopped and had tea at a little place. i wished i’d been hungry because there were all kinds of delicious-smelling international places. it kind of had a bohemian feel to it, and lots and lots of people.
i did take a little video of camden town, which was kind of like…well, maybe a little bit like the village in NYC, except not. it was VERY CROWDED with people, and we walked and walked south. at this point we should have found a bus, but we didn’t. we walked through some neighborhoods that were very ugly and plain, and it was about a mile and a half to get to King’s Cross Station, where there was Platform 9 3/4 from Harry Potter. I’d read about Harry Potter sites, and i didn’t want to miss this one.
here’s a photo of the inside of St. Pancras station, which was across the street. they’re gearing up for the Olympics, as you can see.
we walked and walked and walked around, looking for the platform – i figured it must be between platforms nine and ten – but then we started seeing these signs all around, because there was lots of construction going on. i love the fact that it reads IMPORTANT INFORMATION! up there on the top. we weren’t the only ones looking for the platform.
the signs led us outside again – because of the construction, they’d created this temporary Platform 9 3/4. not the same thing, but it was still fun. there was a long line of people waiting to take pictures in front of it, and behind us in line were two young english men dressed in suits, and one said to the other that they were going to miss their train, but they waited anyway. there were people there from all over.
here’s the outside of the station.
and once again, that’s where the pictures end. after this we walked to the British Library where they have many fascinating old documents, plus it’s fairly small and manageable, especially after you’ve worn yourself out walking all day.
after that we finally got on the subway and headed back to the hotel. we rested briefly and then headed out to see the play “betwixt,” which was a delightful musical that kevin had found online. ellen green starred in it, and they extended the run, but by the time we saw it she had left the show. it was very entertaining anyway.
because we were rushed for time, we had a light meal in a kind of touristy pub near the theater before the show.
i added up all the walking we did that day, and it was about seven miles, not counting the getting lost and doubling back in the morning plus walking around the museum for a few hours. the thing about london is that it’s easy to walk most places, but we overdid it a little.
ok, i guess we overdid it a lot, because we were pretty tired on tuesday. we still managed to do quite a few things, though.
here’s my video of the day, including my ILLICIT SHOT of a lavish crown in the jewels room, plus many fabulous costumes including a wonderful one from “The Producers.”
VIDEO DAY TWO:
Lots of walking in London on Monday
mrs. hughes in london.