It was rainy again when we woke up Tuesday morning, so we headed out with umbrellas. We walked to St Pancras station to buy travel cards, then took the tube to Harrod’s.
The store was as ridiculous as I’d hoped. We took the escalators all the way up to the top floor and went to the souvenirs shop. We were there for a long time, picking out things for people back home. They had especially great products related to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. From there we went to wander around the food and wine shops, and saw things like a 1,500-pound ham, the Veuve Cliquot bar, and 10,000-euro bottles of champagne, for which you got a bottle to drink yourself, and one to be aged in a cave for up to 100 years, which you would leave to someone in your will. Awesome.
We consulted the map and headed off in a direction we thought would lead us to Buckingham Palace, but we realized several blocks later in front of the Victoria and Albert Museum that we were going the wrong way. It started to rain hard, so we went into the tube station and rode to Hyde Park Corner. That tube station led us to a series of underpass tunnels that seemed to maybe be leading to the palace, but instead kept ending up in a park bordered by uncrossable streets. We finally figured out how to cross, and headed down a few blocks to find food. I saw something that looked like my idea of a traditional British pub called Rose and Crown, so we went inside.
Their menu had vegetarian fish and chips made with haloumi! I was beyond thrilled about that. Matt decided on a pie. We got beers and placed our food order at the bar, and hung out at our table. I was happy to sit… many many days of intense walking plus cold and rain was wearing me out.
After lunch, we walked to Buckingham Palace. From the restaurant, it was just a matter of cutting through a park to get there. There was a crowd out front, and a bunch of construction on the mall leading up to it because of the Jubilee celebration and the Olympics.
We walked down the mall, and noticed that we could see the London Eye from the park. The Admiralty Arch was at the far end:
From there we went to Trafalgar Square, which had a giant Olympic countdown clock.
It would have been nice if the weather was better, but at least it had stopped raining.
We then headed over to the Savoy hotel. It was around 4:30pm, and everyone seemed to be getting out of work. The streets were crowded. We found our way to the back entrance of the hotel, and were pointed upstairs to the lobby. Of course we were very underdressed for the bar and were carrying a Harrods bag, but that didn’t matter much. The place was too big a part of cocktail history to miss.
We ordered a Champs Elysses and a Hanky Panky. (I was amused that Matt had to say that. It was invented by Ada Coleman, the head bartender at the Savoy before Harry Craddock, the only female head bartender there to date!)
Matt wanted to visit a famous menswear store called Baracuta, so we walked over there and found it in a little shopping area. It was raining again, and my pants were soaking halfway up my legs. I was cold, too, and not the slightest bit thrilled about it. We found the shop, and the guy who worked there was fantastic. We got talking about the Caribbean, and he told us we had to visit Antigua because they have 365 beaches. That sounded good to us, as we had already booked a cruise that’s stopping there.
Matt picked out a jacket, and was better prepared for the London weather. I was not. We finally found a Gap, so we stopped in there to shop. I found jeans and a light jacket that I really liked. I was so happy to have warmer clothes that I didn’t even care that it cost three times what it would have at home. We walked back to the tube and rode to Angel station (the one nearest our hotel).
We stopped at the Tesco by our hotel, because I needed scissors to cut off the bottoms of my jeans (they’re always way too long for me, and looked funny rolled). They didn’t have scissors, but we did pick up cider and gin and tonics in a can to bring back with us. Back at the hotel, I borrowed a pair of scissors, did my ‘mending’, had a gin and tonic, and then we were then set to go out for the evening.
We walked back to Angel and rode down to the Putney Bridge stop. (It seemed like it was a ways out of town, definitely more like commuter rail.) We followed bunch of people to the bridge and crossed the Thames, then walked down a few blocks to the Half Moon. Davina and the Vagabonds from Minneapolis just happened to be playing there that night.
We paid 10 pounds cover and got the last table on the floor, front and center. Matt went to get us beer, and later I went to order food at the bar. (I kind of like that system in the UK… you don’t have to wait for a server, and you pay up front.) Our dinner was awesome, and so was Davina’s set.
We decided to leave during intermission, so we could visit other places in London before the tube stopped running. We went to say hi to Davina, and got a hug from her for being there. We walked back to the station and rode to Green Park to find an old tiki bar called Mahiki. We knew it was only open for about another hour, but figured we could stop in. It was conveniently right there by the station, too, but when we got there they had velvet ropes, and the place was obviously fancy. They were charging 10 pounds cover, too, which seemed stupid for such a short visit. We decided to go elsewhere instead.
It was late, so after some debate about how to get around after tube-closing, we decided on the pub we’d seen walking back from the Bar With No Name the night before. It looked like a friendly neighborhood place. So we rode to Angel, walked over there, and it was exactly what I wanted… a quiet pub with good beer and entertaining people-watching. I kind of wish we’d just headed there in the first place, because closing time was going to be happening soon.
I got Camden Ink – an awesome stout – and Matt got the pale ale. When the place closed, we walked over to a different Tesco near our hotel. We picked up three packs of Go Ahead, some scones to have for breakfast, and a selection of England’s finest canned cocktails. (Seriously, they were good! I liked the gin and grapefruit.) We headed to the self checkout and watched the drama unfolding at the entrance, where the store owners were yelling at the people trying to come in, since they were also trying to close. We walked back to the hotel and had G&Ts in bed while listening to Matt’s favorite punk show on BBC radio.