Monday, December 20, 2004

The week in review, days 1 and 2: London

Salutations, loyal readers (both of you). Now that I have returned from a (mostly) wonderful week in Jolly Olde, I will take a few minutes to indulge myself in relating some of the week's highs and lows.

The purpose of the visit was to drag my family over from the states to attend my graduation ceremony from the University of Manchester. Not that I really had to drad them-- wild horses couldn't have prevented them from coming. We arrived in London, Heathrow at 6 am on a sunday morning. It shouldn't have taken us 4 1/2 hours to get to our flat in Fulham, but it did. I'll spare you the aggravating details. Suffice it to say that if my aunt walked any more slowly she'd be going backwards. I've seen snails ascend mountains with more rapidity than that woman can muster. Oy vey.

We were pretty knackered on sunday, but we only had 2 days to spend in London, so sleep could wait. We ditched our bags and hopped the tube to the Victoria and Albert museum, which struck me rather like England's attic. It's crammed full of all kinds of random stuff, from plaster cast replicas of Richard I's tomb and Michaelangelo's David, to a 3500 year old Egyptian glass vase, to an original copy of William Morris's edition of the Canterbury tales. Weird, but cool. The art isn't displayed very well because there's so much packed into such a small space, but it has the advantage of allowing people with limited mobility to see a lot of stuff in a relatively short time.

Back on the tube to Fulham, where we had dinner at (and pay attention here, because this is important) the best Mediteranean resturaunt in which I have ever eaten. (Bear in mind I spend 3 weeks this summer travelling around the Mediteranean in Italy, France, and Spain, so I know whereof I speak.) If you ever find yourself in London, take the District Line to the West Brompton station, turn left out of the station, walk down Lilly Road 1 block, cross the street, and enter the Golden Horn. You will not regret it. The ambiance was quiet and pleasant, the wait staff was stupendous, the menu varied, and the food indescribably good. And all the entrees were under 8 pounds. I'm trying to rack up some business for these guys because the place has only been open a few months and I really want them to make a go of it. We had them bring out the chef so we could give him a standing ovation. He seemed tickled.

Tuesday was a trip to the Cabinet War Rooms (the audio tour is informative, but difficult to follow, and the admission is rather steep, but if you're into WWII history it's a must-see), then took a cab to the theatre district to have dinner at The Ivy (the food was excellent, but the menu was limited, the wait staff was snotty, the dining room cramped and noisy, and the prices were disproportionately high for the experience. I understand that The Ivy is the place to be seen, but I thought the Golden Horn was better). After dinner we wandered up and down Jermyn and Bond Streets for some decadent holiday window-shopping, and then went to the Savoy to see Penelope Keith in Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit. Marvelous play, beautiful set, well-acted, and Penelope Keith is perfectly cast as the eccentric, happy-go-lucky medium. (We know her from her Manor Born days, so it was a thrill to see in her person and still performing so well.)

I must apologize if this blog begins to read rather like a review of London's and Manchester's resturaunts and theatres, but that's what my family does when it travels-- eats and goes to the theatre.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's exciting entry, An American Drives from London to Manchester.

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