We slept in just a bit, our Apartment was odd and slightly crapy, but felt reminiscent of my old apartment in Moscow, so we actually were sleeping better. It was kind of like a 20 year old homecoming.
Once up, we gathered our laundry together, and while Sasha rested in the apartment, Yulia and I walked around the corner to the laundromat. It turned out this was the filming site fro one on Scarlett Johaansen’s films, so folks popped in to take photos, while we were really just interested in getting a bit cleaner. I grabbed some food around the corner and dropped it off for Sasha at the apartment. then I headed out for the Olympia Kensington Station where the Doctor Who experience was setup. From what we read online, tickets were a bit of a pain, and according to the Tube map, the Station was a easy ride through the Metro, so I figured I would square tickets away, get back, then we would see the exhibits and do the city.
Unfortunately, the final leg of his particular tube ride was some kind of local shuttle oddball, and didn’t seem to run in the mornings. So I was stuck with no clear way of getting to the station, and decided to walk. metro stations are usually spaced out for a reason, that being that is just a bit to far to walk between, and in this case that was pretty true. I was winded by the time I got there, and found that tickets weren’t all that hard to get, and unlike purchasing them online, no specific time was needed to show up. At least that was a win.
I found a slightly closer metro to Olympia Kensington Station, walked briskly over there, then caught the metro back to the apartment. This took a lot longer than expected and Yulia and Sasha were pretty worried by the time I got back. All was good and we hit the road, taking the tubes back to the exhibit.
It was still a walk out there, but well worth it once we got in. I really appreciate Yulia being so patient while Sasha and I geeked out, but this included a massive exhibit that had a interactive experience with rolling Daleks, Cybermen, weeping angels, the Pandorica, and others, followed but a prop exhibit that had items dating back to the 4th Doctor, and costumes reproduced back from the first on. It was really amazing. They had lots of behind the scenes displays, and even Yulia was interesting in a few bits, but just a few. Most of it was too geeky, and I thank her again for tolerating us.
Once we were done, we decided to see if the shuttle train was running from the station at this time, and by luck we were just in time to catch the shuttle to the main line, saving us a ton of walking. We headed over a few stops toward the Victoria and Albert gallery. We had a few crepes just outside the gallery in a little French shop, then went into the gallery. Apparently this started as Richard’s private collection of art, and it is amazing. We walked throughout the first floor, and amongst the collection were surprised to se a plaster copy of the Apprentice Pillar from the Rosslyn Chapel, which we saw only a few days before.
After a lot of walking we went for a rest at the cafe, having some wine and coffee. THe restaurant there is apparently the oldest Museum cafe that is actually built for the purpose. It is pretty swank. We rested until our feet only hurt a bit, then walked up the shopping street towards the Metro. this took us past several funky shops, then, to Harrods.
If you read in the guidebook, Harrods is simply described as an overpriced institution. But that really doesn’t do it justice. you can see that about half of he people in Harrods are just there to see the spectacle. Imagine if Wily Wonka had a retail outlet and you are very close. Every department is a spectacle of architecture, with uniformed servants to run the place. Prices are set at least 6-10 times the highest retail. The selection of items is expansive and exquisite. I really can’t do it justice. It is everything that you might imagine shopping to be, if you read only Vogue and Bon Appetit your whole life.
But the customers…
Fat old men with bigger breasts than their diminutive enhanced wives, entire arabic sports teams with poorly disguised security details and hordes of burka-dress wives, children in tow. Everyone looking at the best way to conspicuously spend money. Once woman waiting in a massive line to order 20 pound per slice pizza that looked like Domino’s. 12 pound per kilo apricots. A sweets and coffee shop that was right out of chitty-chitty-bang-bang. Everyone looking to impress the person next to them or shock the onlookers. Yulia couldn’t get enough. She desperately wanted to watch and make fun of the spectacle. I had to take her out of there before the told them that Soylent Green is People.
We escaped and continued along the street, until we had had enough then caught the Tube to the station where we stayed on our last trip to London, only one block off from this trip. The neighborhood looked better than I remembered, and we check a few shops and grabbed some food at Tesco, before finding the local shopping mall. The mall was pretty cool. We waked around a bit, not finding anything great, then we came acrsoss the fish.
I had seen a local salon on once of our walks, and joked to Sasha that these tanks were for your feet, and the fish nibble at your skin to clean it. Then we found this in the middle of the mall, Tanks of fish with people sitting above them, feet in the water with little fish nibbling at them. I had made up the whole thing, and it turned out to be true. I couldn’t resist and paid for Yulia and Sasha to do 1 minutes of fish pedicure. It was hilarious to watch, as they didn’t stop giggling the whole time.
But once they were done, they said their feet felt great – can’t argue with that.
We left and walked over the the Swan Pub right near our Apartment. The place is about 200 years old, and while we were put off originally by the huge volume of people smoking out front, found a fantastic place inside, all clean and non-smoking, with a dining porch upstairs. We had a great dinner with beer and wine, declared this to be our home pub for our stay.
We were even treated to a show when some American woman began berating the waiter for not coming to her table to take her order, not realizing that at a pub that you walk up to order at the bar. She was livid that this wasn’t explained to her, despite the fact that it is not her country, meaning that it is her responsibility to figure things out, and also despite the fact that they have a big blackboard at the front titled “How to Order Food at The Swan” with these instructions spelled out in detail.
I just smiled and had another Fuller’s London’s Pride. (aptly named)