Monday, October 3, 2011

London Getaway: Day 2

For our second day in London, we needed to decide whether to venture outside of London proper to do a day trip or to stay within the city borders to explore more of the British capital. Flipping through tour books, I had visions of Stonehenge, the Cotswolds, Cambridge and Bath on my mind; however, in the end we decided that it was best to stick inside of London since there was so much to see and so little time to see it. I mean, after all, take a look at this map below, you can't possibly see everything you want to see in one single day:


On our second day in London, having decided to stay in the city center, we became much more comfortable with the London Underground in order to get from location A to location B:

 

As you can see, there are many neighborhoods in London and you can't exactly walk from one place to the next.  Public transportation is often the way to go:

 


For our first stop of the day, we went to go visit the famous tourist destination of the Tower of London. This historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames holds countless tales of British history:



Be sure to look for Beefeaters there (that is the guy in the picture below) who are technically called Yeoman Warders, but more popularly known as Beefeaters. Their main purpose was originally to guard the prisoners at the Tower of London as well as the Crown Jewels which were housed there, however, today they now serve a guiding and tourism function:



So, here we are arriving at the Tower of London. Although there were gray skies ahead, the skies quickly cleared just about an hour later (of course after I had finished taking all my pictures there). Crazy weather is one thing you will certainly get during your time in London:



After just a bit of walking, we found ourselves with that famous view of the London Bridge which stands right next to the Tower of London on the River Thames:




A popular thing to do in and around London is to take a river cruise on the Thames. Here in the picture below we saw one passing by. Night or day, it would make for a beautiful way to see London:



The more we kept walking, the more beautiful pictures there were to take. Would have been nice to have a blue sky, but hey, you have to take what you can get while traveling. Though we didn't have time to fit it into our schedules during this visit, I have heard that the South Bank (which is across the bridge and a short walk away) is an ideal place from which to explore and to take in the most stunning views of of London:




After taking in views of the beautiful river, it was time to turn our attention toward the actual Tower of London. A Beefeater takes you around the inside of the castle, telling tales about the famous prisoners who stayed there, the killings that happened there and the famous crown jewels that make their home there:




I didn't actually get to take an up-close and personal shot with a real, live Beefeater, but I did snap a few photos of them. Although it was touristy, I didn't want to interrupt them like everyone else was doing:

     


After a long morning walking around the River Thames and visiting the Tower of London and  the nearby London Bridge, we decided to head back to our hotel for High Tea. Any visit to London would be incomplete without afternoon tea. Enjoy some of these images of classic afternoon teas in the London area. This is no normal teatime... it's full of sweets and cupcakes and mini-sandwiches and  all kinds of deliciousness:


     



Not a bad way to spend an afternoon, right? The High Tea offered at the Hilton Park Lane in London was even better than we ever anticipated. It was more like a full lunch with a full spread of options from which to choose:

     




After filling up at High Tea, we ventured back outdoors to a trendier part of town on Knightsbridge. If you know London well, you will know exactly where I was heading. But, for the time being, let me show you a few images of this part of town, busy with shoppers and shops:









    


Well, you guessed it... my visit to the Knightsbridge area was for a stop at the world-famous store called Harrods. This mother of all department stores is not even comparable to any other department store on earth. What awaits you inside will stun your senses. You could spend hours in here (and that we did...):




After the good walk from our hotel to Harrods, it was finally time to go inside and check out this favorite department store talked about all over the world. I was here when I was a little girl but I don't remember the details:

    

    

Upon entering Harrods, we found ourselves being ushered into the famous food halls. Let me explain how this works. You have a chocolate hall, a coffee and tea themed hall, a restaurant style hall, a take-home foods hall, a fruit and vegetable hall... and on and on. And when I saw a "hall", I mean a vast, spacious room that takes a good five minutes to walk from one end to the other. You aren't quite sure where to look when you pass through each hall and into the next one:





If you couldn't tell, above we just passed through the chocolate hall which smelled simply amazing. Onward into the next hall was the dining hall which has a cupcakery, a dim sum place and a sushi place, among others:



   

Of course we had to try sum dim sum and some cupcakes. A few pounds later (no pun intended) we headed up to the top floor of the department store and decided to work our way down with the guidance of a Harrods map. There is no way you can see everything inside the store, there's simply to much ground to cover. Here we found ourselves in pet heaven, with every purchase available known to man for four-legged friends, as well as a pet spa and even a pet store:




Close by we ran into the renowned restaurant The Georgian and the neighboring outdoor terrace cafe attached to it. Here, they have a famous High Tea which you can buy for 26 pounds a person. Don't worry about converting that, trust me, it's a lot. Still, it's delicious and fun to say you've had tea at Harrods:



Around the corner they had a video and music store, filled with aisles of CDs, DVDs and booming music:


Need a TV? Head next door into the media room where you can buy TVs, DVD players and all kinds of high tech equipment:


Need to furnish your home? They've got that too. Every kind of high end and luxury piece of furniture that you can imagine.



Don't worry about artwork, they've got that too. A whole area filled with old maps and prints as well as artwork for sale that will surely attract your attention. Around the store you will also see Harrods Bears for sale (although for a hefty price tag):

    

 

As you continue on, you will find more and more furniture, lamps, tableware and floor layouts to decorate your home with. Their mirror collections was particularly beautiful, though I don't think I snapped many photos of them since I was appreciating them instead:


Throughout the five floors, there was no shortage of food with everything from Ice Cream Parlors to Chocolate Bars to Pizzerias:



And we had to hit up the gift shop which had dozens of enticing buys for Harrods' lovers back home. Here's just a sampling of the colorful paraphernalia we found inside the gift shop:



    

They even had a large section of one floor called Christmas World, which just so happens to be open 12 months a year. The Christmas holiday is in full swing here year-round:



And of course, they have clothing too. I didn't take too many pictures of the clothing since you would expect to find all that stuff in any regular department store. Nonetheless, you could spend an entire day shopping through the shoes, jackets and cute, trendy clothing:



 

We had so much fun on our outing to Harrods and before we knew it, it was time to head onward as dusk descended on London. We spent the evening wandering around the trendy and quaint Notting Hill area, famous for its Portobello Road Market, Victorian townhouses and high-end shopping and restaurants. 





Soon enough, it was time to head back to the hotel to pack up and prepare for our morning flight to the US. Two full days and three nights was only enough to scratch the surface of London. Our trip left us wanting much more and thus a future visit is definitely in the cards. For the time being, Cheers to London!

5 comments:

  1. Is that my apron I see? What about that purple KitchenAid mixer. I NEED that, don't you think?

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  2. WHAT!?!?!? No photos of one of my favorite stops in London - Shanghai Tang? Now, you'll have to return!

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  3. I didn't find all your favorite stops!! You will have to come meet me there and take me to all the most important places. Yes, that's your apron and we BOTH need the purple mixer!

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  4. I just found your blog and I absolutely love these photos!

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  5. Thanks Donna! I think it's just about time for another European getaway. Nothing like pictures to make you reminisce about a beautiful place.

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