London Days 6 & 7: The Last Day & the Journey Home

The only thing on our itinerary on Monday was the play England People Very Nice at the Royal National Theatre in the evening. Wendy and I went down the list and thought of the last few things on our "to-see" and "to-do" list. Our final day would be spent doing the last few things on the list.

After a leisurely morning getting up and ready, we hopped the Tube and headed for Harrod's department store. Harrod's is one of, if not the most famous department stores in the world. The son of the owner was Princess Di's boyfriend, the one who was killed in the car accident with her. Just as the Mall of America would be a "must see" on a trip to Minneapolis, Harrod's is a "must see" when you go to London. It's four floors and an entire city block. There's nothing you can't find at Harrod's. They don't just have chocolates, they have an entire room filled with counters representing different chocolatiers from around the word. It was quite and experience just walking through the place and seeing products like jellied ox tongue. We didn't spend a lot of time at Harrod's, but we walked through, bought a few souvenirs, and the hopped back on the Tube.

Our next stop was Kensington Royal Gardens, and this stop was for Taylor. She and Clayton are reading some classic novels together and they've begun with Peter Pan. There is a famous statue of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, so we went to take some pictures for her. It was at this point that we felt the weather turning for the worse. We'd enjoyed five days with lots of sunshine, but as we made our way into the park the wind was chilly and cold. The statue was a lot of fun and we stopped for a few minutes to watch the swans on the lake, but it was getting cold and we soon headed back to the Tube station. I should mention, at some point, that Wendy had downloaded this really cool application for her iPod Touch which had a map of the London Underground system. You could plot where you were and where you wanted to go and it would calculate the route complete with which trains to catch at which stations and approximately how long it would take. That little program was a lifesaver all week and Wendy was constantly planning our routes.

One of the things we'd wanted to spend more time doing was walking through one of London's open markets. We'd visited Covent Garden Market on Friday, but we were there in the evening as the vendors were shutting down. As we headed down to the Tube I noticed that we were two stops from Notting Hill, the neighborhood where the movie Notthing Hilltakes place and the site of one of London's most famous markets on Portobello Road. So, we went two more stops and hiked about a mile up the narrow street of antique dealers, vintage clothiers and one-of-a-kind shops. It was Monday, so most of the vendors weren't open. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the walk and stopped at a few shops.

We went back to our apartment briefly to drop off our packages and then headed back towards Covent Garden. By this time, I was craving a good American restaurant, and we'd walked past a T.G.I. Friday's on Bedford Street several times. So, we went there for lunch. It was, indeed, much like any Friday's here in the states. By the time we left, the rain and started and we knew we were in for some traditional London weather.

The Covent Garden market was also largely shut down on Monday, so we hoofed our way back towards Trafalgar Square. We'd picked up a few trinkets during the week, but thought that this would be our last chance to stop in one of the requisite cheesy tourist shops. As we entered, the rain began to pour. We shopped, and picked up a cheap umbrella for four pounds. Exiting the shop and heading back for our flat, we opened our new umbrella, It took all of about a half block for the wind to turn the cheap umbrella completely inside out and break it. So much for that.

Our final night in London was at the National Theatre. England People Very Nice was a very interesting play that tells the story of four waves of immigrants that have come to London throughout history: the French Heugonots, the Irish, the Jews, and the Bangladeshis. The theme of the play reveals that each group was rejected and harassed upon their arrival, but eventually they became "English" and subsequently harassed the next wave of immigrants for not being English like they were. It was extremely well done and done with a lot of comedy. It was a great way to end our trip.

Yesterday (Tuesday) was sunny once more and we were anxious to get home. We were a little rushed, having not given ourselves as much time to pack and get to the airport as we should have. But, we made it on time and had relatively uneventful flights home. There was one small delay in Chicago that left Grandpa and Grandma Vander Well waiting an extra hour at the airport, but it was so good to be home and to see them there waiting for us. We walked in the back door to be greeted by Taylor about 8:30 p.m. (though to our bodies it was 1:30 a.m.). We grabbed a bite, chatted with Taylor, and headed to bed.

Now we face theunpacking, laundry, stack of mail, full email inbox and backlog of work awaiting us!

Pictures:

  1. Peter Pan statue in Kensington Garden.
  2. Peter Pan statue in Kensington Garden (detail).
  3. Peter Pan statue in Kensington Garden (detail…notice all the characters and animals in the base of the statue).
  4. Peter Pan statue in Kensington Garden (detail).
  5. Swan at Kensington Gardens.
  6. Wendy uses her iPod Touch to map our route on the Tube.
  7. Portabello Road Market, Notting Hill.
  8. Wendy at Lancaster Gate Tube station.
  9. Notting Hill Gate Tube station.
  10. Notting Hill Gate Tube station.
  11. Villiers Street outside Embankment Station. This was the view that greeted us as we headed back to our flat from the Tube station. Two blocks up, two blocks right, one block right. If you look on the left side of the street you can barely see a Starbucks sign. That's where we met John on Sunday.
  12. Tom at T.G.I. Friday's on Bedford Street.

Pan statue 01 032309 LR  Pan statue 02 032309 LR  Pan statue 03 032309 LR  Pan statue 04 032309 LR  Swan @ kensington gardens 032309 LR  Wendy checks the tube map app 032309 LR Portabello Road @ notting hill 032309 LR  Wendy at the tube stop 032309 LR  Notting hill gate tube station 032309 LR  Notting hill gate tube station 02 032309 LR  Villiers Street outside Embankment Station 032309 LR  Tom @ TGIFs in London 032309 LR

About Tom Vander Well

Wayfarer, husband, father, consultant, thespian, writer, thinker, and back porch musician. Pressing on through the journey one step at a time.
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