Having gotten a good night sleep and feeling like we had jet lag on the run, we had a good full English breakfast before setting off to see Westminster Abbey. Steve’s first glimpse of Big Ben was adorable. As you exit the Westminster tube station, it’s right there…RIGHT THERE The sky was cloudy but with enough sunlight here and there to capture some really great shots of it. Iconic!
The Abbey was amazing. No photos were allowed, so I’ll just have to say that it’s worth the admission price and time to stroll through it. We saw Newton, Einstein, Poet’s corner (yes, Bill and Jane were there too). We acquired a new mascot for Wildflower Women’s Ensemble in the shop at the Abbey, a cute corgi (of course) named Bess.
Then it was off to St. Paul’s. It’s so hard to take decent photos of looming architecture, but we got some great views. We were not up for the tour, but did step inside and look up – impressive (Steve went back later in the week for a longer tour.)
We stopped for a quick lunch and Yo! Sushi by St. Paul’s. If you never been there, it’s like a sushi boat restaurant but on a conveyor belt. Pretty good! We crossed the Millennium bridge that crosses the Themes and drops off just in front of the Tate Modern. We stopped for a quick break on the lawn by the Tate…
About midday, I was to go check into my residence for the master class and conference at the Globe. We headed over there, just a few minutes from the hotel, to find that a “last minute plumbing issue” meant we had been moved to another King’s College residence further away. Since I had a husband with a hotel, I wasn’t going to go until I realized my colleagues were over there. So we walked over to the Great Suffolk Street apartments. Oh boy! This place is a far cry from the new place we were supposed to be in. We got our keys and went to our rooms. Dark hallways, cell like rooms off a hallway with a utilitarian kitchen (that smelled funny) and no real common space. But wait, it gets better. While the bed looked alright, it had no aircon (did I mention London was having a heat wave?), one little window facing west and yellow walls. Okay, the walls were fine, but the bathroom was not. It was a toilet, sink and shower head with a drain in the floor. Again, not altogether bad until I looked up. It was the six inches of black stuff and the hole in the ceiling that was bad. This is the look.
Upon deliberation, I chose not to stay at Great Suffolk Street. (It turned out to be a fine decision).
A few years ago we discovered the BBC Proms. It’s a few weeks of concerts and performances, mostly at the Royal Albert Hall. They happen in July and August and we got tickets! It was a goal of our to attend, so we searched and searched. It happened to be a concert that include Ravel’s Bolero, one of Steve’s favorite pieces of music.
We had a glorious dinner at Coda before, then went to our box seats in the second tier. Bolero was stunning…then they played a Rachmaninoff. Now, I love Rachmaninoff…but only the short ones, apparently. This was 25 minutes of him with about a dozen false endings. There was a virtuouso pianist playing and that was stunning, but it was too long. Oh, did I mention we didn’t really chase off the jet lag? And that RAH is not equipped with aircon (as they call it) so it was fairly sweltering in there. At the interval, we had to decide if we wanted to stay for the second half. Jet lag aside, we probably would have, but I was already falling asleep and the second have was 30 minutes of Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier waltzes. He wrote an amazing waltz, but I was pretty sure I couldn’t sit through 30 minutes of them. We excused ourselves and headed home.
As it was a Monday, we decided to pop into the pub across the street, the White Hart, for a pint. It would not be our last pint, for sure! However, it was a Peroni, not the Guinness I had expected to be drinking…but it was delicious!