London: Like and unlike before
Already, as we walked through Heathrow Airport, I realized this trip was going to be different.
This is possibly our seventh (or so) trip to London. We have long ago done the regular touristy things – watching the changing of the guard, visiting the Tower of London, riding the London Eye … and on and on.
This time we had in mind some very different things. We intended to pick up some things we had never done – even one or two that others do straight away, like going to the famous Victoria and Albert Museum or the Portobello Antiques Market in Notting Hill. Though we've been to many of the usual tourist haunts, we've never been to those.
But nearly right away we got a big surprise. The money in my purse – pounds saved from a trip in 2016 – was not good! It seems that in the big Brexit headlines, they'd neglected to tell us Americans that they were changing their pounds, and the old ones were no longer legal tender. Our poor driver – we both looked at each other – what do we do now? He graciously agreed to take our old pounds, saying he thought his bank would still change them out. Besides, he said, he knew where we were staying, having just delivered us to the door.
We checked in and walked and walked, hitting the fabulous British Library and – my favorite – Costa Coffee. The Magna Carta and a cappuccino! What could be better?
Yet this London is still not the one that we're familiar with. Part of that is our eclectic taste in hotels. Our very first time in London we stayed in the Victoria area, in a highly rated small hotel. On later trips we stayed in the Paddington, Bayswater, Clerkenwell and Marylebone areas. We've even stayed, more than once, far away, near Heathrow Airport. We keep changing both the hotels and the areas we stay in because London is HUGE and each neighborhood is interesting and fun, and very, very different.
And this neighborhood is unique, too. We are right by University College of London, the British Museum and a lot of other intellectual sites, in the area of Bloomsbury. There are lots of students here, so lots of bars and restaurants. The hotel we're staying in was recommended by a friend, and employs some very lovely people – they knew how tired we were and got our room turned over in record time. It's the smallest room I believe I've ever stayed in – our two big suitcases, our small suitcase, our two backpacks (yes, as usual, I've dramatically overpacked) plus the two of us make for very cramped quarters. We knew it would be small – I am not sure we though it would be this small, but it will be an adventure.
Up next? Well, possibly a short walk in Regent's Park, which is right down the road, or some tea in a local restaurant. Maybe we'll hit the British Museum again – you can never see it all – which is about a block away. There's also a World War II deep shelter nearby – the Dwight D. Eisenhower one – that we'd like to take in. But with little sleep on the plane and exhaustion setting in, we may just curl up in the tiny bed here and get ready for a new day. It's 2:49 p.m. here (and only 9:49 a.m. back home)!