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Our Time in London

In total we spent eight days in London, moving around the city with locals as our guides. Jeremy, Matt and Tom's wedding photographer, took 2,000 images in one afternoon and evening!!!! That's about how many I took over the 14 days of our trip, thus, there are lots to share.

Warning--photo overload commencing!!

Our first hotel was in the Russell Square area of London, home to the British Library, and other notable places. That said, our first stop was Mabel's, a pub around the corner from the hotel. If you are interested we stayed in Studios2Let. On this trip Bruce was bound and determined to try as many British ales as he could!
The pub was cozy as can be, with comfortable chairs ,and a FIRE in the fireplace!

Before meeting up with Matt on Thursday, we roamed around the neighborhood, cutting through Tavistock Square on our way to the British Library. The daffodils were gorgeous!
Although most of the trees were still bare, there were a few cherry trees just beginning to show their colors. Walking up to the British Library we came upon a photo shoot in the midst of some remodeling.
While there we saw a terrific philatelic exhibit--one of the largest collections of stamps in the world. Having been a stamp collector in his youth, this was of particular interest to Bruce. We roamed the streets, sticking our head into one of the huge churches you see everywhere.
The bright red doors leading into this gorgeous space were at least 20 feet tall! Adjacent to the church I saw this fantastic sculpture:
Matt met us at the apartment taking us through Russell Square, and some side streets to our destination, The Phoenix Theater to see "Once". I'd booked the tickets way in advance, and because it was a matinee, or so we think, we got an upgrade to seats that were so close it was unbelievable! To say that I loved the play is putting it mildly. A definite highlight from the trip. I'd say more, but then you'd have to read more, and no doubt I would lose you!
If you've ever wondered what the Google London headquarters looks like, well I'm here to show you.
From there we headed to East London for a delicious meal cooked by Tom in their flat.
I am proud to say that we navigated the tube home without incident. :)

Friday we headed back in the same direction as the theater, and went to the British Museum, where we saw more than I can recount. The highlight for me was the clock rooms--there is a lot more to clocks than you can imagine.
The courtyard is flat out gorgeous!
Unlike our trip to London ten years ago, this time ice is plentiful wherever you go. The British Museum is kind enough to set this out for visitors.
This is a big deal to me as I love my ice!

Now it was time to move over to the wedding hotel, the Ibis in Whitechapel. I've told you all about how fantastic every detail was about the wedding, so I'll skip that today instead, I'll tell you what we did when we were not making merry with the group. We roamed around, walking to the Gherkin, one of Bruce's favorite buildings in London.
It really is fantastic--we learned later that Matt has been to a dinner in the top! Lucky guy! I roamed around the hotel looking for street art ,which is plentiful in East London.
Whitechapel is adjacent to Spitafields, the location of Matt's office. We roamed around the Spitafields market, which was wonderful, and if you're wondering, goes on most days.
There was everything imaginable for sale! Spitafields, the home in E. London of silk weavers for centuries, is also known for Christ Church, built between 1714-1729. The spire stands tall which for folks like us was a bonus--we used it to navigate our way back to the hotel after roaming along Brick Lane. Note the blue sky--wedding day, mind you, it would not return for many, many days!
It must have been Sunday evening that Tom took us down to the docks. I can't tell you much more than that because I've already forgotten, but it was yet another part of London we'd never seen before.
As I've mentioned before, London is a changing city with skyscrapers going up everywhere dotting the London skyline. The new Shard is seen amongst the old buildings. You may recall Tom was kind enough to take us up to the top during our October visit.  We came out on the other side of Tower Bridge,
which on this side of the Thames is adjacent to the Tower of London. Now that is a fantastic place to visit!
You can just see the skyscrapers above the Tower wall. The large one on the left is the one that caused a car to melt, or something like that, because the sun caused such a strong reflection. Currently there is black shade cloth attached, until I suppose, they think of something else to do! The meager sun sets over the Thames.
We walked along the back side of the Tower, giving me my first glimpse of the lions....
After our first meal at Wagamama, the group (Ray, Jane, Ollie and Nick) made our way back to the hotel for a good night's sleep before our morning train to Scotland.

Returning to London the following Sunday night, we were led by Tom to our last hotel in Mayfair.
While looking to use some Marriott hotel points, Matt figured why not stay on Park Lane for free. We learned from Tom that in British Monopoly, Park Lane is the most expensive real estate, and furthermore he added, what do you do when you purchase property in Monopoly? Why, you put hotels on it! Like the Dorchester just down the street:
According to their website, it is the "place to be" while in London. I did not check the rates! So, we've established Mayfair is a super wealthy area of London, and one need look no further than the cars parked along the streets. A Bentley or two on every block!
As we walked from the train station through Mayfair I began noticing a really smart trend, brick buildings painted dark charcoal. Oh yeah--a Lamborghini thrown in for good measure.
As well, it is home to a lot of the foreign embassies, including our own, just around the corner from the hotel.
Then too, the shop windows are show stoppers. This man is already spot on with the double breasted look.
You just knew I could not resist taking a photograph of this adorable shop:
The only problem about staying in a ritzy area is that the restaurant prices reflect that. We walked quite a few blocks before finding this place for dinner:
Our mission for Monday was a visit to the Churchill War Rooms. The walk was through Hyde Park, St. James Park, and through Green Park. I may have those last two reversed, but in any case they were all gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. And what should we come across after leaving the third park? Why, the Beefeaters of course.
I was fully expecting them to break into "God Save the Queen", or something like that. Instead they played pop music!

Finally we made it. I could go on and on about the exhibits--everything was done in such excellent fashion.
You really have to see it to appreciate the depth and breadth of the museum. I suppose that goes for most museums, so duh! Anyway, we could have stayed here all day long, but Matt was meeting us for the afternoon. It was rainy--no surprise there, but after lunch, we walked across the street to the National Portrait Gallery. Because this is the 100 year anniversary of WWI, a room was set aside for paintings depicting the people involved. Look how gigantic this John Singer Sargent is!!
From there we roamed through Leicester Square, Chinatown, Trafalgar Square, and other places I can't even remember!
Look at the adorable pastries in one of the windows!
Returning from our amazing trip to Windsor Tuesday, we left the train station walking until we arrived at Southbank, home to the London Eye. One of the great things about being with a local is going places you would never have access to including this club at Southbank Center where we met Tom after work.
A very nice, peaceful spot about five floors up from the Thames. Then it was dinner at Giraffe, and time to part, but not before we walked along the Thames when I took this:
and we took a brand new bus with Matt and Tom back to our hotel. :(

Wouldn't you know it? The following morning it was sunny, and I mean big time sunny. So much so they set the chairs out in Hyde Park which was directly across the street from our hotel.
So not fair!

I hope you've enjoyed this rather lengthy (!!!) travelogue, we sure enjoyed experiencing it!

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