Wednesday, August 20, 2014

London & Brussels 2014 {Day One}

I finished up a busy summer of teaching on August 9th, and on August 11th, I hightailed it to London!   As it happened, I had also held down the law practice on my own for the proceeding 10 work days, so I was especially ready to get some time away.  You know you want to really get away when you flee to another continent!

I decided at the beginning of the summer that I was London bound.  I didn't actually plan my trip and day-to-day activities until the week before I left, which is so unlike me, but it turned out to be a good trip.

I love London.  I studied over there in 1996, and returned for vacationing 1997 & 1998, so I got lots of commentary from people about why I wanted to go back again.  It's London, for crying out loud!  As Samuel Johnson wrote in 1777, "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.".  It had been so long since I had been there, that I enjoyed seeing things again, or several things for the first time.  Plus I also visited Belgium for the first time.

I left on Monday, August 11th at 6:50 p.m.  I totally lucked out on the flight over.  I had reserved a window seat, but was so fortunate that nobody was seated in the middle seat.  

We arrived in London at about 9:20.  I got my bag, cleared customs, and headed down to the Heathrow Tube Station.  It is on the Piccadilly line, so I had decided to ride that straight to the Earl's Court stop, which was near my hotel.  

I chose to stay at The Hotel Indigo Kensington.  I didn't do a lot of research prior to booking my trip and deciding where to stay, but I knew the general things I wanted in a hotel:  a certain location in the city, proximity to a good tube stop (access to the District and Piccadilly lines), free wifi, an in-room safe, and air conditioning.  It turned out to be perfect (cool) weather while I was there, but I've sweated it out in London before, and I wasn't going to do that this time.  Hotel Indigo met all of those requirements, and more.  It is a boutique hotel that only has about 100 rooms.  The rooms have been remodeled recently, and the lobby and restaurant are under reno right now.  

Luckily, I was able to check in early.  I have no idea why I have no pictures of the outside of the hotel, but it was your typical combination of 3 mansions in Barkston Gardens. Here are some pictures of my room:
It seems each floor had it's own color scheme.  My room was on the 4th floor which was a green/blue color scheme.  Too bad I wasn't on the 3rd floor... it was hot pink!
My room was really small.  Which isn't uncommon for London, but I think that it was oddly arranged and smaller than some of the others at the hotel.  If I had not been a solo-traveler, I might have asked for a different room, but as it was, it was fine.

In the armoire, there was a space to hang a few clothes, a drawer, a shelf, and on the other side, a safe, a tea kettle, and a mini-fridge.
and FYI:  those crisps (chips), were super yum!
My room number was 401.  401 was in a weird little between area...
between the 3rd floor and the 4th floor.
These (above and below) are both cell phone snaps, but you can see that the 3rd floor was the "pink" floor, and how my room was all on it's own.
My room...
Looking out my door...

After checking in, unpacking, and showering, I headed out to take care of a little bit of business to make the rest of the trip go smoother, and also to do a little shopping.  First, I headed to Leicester Square to pick up a London Pass that I had purchased online, and also my theatre tickets for Saturday night.  Then I took the tube to Knightsbridge.  I walked down Brompton Road to eat at one of my favorite spots, Patisserie Valerie.  It was about 2:30 by that point, and I was starving!

After a quick bite, I went to Harrods.
I loved Harrods when I visited in the 1990's.  LOVED IT!
Now, not so much.  It has been fancied up too much, if that makes sense.
They have reduced the Food Hall, and some of the other areas to make too many high end boutiques inside.  I thought it lost a lot of the charm that it had before.
But they still got some of my money!

One of the additions since I was there last time, is the Laudree Boutique.
All the pastel colors just kill me!
Doesn't it look like a heavenly place?
Of course the macarons are delicious!
I took a cab to King's Road next.  King's Road was my 'hood back in '96.  I was shocked by how much it had changed!  I know that was many moons ago, but still!  I only recognized about 5% of the stuff there.  

Here was a shot that I took while walking down King's Road with my "brolly" peeking out. 
I tried really hard to buy some shoes at the LK Bennett outlet store on King's Road, but they only had one boring pair in my size :-(

I was pretty beat at that point, so I took a bus back to Earl's Court, where I stocked up on some groceries at the M&S Simply food that was at the end of my street.  I face-time with my Mom and Lola, and then went to bed early and got a good night's sleep.

More exciting adventures were ahead on Day Two.  Stay tuned...


Legally Lovely said...

Ahhhhhh, this is awesome! I would love to go to London (I would really love to go ANYWHERE), but especially London. I am so excited to read about the rest of your trip!


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