A long solid sleep and a pretty decent breakfast courtesy of our host at the B&B and we were off for a solid day of touring.
Someone once suggested and I found to be true, that the best way to get the lay of a new city was with one of those hop on hop off tour buses. I have tried that twice and found it to be absolutely true. It’s a great way to get comfortable with the city you are visiting and helps you pick where to go and what to see next. We drove past all of London’s greatest hits as it were and now we can take some time to visit different places.
We did take a break and walk up Baker Street of Sherlock Holmes fame. I won’t lie, would have been more exciting if Benedict Cumberbatch was there, but cool to be able to say we were there nonetheless. We had coffee at a groovy little shop at 106 Baker Street cleverly called 106 Baker Street.
After that, we had an awesome experience visiting St Paul’s Cathedral. It was gorgeous, truly. Beautifully created, it’s where Prince Charles and Lady Diana were married and lots of prominent Londoners are entombed within the crypts. There is a gorgeous dome that you can climb up 227 steps to sit and experience the cathedral from the top, although mysteriously the same stairs took 234 steps down. I know because I counted, because I hate heights, and I had a death grip on the rail and little old ladies were passing me. But I did it so stop judging me. We can’t be good at everything.
We also happened to be there for the noon services. What I really liked about the cathedral was that it was intentionally very welcoming as a faith community. When you’re that big and that fancy you don’t have to be. But it was quite nice to experience, and worth noting that they served communion as part of the service and anyone could partake. Every manner of persons just got in queue, and when they got to the front were given communion, no questions asked. Body of Christ, Blood of Christ, amen. I totally partook and spent some time quietly reflecting while the service was wrapping up.
Now I am really glad I did that but I did not notice until afterwards that some people, like me took their communion wafer and dipped it in the cup, while others actually sipped from the cup. The minister wiped it between sips but for the love it was the same cloth in the same spot and the OCD germaphobe in me died a little bit watching that happen. And then at the end the apparent ritual is for the minister to drink whatever was left. Down the hatch. I won’t lie, if the communal sipping made me uncomfortable, the drinking of the last bits was enough for me to visibly cringe.
Sadly no photos allowed inside.
After that we did a bit more touring and ended up by Westminster Abbey which we will visit later. We trekked through St James Park where we made friends with a family of geese and some ducks and pelicans and then off to Buckingham Palace, which is exactly like you see in the media. We landed there in time for the changing of the guard followed by the royal gift shop.
I had originally planned to buy myself a Harry and Megan commemorative tea mug but with exchange rate it would have cost $80 and for $80 a tea mug had better actually brew its own tea magically, so I left it there. But they really did have some absolutely lovely pieces. My favourite however, and possibly cuter than the baby geese in the park, was a box of stuffed toy corgis. Too cute.
Back to our hotel for a break and change for dinner. Today’s calamity would have started when I suggested going for a fancier dinner since we’ve been eating pretty frugally so far. A nice Italian/Sardinian restaurant around the corner. Awkward moment #1 was when I couldn’t open the door because it was a push and not a pull. I’m classy all the way. Awkward moment #2 was thirty seconds later when they seated us and it was clear that we waaaaayy underdressed, think country cousins go to dinner in the big city. #3 the room was quiet and you could hear the other conversations around the room, like the hedge fund managers next to us talking about million euro deals in Madrid. “Hey Rachel, do you think your dad had any trouble changing your snow tires to all seasons today?” #4 I ordered the special of the night, clam spaghetti because that should be easy right? But no, the clams were tiny and still in the shell and they served it with a finger bowl of iced lemon water. Or maybe it wasn’t a finger bowl but I wasn’t going to take a chance on getting it wrong so I meticulously wrestled the clam out of every single teeny tiny shell with my fork. Mercifully, the dessert and coffee were easier to manage and we laughed once we got outside.
No pictures there I’m afraid, it was not that sort of establishment.
A walk around the block and day 2 is in the history books. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.