Wednesday – A Stroll in Olde Londontowne

We departed for London on British Airways (try the bed-seats in Business Class – definitely the way to go!) and arrived about six hours later. Check-in at the Four Seasons Hotel was surprisingly quick (instead of going to the front desk to register, the front desk came to us – a representative showed us to our room and checked us in there on the spot.) The hotel exhibited an Old World European charm, featuring ornate all-wood hallways, large guest rooms with soaking bathtubs and bidets, and windows that opened to a beautiful park below. We could see Buckingham Palace (and Her Majesty the Queen was home, no less.)

After a brief nap on a very cozy bed, we decided to explore the city. London is one of the most wondrous melting pots of nationalities and cultures found anywhere in the world. At Buckingham Palace, we saw the Queen swept away in her limousine with an army of guards. Her Majesty waved to us as they passed by. A quaint custom: when the Queen is residing in Buckingham Palace, they fly a flag different than the usual “Union Jack.” When Her Majesty isn’t staying at Buckingham Palace, she’s usually at one of her two other residences, in the English countryside and in Scotland.

We also wanted to see Princess Diana’s former home, Kensington Palace. It’s largely hidden in a residential area, with gates locked, along what’s known as “billionaire’s row.” We were able to see the driveway with a Rolls Royce sitting there in wait. The Palace was similar to a large mansion in the U.S. and nothing too elaborate from what we could see from the residential street. Later, we visited the National Museum of History in London. It left quite an impression and the price was right, as there’s no charge to visit any museum in London. “Jolly good show” as they’d say in Londontowne!

We did some shopping and were intrigued by a quaint little shop called “Taylor’s on Old Bond Street.” They offered my husband an old-fashioned shave using a straight razor (complete with hot towels and face massage) for USD $30. Then off to other stores, and plenty of other good “buys” that caught my fancy, including exquisite little perfume bottles and cashmere gloves. (My husband considered a kilt with a tuxedo top, although he already has two kilts.) Splendid little restaurants were everywhere, and we had “high tea” and scones that afternoon in one of them. The quaint formality of the experience was a joy – we almost expected “Prince Charlie,” as the cabbies call him, to stroll into our restaurant at any moment.

On our way to these shops, we passed the 5-star “Mandarin Hotel” packed with reporters and paparazzi clearly awaiting the arrival of someone very famous. Was it Her Majesty?