So… I saw the president this morning. Of course, that’s not what I set out to do today. But expected rain and colder temperatures put a bit of a damper on my original plans for the day (pun very much intended!). My original plan was to do a day trip to Rye. I was looking forward to wandering quiet streets, exploring the town, and enjoying afternoon tea. I knew a couple of days ago that the trip probably wouldn’t happen and was having trouble coming up with an alternate plan. Honestly, I would have been happy if I had been flying back to Boston today instead of tomorrow.
With no definitive plans, this morning I decided to pick a park I hadn’t visited yet and walk around. Regent’s Park it was. Regent’s is every bit as beautiful as St. James’s Park on a slightly smaller scale. There are formal English gardens, a pond for boating, and plenty of open space. Most of the flowers were in bloom, and I spent quite a bit of time taking pictures. From there, I decided to take the bus over to the Victoria and Albert Museum, though I hadn’t decided if I would visit the V&A or the Science Museum across the street. It was from the bus that I spotted the crowds (and hundreds of heavily armed police) gathered to see the president. I decided to get off at the next stop and see if I could see anything. Sure enough, there was the motorcade lined up to head to Windsor, where the president and first lady were scheduled to have lunch with the queen. There was a tent set up around the presidential limo, and a tented private entrance to the back of the Grosvenor House hotel. I stood around for about 15 minutes before the tent opened and the motorcade took off. I forgot to set my camera to a fast shutter speed, but did manage to get a few photos.
Next it was off to the V&A. This was my favorite museum from my last visit to London. I love the cast courts, which are full size plaster casts of historic columns, statues, etc. It is incredible to walk around and look up at the massive size of some of them. There was a one-hour introductory tour taking place shortly after I arrived, so I decided to join that. One of the nice things about London is that many of the museums are free to visit (similar to Washington, DC) and offer free tours and talks throughout the day. This tour spent a lot of time in the Asian art sections, but we did visit the cast courts for a few minutes. The museum is made up of 145 galleries covering 12.5 acres; you could easily spend days there and not see everything.
For the rest of the day I did my own culinary tour of London. I started at a small cafe I found online called Café Bella Maria for a scone and hot chocolate. It was tiny and warm and all of the chairs and tables and decor were mismatched in a homey kind of way. The scone was good, and the hot chocolate was even better. Sadly, it was probably the last scone of my trip. From there, I headed to Covent Garden to seek out the cider bar again. First though was a stop at Neal’s Dairy Yard on the way where I bought a block of cheddar and met the gentleman who made it in Somerset. I was assured it would travel okay in my suitcase. Then, I finally located the cider bar. Unfortunately, it is no longer a cider bar. Bummer. So I went in search of the other food item I wanted to try: Welsh rarebit. I remembered seeing it on a menu at a pub near Trafalgar Square and managed to find it. Coupled with a pint of cider, it made for a good final pub meal in London.
I know I should try to stay up late to get myself back to US time, but I’m too tired to try to stay up late! My flight doesn’t leave until almost 6:30 tomorrow night, so I’m heading to the Portobello Road Market in Notting Hill tomorrow before tackling the crowds at the Feast of St. George in Trafalgar Square!