You know how you look forward to a big vacation for months? How you plan what you’re going to do, and you anticipate how much fun you’re going to have? How you work through each layer of detail — how you’re going to get to the amazing vacation place, and where you’re going to stay, which meals you’ll eat where?
And as vacation time gets closer and closer, the days grow too short, and you wonder if you can ever, possibly, get every single thing done that needs to get done, and then you’re packing, and heading to the airport, and you realize that you meant to get those three things done, and wait, you forgot to pack that, and oops, you didn’t call the credit card company to tell them you’d be traveling overseas, and eek, it’s all spinning out of control?
But then, you arrive in London. And a driver picks you up at the airport (yep — a *driver* — just like you’re an important person, even though it’s really because the other transportation costs are high, and the hour is very late, and a driver actually makes the most sense, fiscally and sanity-ly). And the driver deposits you at a beautiful modern hotel, just a few minutes’ walk away from Parliament, and Westminster Abbey, and the hustle and bustle of the city.
And a wonderful week begins.
I won’t bore you with the details. Suffice to say that much museum-ing was done — the British Museum, and the V&A, the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum, the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery and the Tate Modern. Historical sites were visited — the Tower of London and the Churchill War Rooms and the Monument to the Great Fire. Churches were explored — Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s. We took an evening Jack-the-Ripper tour of Whitechapel, beginning by stepping through the Roman Wall at the edge of the City of London, ending outside an East End tavern where several of Jack’s victims regularly drank.
We had some superb meals — at Fish! (an upscale fish restaurant in Borough Market), and Wild Honey (a bistro-type place with locally sourced food), and Dalaunay (ditto, with a high-end cafe feel), and A. Wong (a tiny Chinese restaurant with unique dishes that were familiar enough to be yummy and creative enough to be memorable), and Rock and Sole Plaice (traditional fish and chips). We also ate gigantic breakfasts every morning at our hotel, fortifying us for long days of walking, Tube-ing, double-decker-bus-ing, etc. I discovered a new dessert — Eton mess (crunchy meringue, whipped ;cream, and fresh strawberries).
We saw Peter and Alice, a lovely, introspective play by John Logan, with stellar performances by Judi Densch and Ben Whishaw. (The show was all the more striking because it was completely sold out for its entire run, and we just happened to venture into the box office a few minutes after a pair of tickets had been turned in for the evening performance on our actual anniversary.)
We had three days of glorious sunshine, a few days of overcast, one day of drizzle, and one of out and out rain (which we spent, almost entirely, inside the British Museum).
We had dinner with family friends on one night, and we ran into an author friend — totally unexpectedly — at the Tower of London.
At the end of our week, we knew that we had barely scratched the surface of London sightseeing. We could have stayed for another week, a month, a year.
But, alas, the real world beckons. There are books to finish writing, groceries to be bought, bills to pay. Life in all its myriad details.
But, wow. We had a wonderful, wonderful time. What a way to celebrate ten happy years of marriage!