Thursday, December 15, 2011

Out on the Town in London

I can’t believe it has been 17 years since we were last in London! After debarking the Queen Mary 2 in Southampton, we got on a motor coach arranged through Cunard for the 1 hour and 45 minute ride to Victoria Station in London. From there we took a taxi to the Grosvenor House, a swanky hotel located on Park Lane in Mayfair. In this area of London, you can easily drop ₤65 (approx. $100) every time you open your wallet.

The first thing I wanted to do after we arrived was take a walk to Harrods since this has to be one of the world’s best places to window shop. I can’t afford to do anything other than window shop. We walked through the door only a half hour after Harrods opened and it was already teeming with people. I found a pair of men’s loafers for ₤5,300! For that price I would insist they have a heater and massager built into them.

Although Steve and I are not generally beer drinkers, we discovered two great beers during our time out on the town. One was Innis & Gunn, an oak-aged beer brewed in Scotland; we discovered Innis & Gunn while sitting at the bar waiting for our table at the JW Steakhouse, one of the restaurants in the Grosvenor House. Steve also thought the chips (French fries) at the JW Steakhouse were the best he ever had and asked the waiter for the secret sauce. The secret sauce turned out to be cooking the chips three times. You normally don’t make eye-opening culinary discoveries at hotel restaurants so the JW Steakhouse was truly an exception. Regarding the other great beer we discovered – it was called Crafty Devil, which we enjoyed on Halloween night at the Salisbury Pub in Covent Garden before going to see Priscilla Queen of the Desert at the Palace Theatre.

London is a wonderful city to get out in the fresh air and walk to see the major sights. However, if you only have two days like us and still want to see it all, take a ride on the London Eye. The London Eye is the most intricately designed Ferris wheel that I have ever seen. It’s the tallest cantilevered observation wheel in the world, rising 135 meters above the London skyline and you can see for miles. We happened to board it at 4:30pm which was ideal because we saw the city both in the slowly fading light and at twilight. I bought the 360° mini guide and had a great time identifying many of the buildings and pointing them out to Steve so he could take some great photos. What a team!