We had decided to go to Monschau, I had a first plan, had selected a hotel, but the weather didn't play along. Decision was taken to go to London. Scratch preparation. We were thursday 10 30 pm.
Hop. Some clicks on Eurotunnel.com, seelction of a seemingly extraordianry hotel thanks to TripAdvisor. 4 30 pm : kids are back from school, car loaded, fully tanked.
First mistake : we didnt" check when the Frenchs were on holiday. These people have qualities but like to clog the roads when we want to use them. So it was total chaos around Lille and we arrived 15 min too late.
Eurotunnel is superbly organized : they scan your registration, then post your name on the scree and tell you 'sorry you are late, you can get on the next one for 19,95 €. Click.
Folkestone. Bloody Brits drive on the wrong side but ok. Pitstop somewhere, second mistake, we follow the signs to London instead of GPS. We'll arrive by the south instead of the east. Long way towards London, and speeding cameras are efficient... Arriving in London - perfect. Aw... friday evening, lots of congestion, roadworks... spending nearly one hour to make the last 10 kms.
Ok. found a parking spot close to the hotel (St Pancras Inn). Hotel ok (far from deserving the rank of 23st but still ok). Great welcome, formalities done. Going to Pancras, finding a very nice restaurant (gilbert something : good but awfully expensive, service very nice). Good night. Excellent breakfast. on the way by down. Only 10 30... going to Camden, stop at a library. I like to read in english, and my daughters start to do the same.
Camden high street is quite fun, lots of funky shops, clothes that nobody can wear unless being bizarre. Lots of Frenchs everywhere - ah yes, they are on holiday... Went along the canal and ended up in Regent's Park. Lunch in Queen Mary inner cicrle. Fish and chips, ordered in French (they really are everywhere), fighting some pigeons who were doing a good job : one attacks my peas, another one my fries (!) and the third one my fish.
From there direction Oxford street for shopping (daughters, remember ?) nice people.
Wandering in SoHo first, quite lovely, then on Oxford - demonstration of pro-Palestinians blocking the way, we avoid carefully.
Beginning to feel tired, forgetting the idea of a show (alas), stopping somewhere to eat icecream (and sitting - it is impossible in London to sit in pubs, they are overcrowded)...Very helpful and smiling people, selling excellent icecream.
Ending in Picadilly circus, getting a taxi, back to hotel. A bath, then selecting (on Tripadvisor) some nice restaurants in a street nearby. First one definitely closed, second one not open, third one half pub half restaurant, so avoiding (child with us). Japanese or Chinese ? We choose . . .wrongly. One of the worst chinese since quite a time. Back to hotel.
Getting early this time... Excellent breakfast. Gone at ... 11 am, hum, revising the plans. Going to Tower of London with the car, finding a parking, casting an eye on tower of London, booking a cruise to Westminster. Disembarking, must go back one hour later.
Visiting Westiminster Abbey, ah, no. Sunday. Lack of planning does this.... Ok, going to whithell, showing 10 Downing street to the children. Visiting the Bqnuet room from the old Whitehall palace - very beautiful. Ceilings painted by Rubens I think.
Going back to the boat... arr, quite late for that, changing our plans. So going to Trafalgar square, buying some tourist stuff. Then Taxi to Tower of London, eating close by (burgers, nice). Then the rush stops. Going back to the car, then home. No more traffic jams, 2 hours less to reach home than on the way in.
A very nice if not totall hectic, chaotic and overcrammed week-end.
For all the things we still wanted to do, it will haver to wait for a next visit.
London is still one of our loveliest cities, a great mix of ancient places and building, history everywhere, punky side and modern buildings. And the same mixity in people - white collars, blue collars, no collars, white, black, Asians, Pakistanis, etc etc. Plus tourists everywhere and nobody seems to be sleeping in this city.
Hoping I enticed some of you to go to this fabulous city.
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