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Trip Report Five-Star Trip on a Three-Star Budget

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My sister, my daughter, and I returned last week from three weeks in England and Scotland, my sister’s first trip abroad except for a week in London several years ago. Hotel rooms for three left something to be desired, mainly a good third bed, but what with using windowsills and toilet tank tops to hold the makeup for the three of us, we managed.

London:

We arrived at Heathrow early on a Wednesday morning and, contrary to my better judgment and on Daughter’s recommendation, we took the tube into town. It was okay when we got on; but the morning commuters had to have found our combined luggage a real nuisance, although we encountered the first of many, many helpful people (quite a lot of them young women) who just picked up a suitcase and lifted it off and on the tube and later trains quite cheerfully as if we were theirs to take care of. Maybe grey hair comes in handy.

We stayed at the Park International Hotel on Cromwell Road for five nights. It was already booked when I read here that the Piccadilly Line at the Gloucester Road tube station was closed, but we figured we could change lines and/or walk easily enough. That was before the whole line was shut down over the weekend. Packed sardines didn’t hold a candle when we came out from the theater. The whole tube station was full of people backed up to the street trying to get to their destinations. We let one train go by and then pushed with the best of them, got to South Kensington, and walked from there; but the experience changed our minds about going to St. Paul’s to church on Sunday morning. Instead, we went just up Gloucester Road to St. Stephen’s, a smaller and quite beautiful Anglican church. We chose the early service to have more free time in the afternoon, and we were the only three people there until a young man wearing his backpack came in about halfway through. It was quite a personal service!

I had prebooked the Buckingham Palace & Garden tour which was lovely. It was quite crowded inside, which might explain why I especially enjoyed the garden tour. We did a London Walks tour of Westminster Abbey, saw The Thirty-Nine Steps at the theater, went to Salisbury on a day trip, spent some time at the V&A Museum, walked in Kensington Park, and shopped at Selfridge’s and Harrod’s. Sis bought a pretty sweater on sale at Selfridge’s. The clerk asked if we watched the Masterpiece Theater show, so I suppose they are getting extra business from it. Mostly we just walked around in Harrod’s but did buy some metal Christmas ornaments filled with chocolates for gifts to take home.

Our first afternoon tea was at Richoux and the second at a Valerie's Patisserie in Salisbury, delighting Sis who asked if all the food was that good. I have been recommending Brown’s Restaurant on St. Martin’s Lane for years because we have liked their Steak & Ale Pie and the Sticky Toffee Pudding so much. I now retract the recommendation. We did their pre-theater menu, and the steak was not very tender and the gravy tasted like it was made from an envelope of brown gravy mix. Even the Sticky Toffee Pudding was not as good as in the past and not nearly as good as some we had later in the trip. We did enjoy our revisit to the Delhi Brasserie on Cromwell Road.

More to come.

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