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London 'Tube-less', Fine dining, Fun excursions plus a GTG

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Dec 8th, 2017, 03:09 PM
  #1
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London 'Tube-less', Fine dining, Fun excursions plus a GTG

I haven't written a TR of my last 2 or 3 trips so need to get back in the saddle . . .

In August I injured my knee while visiting Peru and it has slowly improved but I still need to use a brace and at times a cane. Back in early Oct I assumed I'd be all hunky dory by the time my birthday rolled around in early Dec. So I booked a 6 night trip flying out Wed Nov 29 and flying home Dec 6. Unfortunately . . . it ain't back to normal (at least I can walk which wasn't the case 3 months ago)

So I had to make some changes and cut back on all the running around I usually do in London.

Wed/Thurs Flying in and Harry Potter: I booked business SMF > DFW > LHR (and coach home LHR > LAX > SMF - more on that later). AA ordered wheel chairs/cart at both DFW and LHR which were godsends. I can walk but its hard to 'airport walk' the miles involved places like LHR. Plus because of the wheel chair I didn't have to check my rollaboard. I had 4 hours in the DFW Admirals Club followed by an uneventful flight - managed to sleep about 5 hours. At LHR it was literally less than 15 minutes from the gate to the AA arrivals lounge. (being in the front of the plane expedites immigration and the wheel chair whisked me through all the way because I didn't have to wait for luggage). I had booked a justairports pick up about an hour and 45 mins after scheduled ETA because I assumed my room wouldn't be ready and I could have a quick stop in the lounge. When everything went so smoothly I ended up with nearly 90 mins there and managed a shower, snacks and Prosecco

The JA driver was right on time and the traffic wasn't bad. Arrived at Dolphin House in Pimlico approx 12:30 And my room would not be ready until about 3PM. They took my bag to store and I sat in the lobby deciding whether to hang around or head out. Almost immediately the manager came up -- he recognized me from my stay last March - and said he could see if it could be expedited. My room magically became ready in 5 mins And what a room!! They must have upgraded me -- it was on the top floor, distant views of the Eye and Parliament, large lounge, HUGE bathroom, large bedroom w/ two closets and lots of hangers, basic kitchenette and entry hall - all for £150/night.

I unpacked and headed out to Pimlico station an loaded a 7 day travelcard on my oyster. Then I could NOT get on the down escalator!!! Tried 3 times. Just impossible - I am not at all afraid of heights or escalators but with my cane and the speed of the escalator I just couldn't The attendant let me out through the barrier then back in and tried to help me board -- no dice. I finally decided trudging down the looooong-ish stairs (at least it wasn't the Northern line!! ) would be safer than falling down the escalator.

Up escalators are doable so I could get out at Kings Cross and walk down the road to the British Library for my timed ticket to the Harry Potter exhibition. Harry Potter was amazing. Quite extensive, with many original hand written and typed JK Rowling manuscripts with her edits and margin notes, a few of her own original drawings, her VERY detailed spread sheets spelling out the plot lines of the entire series before the first book was written, many of Jim Kay's original illustrations augmented with MANY ancient books and documents re the black arts, magic, apothecary, alchemy etc and a few interactive exhibits in a semi-theatrical setting. Entry is by timed tickets but the Library must not over-book the number in each time slot like many museums do - because it was fully sold out but it wasn't chockablock like many big blockbuster exhibitions elsewhere.

Afterwards I went to the travel center at Kings Cross and converted the 7 day travel card to PAYG since I was obviously not going to be using the tube much. Bought sandwich and bits at M&S at St Pancras and ate that night in the flat, watched telly, and was in bed by 9:30. Slept through till 7:00AM and felt relatively good - no jet lag to speak of..

Thurs was very VERY cold but no rain, mostly sunny.

Next: Friday - 'Impressionists in London' at Tate Britain, and evening Champagne tour of Windsor Castle.
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Dec 8th, 2017, 03:35 PM
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Signing on. Sorry your knee didn't improve faster - definitely a good thing you got wheelchairs. Sounds like a super deal on the hotel, will have to check it out.
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Dec 8th, 2017, 03:45 PM
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Yes, do -- and sometimes they have good deals for the studios on booking.com.

Oh -- meant to add there are lifts at Kings Cross/St Pancras so I didn't have the same down escalator issues there.
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Dec 8th, 2017, 04:09 PM
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Signing on to read all about your trip. I'm glad you were well accommodated with your knee injury.
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Dec 8th, 2017, 08:34 PM
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Friday - 'Impressionists in London' at Tate Britain, and evening Champagne tour of Windsor Castle. Had a nice, reasonably priced breakfast in the Dolphin Square Bar & Grill. Then I walked cane-less over to Tate Britain for the 'Impressionists in London exhibition. What a wonderful show! Monet, Pissaro, Sisley and several others who fled to England during the Franco Prussian War and unrest in Paris. Loved it. Afterwards I had my annual visit with 'Carnation, Lilly, Lily, Rose' and a few minutes with some of my favorite Turners. Had a light lunch and wine in the members room.

Walked back to flat to get a warmer scarf and relax a bit. Took a cab to Paddington and caught a train to Windsor, with a change at Slough. Stopped for hot mulled wine in a pub then up to the castle for evening champagne tour. We were a group of 14 and the tour was longer than I expected - nearly 2 hours and we were allowed inside the ropes in most rooms. Beautiful Christmas decorations in many rooms. Surprised to me that the Queen was in residence . . . Have never toured any of the royal residences when she was on site. Were served a quite decent champagne and then we walked down to the gift shop where we received a 20% discount. I took major advantage and filled a medium sized £40 shipping box completing a lot of my souvenir/Xmas list. VAT was over £60 so worked out great and I didn't have to lug anything home.

Trekked back to Windsor Central and caught a train - but just missed a close connection at slough so had to wait 25 mins in the COLD. But the next train was an express so not much later really to Paddington. Picked up and M&S sandwich at the station, caught cab and the traffic was crazy - Edgware rd was PACKED!!! So the meter was nearly £10 just to Marble Arch - £25 total. Sandwich/chips/wine in the flat and another good night"s sleep.

Saturday - Postal train/museum, Cezanne, Portrait Restaurant birthday dinner, 'Labour of Love' at the Noel Coward Theatre: There is a useful bus route through Pimlico (the #24) that connects to Victoria, Westminster, Charing Cross and Covent Garden/Leicester Square. But for this trip I chose to again cab it because the Postal Museum is way across town near Coram's Field's. You need to pre-book the postal train and it is a hoot https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwl8T_uhEFc Then spent about 30 minutes in the Postal Museum and could have spent twice that. It was really (surprisingly) interesting.

Afterwards I took a bus from Grays Inn Rd to Victoria and a cab from there back to the flat. After freshening up/changing I caught the 24 to Charing Cross rd, and collected the ticket for tonight's performance. Then the short walk to the National Portrait Gallery for the Cezanne exhibition. really enjoyed this show -- more than 50 Cezanne portraits from collections all over the world. Then I had about half an hour for a quick look at the Taylor Messing Photographic Prize exhibit before heading upstairs for a 5:30 pre-theatre dinner. Had the very best seat in the Portrait restaurant, very center window seat. Had a bellini cocktail, olives, terrine starter. As for the main - for the life of me I can't remember what it was (do know it was fish but which fish???? A nice white wine and STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING The back to the theatre for 'Labour of Love'. Martin Freeman (Watson in Sherlock) and Tasmin Greig were wonderful in their roles. The entire play is staged in a Labour MP's office oop north over a period of 20 years. Freeman is the MP and Greig is his constituency agent. The supporting cast were OK but were sorta unnecessary Act 2 was especially good - maybe because I had champagne at the interval. But really the play was funny, and poignant and well written.

Took the #24 all the way 'home'. Laundry, choc digestives and tea before crashing. Big day tomorrow.

next: Sunday - tour of the Greenwich Painted Hall ceiling restoration, Eltham Palace and back to central London -- all by public transport without a stair or escalator
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Dec 9th, 2017, 02:48 AM
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on for ride
bilboburgler is online now  
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Dec 9th, 2017, 04:26 AM
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I was in London after a knee injury and found the Tube to be torture. I am spoiled by US ADA requirements for transport(tho' for how much longer I wonder).I wound up taking buses most places (except to & from the airport) and love that anyway as one sees so much more.
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Dec 9th, 2017, 06:25 AM
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for anyone with a gammy leg take two buses for only £1.50

https://tfl.gov.uk/campaign/hopper-fare

buy one get one free
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Dec 9th, 2017, 06:42 AM
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Very interested in how you are getting around, given my health issues this year. The Windsor tour sounds lovely, except champagne gives me a headache!
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Dec 9th, 2017, 07:15 AM
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Enjoying another of your views of London; I always learn a lot! Hope the knee is healing more each day.
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Dec 9th, 2017, 09:59 AM
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hen I walked cane-less over to Tate Britain for the 'Impressionists in London exhibition. What a wonderful show! Monet, Pissaro, Sisley and several others who fled to England during the Franco Prussian War and unrest in Paris. Loved it. >>

That's good to know, I'm going with 2 friends the week after next while I'm staying in Kent. We will have lunch afterwards at the Liberal Club where one of them is a member. I hope that I'll have time to look at the Turners too - the last time I saw them was when I went with DH over 30 years ago.

I also envy you seeing Tamsin Greig in the flesh - you probably know that as well as doing a lot of TV work, she plays "Debbie" in the Archers of which I' m a big fan. Sounds like a good night out.
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Dec 9th, 2017, 10:01 AM
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Enjoying your report. Like thursdays, I have mobility issues this year, so am interested in how you are getting around.
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Dec 9th, 2017, 10:03 AM
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Really enjoying this, and feeling your pain as I've made half a dozen voyages in recent years with foot problems. PITA, but it'll never stop me from traveling.
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Dec 9th, 2017, 01:03 PM
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Loving your TR. I'll have to check out the Windsor champagne tour. Looking forward to your next installments.
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Dec 9th, 2017, 02:16 PM
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Enjoying your TR as well! Glad your injury didn't give you too much trouble...
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Dec 9th, 2017, 03:03 PM
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Grrrr Wrote a long entry covering Sunday & Monday but the frickin' site quit on me and I had to start over. Here is the Sunday bit . . .

Sunday - tour of the Greenwich Painted Hall ceiling restoration, Eltham Palace and back to central London -- all by public transport without a stair or escalator

Today is my acid test for covering great swaths of London with mobility issues. Several months ago jamikins (I think it was) posted info re tours of the ceiling of the Painted Hall at Greenwich and it sounded like something I'd enjoy. Last time I tried to visit the Hall it was closed for a special event. When I pre-booked the tix in October I 'assumed' my knee would be fine by December -- wasn't/isn't. So I panicked a little when a follow up e-mail received a couple of weeks before I left home reminded that there are 65 steps to the ceiling/platform. But there was a note that there was very limited lift access (one person allowed up the lift per tour) So I rang them up and was thrilled that no one on my tour (there were 10 of us) had booked the lift. Done over the phone - all's well. Then on Friday night when I returned from Windsor there was an e-mail suggesting I cancel or re-schedule because the disabled access lift from the ground up to the Ground floor of the painted Hall was temporarily out of service. I e-mailed back right away (didn't want to lose my lift access ticket) explaining that I can walk with a cane and am not wheelchair bound. and want to keep the booking. I am very familiar with those steps and it is really only about half a flight.

My booking was for 11AM so a little before 10 I head out to catch the #24 to Westminster, where I took the Jubilee line to Canary Wharf. (Thank goodness for the Jubilee Line!!! It is basically step free all the way from Green Park to its eastern terminus at Stratford - seems weird that west of Green Park it is pretty much as bad as the rest of the tube system). Then from CW I caught the DLR to Cutty Sark/Greenwich. (Thank goodness for the DLR!!! ) Arrived early so walked through the market for a few minutes then stopped in a cafe for tea and a croissant.

Arrived at the Painted Hall just before 11:00 and got kitted out in vests and hard hats and sat through a very informative introduction and video. Then the rest of my group trudged up the stairs and I was escorted up in the lift. WOW. The platform - covers the entire Hall so sort turns the ceiling into an attic space with none of the ceiling visible from the floor below. The platform is barely 8 feet above this temporary floor -- maybe less. So you can almost reach up and touch the painting. They give you hand mirrors to examine areas in detail without breaking your neck. But most simply lay down on the floor and looked straight up. I couldn't do that cuz' of the knee and maybe/probably not being able to get up again But using the mirror helped a lot. They also give you a large fold out map of the entire ceiling so you can tell the cast of characters (and HUGE cast it is). I didn't time it but I think we were up in the ceiling about 45 minutes.

After returning to terra firma, I took the DLR to the end of the line at Lewisham, where I caught the train to Mottingham. From the station its about a half mile, FLAT, walk to Eltham Palace, maybe a little farther by the time you get to the visitors center/entrance. I will have to visit again when the gardens are in bloom because they are vast and must be lovely in the Spring. The house was built in the 30's but the Courtaulds only lived there until 1944 when it was taken over by the army. It was opened to the public in the '90's. Such a gorgeous place -- I had been once before maybe 12-15 years ago, but new areas have been opened including Ginnie's wardrobe and the basement with a wartime bunker, Billiards room and darkroom, and it is a more complete visit now. If anyone is interested in modern domestic architecture you MUST visit Eltham Palace. It really is a wonder.

Had a lovely cottage pie and red wine in the cafe then walked/semi hobbled by this time, back to the station where I caught the train to Charing Cross, and the #24 home. Relaxed for a while then went down to the on-site Bar & Grille for a light dinner of (massive) tiger prawns, wine and some lovely gooey chocolatey thing for dessert.

next:Monday - Balenciaga and a little opera at the V&A, lunch at Outlaws (WONDERFUL!!!!!!!), evening GTG with PatrickLondon and flanneruk . . .
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Dec 9th, 2017, 03:09 PM
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What a wonderful trip!
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Dec 9th, 2017, 03:14 PM
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Meant to emphasize that the ENTIRE day there were no stairs or escalators (except for the 8 or so steps up to the ground floor of the painted Hall and stairs down to the basement at Eltham Palace).
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Dec 9th, 2017, 09:59 PM
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Hi Janice,
Interested to read about your latest London trip and please to hear that the physical constraints didn't stop you enjoying the things you'd planned to see.
We found Eltham fascinating too, it makes such an interesting contrast to so many "stately homes" and I loved the Courtauld connection. We'll be in London for five days at the beginning of January so I've enjoyed hearing about the current art exhibits in town so thanks for posting.
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Dec 10th, 2017, 08:31 AM
  #20
 
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oh dear, yet more places in London that I've never been to. one day I will treat myself to a stay in the capital and do all the things you and others have written about.
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