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Short London Trip Report: Forget the umbrella, bring the sunscreen!

Short London Trip Report: Forget the umbrella, bring the sunscreen!

Apr 23rd, 2002, 02:14 PM
  #1  
BTilke
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Short London Trip Report: Forget the umbrella, bring the sunscreen!

A short notice business trip gave me a long week-end in London. First off, the weather was fabulous--sun, sun, sun and temps in the low 70s.
The beautiful weather made up for the annoying Eurostar trip. I usually travel in first class, but the last two trips were short notice, so I ended up with full fare second class tickets (about $320 round trip). When you travel first class in Eurostar, they spread the passengers evenly throughout the car. In second class, they clump everybody together, even if the rest of the car is empty. If the computer seat assignment program can spread people around in first class, it can do so in second. You can change seats, of course (which several of us did), but you have to wait til the train's about to depart and then hope no one wants your seat in Lille or Ashford.
Also, if you like a window seat, do NOT accept a seat assignment of seats 22 or 24 in second class. They don't have windows! It's the wall of the train. Again, why they assign people to those seats when several *real* window seats are available is beyond me, but it is annoying. I got assigned those seats coming and going. But enough Eurostar griping.
I stayed in the London Marriott County Hall and it was excellent. Definitely my new favorite hotel in London. A great location, right by the London Eye and a short walk from Westminster Abbey and Houses of Parliament. Rooms were large, well appointed and very comfortable. I had a terrific view of the Thames. The hotel also has a fully equipped fitness center, including rooftop lap pool (25 meters, I think). The attention from the staff was above the norm. Rate: £170 per night.

 
Apr 23rd, 2002, 02:29 PM
  #2  
BTilke
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(Part II)
Most of my free time was on Sunday and I attended the evensong service at Westminster Abbey. Very enjoyable and the sermon--on the situation in the Middle East--was thought provoking. Afterwards, I walked through St. James park toward Buckingham Palace and watched some of the filming for the new James Bond movie. (Supposedly there will also be a car chase scene through the inner ring and tunnels here in Brussels.)
That evening, we met up for dinner at Wagamama's. I know some people hate Wagamama, but I like it. Tasty and fast. But the real highlight of the evening was the cab ride over--the best cab ride I have ever had in London. Dave, the driver and cab owner, just happened to pull into the hotel when I needed a taxi. His cab--a frosted red lipstick color--is brand new and immaculate. Wood grained trim everywhere. It's a cigar lover's dream--Dave installed a humidor in the front and carries a full stock of Cuban cigars that he sells to passengers who ask (at well below store rates). I'm a nonsmoker and the cab was so well ventilated that you smelled just the faintest whiff of Cohiba. He gave me his business card, so if any of you are interested in enjoying a good Cuban cigar while you ride in one of London's best cabs, let me know.
Business on Monday morning, but the afternoon was free. I did some shopping on Jermyn street and had a very good lunch at Fortnum and Mason's, must better than I expected. Not that expensive, either. Afterwards, I took the Tube up to Hampstead.
Frankly, Hampstead was disappointing. I had been there many years ago when it still had its village feel. But now it's crowded, filled with chain stores and chain cafes, fairly dirty, and jam packed with traffic. I may poke around Highgate next time, but Hampstead left me cold. Perhaps if I hadn't been there before I wouldn't have noticied, but I think it's gone downhill (although real estate prices have gone way uphill).
Final note: a fun thing for older kids and spry adults is the Jumpzone near the London eye. I had a direct view of the Jumpzone from my hotel room and people seemed to really enjoy themselves on those trampolines. I might try it myself next time I'm in London.
 
Apr 23rd, 2002, 02:38 PM
  #3  
Kate
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Thank you - BTilke! Glad to hear the weather was good.We go to London mostly in OCt/Nov and have always been lucky with warmish days and no rain.
Too bad about Hampstead, I used to daydream about living there
I have sent your report to my daughter who is planning her 2nd trip to London this fall~
Kate
 
Apr 23rd, 2002, 02:41 PM
  #4  
beth anderson
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go you! I bet I have an idea what the business trip may have been about? (same as our chance meeting in London?)

good to hear London is still seeing lots of sun. My recent trip was nothing but nice weather - a welcome change to the month of January there!

Have a great time. hope to possibly see you in Brussels this year. (I might have a reason to head to The Hague very soon, more on that later in an email.)

take care!

Beth
 
Apr 24th, 2002, 12:54 PM
  #5  
JxF
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Thanks for brief update.

 
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