Monday, June 28, 2010


After a few hours of sleep on the plane Saturday night, I hit the ground in London ready to go! I had about 6 hours, and I didn't plan to waste a second of them. Customs was a breeze, and it was so easy to drop my carryons at the bag leave. The Express Train into London is such a perfect idea...nonstop from Heathrow into Paddington, and buying my ticket ahead of time online made it even better.
I had my route all planned, so I knew exactly which Underground to hop to get to Kensington palace. The walk from High Street Kensington Station to Hyde Park/Kensington was intriguing. Families were shopping in the high end London clothing stores and novelty shops like Laura Ashley and Whole Foods. It was so exciting to see Hyde Park after all the novels I've read and history books I've studied. It really is amazingly huge. Families and friends of all ages were in the park playing, picnicking, and sun bathing. There are restaurants, paddle boats and canoes for rent, and lots of exercise trails. My sense loved taking it all in! It wasn't a far walk into Hyde Park before I reached this sight:

I had purchased my ticket for Kensington online, so they had my guidebook and 'dance card' for the palace ready to go when I arrived. Of course, like most historical sites, indoor photos aren't allowed, but the guide book has lots of neat drawings and photos. The palace is under renovation for the 2012 Olympics crowd, but the curators set up a great exhibit that leads the visitors through snip its of the lives of 7 of the princess who called Kensington home over the past 450 years. Everyone loves Diana, but Victoria has always been my favorite, probably because she lived one of the greatest romance stories ever told and had a passion for her subjects, most of whom equally loved her. I loved getting to walk up and down the stair case that lead the then Princess Victoria from her suite to the main entry for the arrival of visitors or to go outdoors. Her mother was so protective that someone always had to hold Victoria's hand up or down the stairs, even as a teen, in case she fell. Thanks, Mom, for giving me more independence than that! Because of the reconstruction, this is the best photo I could get of the statue of Victoria:
These are the main gardens that are open while the rest of the palace is being renovated. Lovely, lovely view.
After my tour, I was starving, and though it was only 2:30 and not quite traditional tea time, I headed to The Orangery for a traditional tea. The Orangery is built on the exterior much like the main building of Kensington, but was first used as a greenhouse in winter and party room in summer.
The inside is all white, and would've made a lovely backdrop for a summer ball! Oh, the grandeur! :)
I chose the Enchanted Tea to go with the theme of the palace exhibit, and it was delicious! It was served with chocolate tea, four finer sandwiches of cucumber, ham, salmon, and cheese, a super moist scone with proper clotted cream and jam, and a raspberry tart and chocolate mousse cake.
Two sweet ladies asked me to take their picture and then wanted to return the favor.
After tea, I had 2 hours before I had to be back on the train to the airport. As I studied my map, I realized that Buckingham Palace wasn't too far from the southeast corner of Hyde Park. I was on the west side, and figured it wouldn't be too far of a walk across the park and on to Buckingham. Ahem, the London map was NOT to scale. If you've ever walked with me, you know I don't understand what a leisurely pace is to begin with, but it still took me an hour and a half of hauling booty to get there. Oops! However, I'm so very, very glad I rose to the challenge and made my way, mostly unassisted, across a section of London I had never seen before. I was able to pass the Diana Memorial Fountain, see the Serpentine (a huge pond/small lake in Hyde Park), watch many more families enjoying the day, pass the WWII memorials, and see so much of sunny London. Besides, I needed to move after 8 hours on a plane with another 9 ahead of me!
Plus, when I round the corner and saw THIS:
and ultimately THIS: was completely worth it.
I had another 10 minute walk to Victoria Station, 20 minutes on the Tube, and then on to Heathrow. What an amazingly beautiful layover the Lord blessed me with in London!!!!

1 comment:

Shelley said...

What an awesome London update! We have never been before. After reading your post I'm ready to start packing! :-)

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