7/18: I headed back to London for our mini-break, to the beautiful neighborhood of Notting Hill (and let's just establish now that I did not see Hugh Grant). Russ was coming for a visit, and we were going to spend a few days exploring, and doing all touristy things I had saved to do with him. After we had both arrived, we ventured out around the area to find dinner, and Russ had his first experience with pubs (we had fish & chips, of course), and with British money.
7/19: The next day we traveled to Greenwich, via the water taxi, to visit the National Maritime Musuem. You may remember that I have already been there, as it was our first class trip... but Russ really, really wanted to go (since he's all about maps, and such), and who was I to disappoint? Since it was getting hotter by the minute, we first walked - or should I say climbed - up to the Royal Observatory. There is a small museum on time up there, as well as the Prime Meridian. Just a sidebar: you don't have to wait in the obnoxiously long line to take a picutre of the PM, because there's a metal line that goes through the whole area to tell you where it is - so we have lots of pictures of us standing on the line. We made our way down, past the Elizabeth Oak, and back to the main museum, where we went through the different exhibits. And as we walked out, Russ said (very matter-of-fact) "this was the best day ever.'
7/20: We walked down to Portobello Road in the morning - it was so close to our B&B - and did a little shopping. Thank goodness I had not yet made my way down here until the near-end of my trip because I would have needed 4 suitcases instead of the 3 I had. It was so much fun to see all the old shops and antique displays. And of course I bought a book! Our next stop was Westminster Abbey. It was amazing, and so beautiful, and I am so happy I waited to see it with Russ. We both absolutely loved it. The tourist day continued as we headed for the London Eye. Our tickets were for one of the last time slots, and it was definitely a good choice to do a dusk ride because we could see all of the city as it prepared for night.
7/21: A somewhat lazy day. We headed to Camden in the morning, and walked around a little bit. And then we headed to Leiscester Square to see about getting some matinee show tickets. Though we struck out, we did end up experiencing a London movie theatre. It was kind of weird to be picking my seat when I bought the ticket, but I think that it works much better and they should do that in the US. Oh, and the concessions were much better; the popcorn was like kettle corn (my favorite), and they had Cadbury (which was mostly melted due to the heat in the lobby). The end of the day brought our 'fancy' dinner at Gordon Ramsay's restaurant, Maze Grill. It was very romantic, and the food was so delicious - I could have cut my steak with a butterknife - making it the perfect 'last night' date.
7/22: Boo to the last day! Seriously, the hottest day of the year... and keeping with the theme of torture we visited the Tower of London. Seeing the Crown Jewels was a treat, though I'm not quite sure it was worth the sweltering in the hot sun to wait in line for an hour, but at least the inside was airconditioned. We were on a time constraint so we didn't get to see everything, but we did get to see some of the most interesting parts of the Tower. Did you know that people still live there?
It was a whirlwind couple of days, but it was so much fun... and I had an amazing time exploring London with Russ. I headed back to my dorm after seeing him off at the train station (and visiting the Paddington Bear store), to prepare for my last week in London. A sad thought, but deep down I was ready to go home.