Sunday, February 17, 2008

London: Day 2

I rang in Day Two a little grumpy and groggy this morning. First, I woke up later than I liked (10:30 a.m.) and honestly could have slept another two hours. I had planned to work out in the morning before setting off to explore (Phil and I have a race in two weeks), so I hurriedly got ready and called the front desk to ask what floor houses the fitness center. The receptionist said it was closed (!) for refurbishing but that I could come get a pass to a club nearby. I was caught off-guard because I confirmed in advance that this hotel had a gym, and its closing wasn't mentioned when I checked in. But, I did like the thought of having free access to a full-scale gym.

So, got directions and a pass, walked the 10 minutes to get there and the bloody place was closed. Turns out they're not open on the weekend. I went back to the hotel to ask about another location, and the concierge sheepishly apologized and offered to pay for the cab to another location, which was about a 10-minute ride away. I took him up on his offer (good customer service!), but decided to go later in the day so I didn't miss admissions for anywhere I planned to visit.

The day really picked up after that, particularly when I found a tiny spot called Pure Waffle down the street to eat a late breakfast. Yum! I had pecan and butterscotch waffles with a cappuccino. They have smoothies (got one later in the day when I was on my way back to my hotel) and waffle dogs (yes, a hot dog wrapped in a waffle). I don't think I'll be able to leave London without enjoying a waffle dog (I know my husband will roll his eyes when he reads this).

Next, I passed the most adorable shoe store I've ever seen: Pretty Ballerinas. If you don't already, there are three things you need to know about me: 1) I love carbs. 2) I love ballerinas 3) Did I mention that I love carbs? So waffles and ballet flats made me a happy girl. The shoe shop was closed, but I'm definitely going back (sorry Phil).

Although the British Museum (free!) was only two Tube stops from my hotel, it took me about a half hour to find it once I got on foot. My map sucked, so without knowing it, I kept passing it up via different routes. The trek was worth it, and I loved the visit as much as my first one seven years ago. The museum houses the Rosetta Stone, which was the tablet that finally enabled experts to translate hieroglyphics, ginormous figures from the Parthenon pediment (part of the roof of a famous Greek temple), Cleopatra's mummy! and really ornate samurai and Chinese carnival costumes. I also saw a Roman baking tool from 200 A.D. that looked like a cupcake pan, which for some reason I thought was hilarious.

I was a dummy and forgot to replace my camera battery before I left, so I don't have pics from there. I do have cool ones that I took in 2001 at home, though.

There's a whole gallery that houses all of the mummies and sarcophagi they have, and I noticed a display that housed mini statues of servants that were placed in the dead's sarcophagus so they were absolved of chores in the afterlife. I think I'm going to start carrying statues of maids in my purse so I can get out of cleaning chores.

Next, I went to Kensington Palace to see Diana's dress collection in the exhibit, Diana: A Princess Remembered. I'd taken the requisite trip to Buckingham Palace the first time I was in London to see the changing of the guards, but hadn't visited Kensington. Actually, I have a funny photo of my girlfriend and me posing with/torturing one of the guards. We really were fearless.
Anyway, the tour through Kensington Palace was a bit of a snoozer. I liked the dresses, but there were only 12. I was expecting to admire a huge collection. So, my favorite part of this visit was designing my own Kensington Palace crown with a bunch of six-year-olds. I'm keeping that thing forever.

On the way back to the Tube, I walked through the Kensington Gardens and admired The Round Pond and everyone in-line skating and dog walking. Saw an adorable whippet that made me think of my greyhound Zippy.

I came back to my hotel around 4:45 p.m. (did not wear my crown on the Tube) and then changed for the gym and took the complimentary cab. Ran for 20 minutes (of course they closed within 30 minutes of my arrival) and realized the treadmill speed and distance calculated is in kilometers and the weights for the bench are in kilograms. Definitely makes things interesting. At least I knew I ran for 20 minutes!

I took the Tube back to my hotel and grabbed a smoothie from Pure Waffle. I chalked up a new line to my running tally, so now I've ridden on seven of the 12 Tube lines by my second day. Going 12 for 12 is looking pretty good...

I started feeling sleepy when I got home from the gym, so I decided to stay in for the remainder of the night. Originally, I was going to go out to King's Road for shopping, but I'm sure I'll find an evening this week to go back. So, now I'm recapping my day and prepping for my meetings tomorrow. The weather is supposed to get up to 60 degrees this week, which rocks. I've been having good luck on my travels as of late. Tomorrow: business meetings and dinner at Nobu (we'll see if Giles makes fun of me...I'll tell you tomorrow).

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