The countryside gave way to the typical cityscape of tall buildings, factories, hotel chains, restaurant chains. Yes, even good old McDonald’s is represented on the outskirts of London. Our air-conditioned coach wound around through the city traffic, smoothly gliding along through the crowded streets to Copthorne Tara Hotel at Scarsdale Place, Kensington, London, W8 5SR, U.K. Yes, we were in the Royal Borough of Kensington just off of High Street. As we traveled around, I realized that the towns in England used “High Street” like we use “Main Street” here in the United States. We learned that Kensington is a wealthy area of London – obviously so, since Princess Diana lived in the Kensington Royal Palace, as do Prince William and Duchess Kate along with Prince George. Side note – The new pregnancy was announced the day we arrived. How’s that for a memory maker?
What to do first? We had to make some fast decisions. Food was primary, so a few of us chose to lunch at Bill’s at 125 Kensington High Street.
Bill’s is a combination of old-fashioned pub, factory style open pipes, old fixtures and just plain ole stuff.
What does a newbie order for her first meal in London? Why, fish and chips, of course. Be forewarned — fish and chips can be different depending on where you eat. This time, I had cod strips and fries (chips). Bill’s fries had it all over French Fries. They were seriously delicious – round like American fries but curved and soft with plenty of salt and served inside a cardboard cup/paper. I only had these once – never saw them again.
We would all learn the English veggie staple. Mushy peas. No, I’m not kidding. Some places give you the option of whole peas or mushy peas. Other places just bring the mushy peas. Yuck – this little girl likes her peas light green, al dente, and whole, please. Just looking at mushy peas made my nose twitch.
And soft drinks? Thank God for tea, because Coca-Cola is the big one across the pond. I’m a Diet Pepsi girl from way back when. It didn’t take me long to learn to ask first.
Our bellies filled with traditional fare, we had an hour or so to check out our rooms and freshen up for the Rock & Roll London Tour. Rest, nap? Nope. Phyllis went online, reserved a London Black Taxi for five of us and a nap would have to wait.
I believe I was blessed on this trip when it came to accommodations. Flights? Not so much, but that is for another day. My room at Copthorne Tara was booked as a single. The elevator listed different info for some floors. Being Miss Marly, the last thing I looked at was elevator panels. Punch 8 and take me up, baby! I had to rock and roll in an hour. (We had been up since the morning before – by now, I had been awake 30 hours.)
My room was cool, a full size bed and nice TV, desk if I needed it, and a bathrobe with slippers waiting on the bed. Who could ask for more? Apparently, most of my fellow travelers. A husband and wife were given twin beds and not much else. Phyllis was down the hall from me on the eighth floor – her complimentary robe was full of holes. I’m telling you, I was blessed. Soft fluffy white terry cloth, a comfortable bed. If only there was time to lie down.
Into the bathroom I went, plopping my makeup bag on the counter. Hmmmm, this was rather strange. Old plumbing? Different culture? Both, I think. A long, narrow bathtub that was great for soaking my bad knee. The tub was actually iron covered by porcelain I think. No jets like I’m used to, but the water was hot and the tub was deep.
Next up: Rock & Roll London Tour
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