London is one of my favorite cities, it has all the historical attractions, the cosmopolitan activities and this year even the Olympics. But this time I encountered London with dismay. Yes, dismay is the word to describe what is happening at Heathrow. The line for passport control is extremely long. It extends past the area originally designed for it, down one hall, up another and then down another one. Everyone who tries to get to the end of the line is dismayed by it. It took us over an hour and half to get through the line. When we got down to baggage claim, I spoke to a gentleman who works for the bag company about the second problem, the huge pile up of luggage. Yes, for once your bags will get there before you do. He said that the bag claim closes before everyone can get downstairs to claim their luggage. So for those flying in late, they might have problems with suitcases. In my opinion that is another reason to travel light and only bring what you can fit in a carry on.
This time we are staying at the St. Ermin’s Hotel. It is located in Westminster very convenient to the St James tube stop. As always when we get to the hotel we are exhausted and no rooms are ready. They gave us a room but it had a weird layout. So in the afternoon they moved us to a beautiful suite with a canopy bed and a rain shower. Lovely! I still have to figure out how to get the best room when you are so tired and all you want is to lay down and take a shower. If anyone knows the trick please let me know.
We did the one tourist attraction we still hadn’t done, the London Eye. Even though the line was long it moved quickly. The views are amazing. Seeing Westminster Palace from atop gives you a difference perspective as to it’s size and beauty.
Near the Waterloo station we found a lovely food market. It had snacks, meals, desserts, deli meats from all over the world. We didn’t eat there because we wanted to eat near the London Bridge station at our favorite restaurant. How disappointing when we got there to find out that they no longer serve pasta. But there was Restaurant Alma across the street and the ravioli Alma was awesome with asparagus and mushroom sauce.
We were lucky to have the Bank of England Museum open late. Remember most museums close early in London but they are open late every once in awhile. The museum is free. It has some very interesting displays on the history of the bank, the evolution of currency both coin and note and you even get a chance to hold a real gold bar. Yes, 28 lbs of pure gold. How rich I felt. The displays were interesting for adults and interactive enough for children. I would recommend this free museum to anyone coming to London. It is so expensive to be here that when you find good things to do for free you should seize the chance.