Monday, May 08, 2006

Wannabe British

Looking into room from futuristic bathroom

Often my short trips to big cities does not involve a Sunday. This is mostly dictated by my work schedule . But I must say sometimes I plan it that way.

Perhaps because being on my own in an unfamiliar place on a day so dedicated to togetherness and having fun together do contrast my being alone much more than watching people hurrying to and from work on weekday.

This Sunday found me in London. It also found me wide awake at 6 am desperate for a decent cup of coffee and not the instant stuff available in my hotel room. I may be on the club floor but it's in name only this is a true budget hotel. Clean, great location and no frills.

I was much surprised to find all of the many coffee chains closed as my hotel was smack in the middle of the most touristy place of London just on the edge of Covent Garden.

I suspect you can live off insomniac tourists but need commuters or a large workforce to make opening at 6 am profitable. So I walked and walked and finally got on the first underground train of the day on the District Line that took me to Victoria Street Station and a wonderful cup of strong latte – I had an extra shot for my effort.

My intention had been to just dash out for the coffee and then return to my room and read a bit and savor the coffee, but I was wide awake and ready to go, when I got back so I got ready for the day.

My first chosen destination was Greenwich with it’s maritime and timekeeping traditions. I started off walking towards Bank and finally got on a bus just one stop before station. It’s such a confusing labyrinthic place and finding the Docklands Light Rail involved walking forever but I was finally on my way.

After a lovely walk around Greenwich I wandered down towards the pier and was lucky a regular clipper – sans comments in 12 languages – was ready to leave for Westminster and with my London Transport travel card I was even eligible for a discount.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been to London but I believe it was my first ever boat trip on the Themes. I must admit I’ve always been ambivalent about that particular body of water. It’s the most disgusting looking water I’ve ever seen – the Seine, the Hudson the Vlata through Prague, the Mainz, the Elbe all look a lot fresher and less abused. On the other hand it has that irresistible pull from the ocean with it’s enormous tidal fluctuation. I want to follow that river.

The ride was wonderful – the development of the Docklands suddenly makes sense from that angle – riding the DLR that seems to be routed like a rollercoaster does not do anything for that area.

I disembarked at Bankside and walked back towards Tower Bridge suddenly remembering that the Museum of Design was somewhere up there. A lovely walk along the river with hordes of people mad up as pirates coming the other way. Obviously part of some charity walk.

The Museum was a very nice almost Scandinavian modern building. They do not have a huge collection but I actually enjoy smaller museums more than those where you feel overwhelmed as you enter.

By now I was ready for lunch. I had looked at the places alongside the boardwalk but must of them was Italian or a confused blend of everything that was or had been trendy the last couple of years. I wanted a traditional meal.

Found it at Butler’s Wharf Chop House – part of the Conran group.

It was a simple room with nice wide planks on the floor, oak tables, leather benches and comfortable wooden chairs.

And there I found the tourists dream of the perfect English Sunday meal.

A huge, fresh gin and tonic for a starter, followed by six small but very tasty oysters and half a pint of Guinness before I had rare roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, roast potato, boiled cabbage and carrot served with a horseradish sauce and half a pint of bitter.

It was a lovely meal and just what I needed after all that walking. It was not the most tender beef I have ever had, and since I don’t know British cut’s of meat I couldn’t tell you what it was, but it was very tasty.

Walking back across Tower Bridge in the sunshine I was very happy with my outing.


Blogger RomeyDuck said...

Remember my wondering viking, ducks have a shorter stride but an excellent sense of direction. Walks will be at a slower pace but on a more direct route. *note to self- must find all early opening coffee shops before first trip* ;)

2:49 PM  
Blogger RomeyDuck said...

I came to play too!!

Really I did this for a link to your blog. I can never remember how to spell the damn thing!! LOL!

7:18 PM  
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