Christmas shopping in London

London is the best place in the world to avoid Christmas shopping! We spent 4 days there and I hardly had time to look for presents. We wanted to make up for our last trip to London, which was a bit of a disappointment. I was not taking any chances with the hotel so we booked ourselves in at the five-star The Churchill, based on its rate and rating it should have been a safe bet.

Since we were arriving on Thanksgiving, we took advantage of Le Café Anglais Thanksgiving menu and late night dining. The menu was fun and gave a nod to an American turkey dinner while maintaining its own integrity. Our wait staff was knowledgeable and French which is always welcome! It was a great way to ease into the big city with an informal dinner at a cozy restaurant tucked in top floor of Whitleys.

Black Friday we were off to the Science museum to check out their exhibition on Space and the IMAX show Hubble 3D about the mission to rescue the Hubble telescope. It was wonderful to see a replica of a space station and a full satellite launcher. Makes me wish I had not slept though all my science classes. We bought a day pass for the tube and I was struck by how easily I could move through the crowd. I lived in London for a year in the early 90’s and it seemed like I still understood the urban tempo. In Germany I am constantly being walked into, bumped into and doing ”the which way are you going”dance in shopping center and on streets. (Does anyone else experience this?) However, in London, I understood the flow of the traffic and everything was easy. No pushing or crowding just everyone adjusting to each other like the mighty sequoias, one big happy organism. We had the obligatory trip to Harrods and a musical. The 9-year running We Will Rock You was surprisingly funny, thanks to Scaramouche . The role of Galileo played by the understudy was good but maybe he was trying a bit hard. Regardless, I have hummed Queen since! Our hotel is in such a nice neighborhood that there was unfortunately no pub. We suffered through a pint at the hotel bar, which was peppered with aged men and wife number two, possibly three.

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Saturday we joined the throngs on Regent Street and Oxford Street but that was just on our way to Carnaby to find the charming little Lomography shop where we got terrific help picking out a camera and equipment! Then we were off to Liberty to soak up some old English atmosphere, buy some floral handkerchiefs, and sample some home-brewed perfumes. Finally, we got to the main event when I could finally get my hands on an iPad at the new store in Covent Garden. We spent hours there. The ambiance was wonderful, more like a library then a store. There were tables everywhere. Staff and customers sat, discussed, and demonstrated products. What a sharp contrast this was to anything that has to do with the PC. I made an appointment to have my iPod touch looked at and they could fit me in within 10 minutes. Great service and even though I do not have Apple Care – no charge. Very different experience than the ongoing issue I have with HP trying to get replacement screen for my laptop, but I digress. I love apple! After 10 hours of walking, we had two thoughts: dinner and sleep. Found a nice little restaurant around the corner from our hotel with lovely Indian food and very friendly staff.

Sunday morning we were up and off to Westbourne Grove to catch some breakfast and meet up for our treatments at the Gina Conway Aveda Spa and Salon where we spent the day until it was time to catch the train.

With London just an hour away with RyanAir Bremen route – we will be doing this again! Have more photos but with my new analog camera – bringing them in to get developed today!  I hope it worked!

Ten things you need to know about London!

  1. The ‘chub is THE best way to get around.
  2. The best “people watching” is on the ‘chub.
  3. London cabbies are the best in the world! So take a few cabs even if it is just around the corner.
  4. When walking, be sure to walk on the left side, they walk as they drive, do this and you will flow gracefully through any crowed street.
  5. You need to see a musical, but one per trip is enough.
  6. You need dinner reservations or you will end up eating at Burger King or in the restaurant basement.
  7. If you eat your full English breakfast at a Falafel shop, you will smell of falafel in the hours succeeding.
  8. If you eat your lunch at a pub, you will disguise the Falafel smell with fried fish and chips smell.
  9. If you eat your supper at an Indian restaurant, you will cover up your fish and chips smell with curry smell.
  10. If you then go into hotel elevator after these culinary experiences, people will hold their nose and look at you in such a way that you feel ashamed.

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