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Find Excitement in London

Published in the Battle Creek Enquirer  3/4/2012

This summer, London will welcome millions of people for 19 days to the 2012 Olympic games. This winter, it welcomed me for two days! As Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) famously said  “…When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”

The hardest thing about visiting London is deciding what to do. Home base was The Rubens at the Palace. It’s a lovely gem of a hotel, tucked away on a side street. After a long overnight flight, the oh-so-comfortable king sized bed was a welcome respite. With jet lag, only a hot bath will do. A quick soak in a lovely tub washed away tiredness. The promise of a spicy curry before the theatre was motivation to leave my restful room.

While most Brits consider roast beef with Yorkshire pudding their “national” dish, Indian curry finds its way to most top ten lists of favorite British foods and is among the best outside of India. I picked Mela because it was highly rated, close to the theatre district and offered a two for one entrée and appetizer deal. The chicken tandoori was exceptional. The theatre was a short walk away in London’s West End.

Our destination was the historic Lyceum theatre, where the Lion King has been delighting audiences for 13 years. The classic theatre with its two-story grand portico has been at this location since 1765. The Ling King is a spectacular musical, filled with incredible costumes and sets. With jet lag, I only dozed off once, but was brought back to the plains of Serengeti with a loud crash.

Breakfast at the hotel was a huge buffet of both hot and cold foods. I enjoyed a classic full British breakfast starting with fresh squeezed orange juice and hot Earl Grey tea. My plate was crowded with scrambled eggs, beans, fried tomatoes, mushrooms and sausage or bacon. A rack of toast with butter and marmalade completed my feast. That’s a meal that lasts all the way to teatime. Make sure you get the bed and breakfast package at the Rubens— it’s worth every quid.

The helpful staff at the hotel guided us to the Big Bus, a fixed route, hop on, hop off double decker bus with your choice of a live guide or a recorded one available in eight languages. Our one-day ticket was good for two days this winter and was worth every bit of the $41 (U.S. equivalent) price. We jumped on to visit the Tower of London. It’s a must see stop, with its 900 years of fear and imprisonment. “The Tower” is actually a collection of towers where some very famous people like Lady Jane Grey were imprisoned and put to death. It’s also where they also keep the glittering Crown jewels.

No trip to London would be complete without a trip to Harrods. The seven-floor store is daunting, covering some 4.5 acres, even for the most experienced shopaholic. The Food Halls are heaven for anyone who loves to eat. We went directly to the Georgian Restaurant for a full cream high tea to gather our strength. We ordered two teas for two people when one would have been enough, and at $46 per person, that would have been a good idea! I couldn’t leave one crumb of the light and puffy scones, a classic teatime food served with thick, gooey clotted cream. After tea, we could only waddle slowly through the store.

To exciting and expensive London, pip, pip, cheerio and all that rot!

If you go:

The Rubens at The Palace


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