Monday, April 25, 2011

England, the final day!

I never expected 6 days in London to take this long and be this fun to recap!  This is the last one :)

Tuesday was going to be a shopping day!  We practically jumped out of bed, excited for our day.  We headed back down to Oxford Street in search of Liberty, one of my all time favorite places in London.  While I loved wandering through with Andrew earlier in my visit, shopping with Emily would be completely different.  Right as we were approaching the cross street to turn on, we both spotted it: Banana Republic.  I knew it was down there as we'd walked by it on Thursday.  Emily can't get Banana clothes over there, and they have recently opened the store.  So in we marched.  It was huge.  Enormous.  Two or three times bigger than the ones here, easily.  We both ended up getting a cute dress - the same one :)

Then we headed to Liberty.  Arthur Liberty opened the store in 1875, originally selling ornaments, fabric, and objets d'art from Japan and the East, in a little tiny storefront on Regent Street.  Next he added furnishings and carpet before costumes came in 1884.  In 1924, the famous iconic store where Liberty is today was constructed.  It was made from the wood and timber of 2 HMS ships.  The store was designed with 3 light wells as the focus, as Mr. Liberty wanted people to feel as they were walking around their own homes in his shop.    

We were meeting Andrew for coffee at noon, so had some time before he got there to poke around.  The store is just beautiful - the scarves, the furniture, china, home, and clothing sections are all equally interesting.  We got through about 2 floors before we headed out to meet Andrew.  It was great fun to for he and Emily to meet!  We spent an hour talking about his recent trip to DisneyLand Paris and his upcoming Boston trip, among other things.  They were able to explain where they lived to each other, something I had horribly messed up on both sides.  

After big hugs saying goodbye, we went right back into Liberty.  We spent another hour to so shopping, and each bought a few things.  I got this really neat platter - I have a thing for platters :)

My photograph doesn't really do this's really pretty and different :)  It's antique spoons.  

Anyway.  After leaving Liberty, we decided we hadn't looked at enough expensive stuff, so we went to Old Bond Street.  Harry Winston, Cartier, Chanel, Mikimoto, Tiffany's, stores I didn't even recognize because they were so fancy...

We wandered around here for a while...until we were intimidated enough by the big mean looking security guards inside the stores...we hopped on the tube and headed up to Knighsbridge to Harrods!  According to Wikipedia, "The store occupies a 5-acre (20,000 m2) site and has over one million square feet (90,000 m2) of selling space in over 330 departments." Isn't that crazy!  That's huge!  Charles Henry Harrod opened his first store in 1824 at the age of 24.  He opened a few other stores, including a grocery, before opening a single room store on the current site in 1851, employing 2 assistants and a messenger boy. The store burnt down in 1883 and after rebuilding, opened England's first 'moving staircase' (escalator) in 1893.  The present building was completed in 1905.  Today, more than 5,000 employees from 50 different countries work there.   

We went straight to the top floor and the home goods...see a theme?  We looked around the gifts, kitchen things, and all areas that were home.  Then, getting a little tired, we went back to the first floor and the food arcades.  They are just amazing - one after another of beautiful cheeses, chocolates, meats, and everything you could want.  We realized we hadn't eaten anything since breakfast, and were both feeling quite tired by 4pm.  We walked outside and went into the first pub we spotted on Sloane Street - see below.

After a delicious meal and a couple of pints, we were plotting the remainder of our afternoon before grabbing the train back to Colchester.  We realized we hadn't done anything too touristy, besides walking by the Palace.  So, we gathered our things and headed towards the Westminster tube station...

After snapping a few photos of the beautiful Big Ben and Parliament, we walked up the famous Whitehall street to Trafalgar Square.  

The name Trafalgar comes from a battle in 1805, a British naval victory in the Napoleonic wars.  Charing Cross, where Strand meets Whitehall, is considered the very center of the city.  

This is the countdown clock for the 2012 Olympics! 

I have always loved Trafalgar Square and the lions, plus the beautiful view back towards Big Ben.  It was such a great spot to finish our time downtown!  Now, off to Colchester we go...

Once back at home, we had a delicious and healthy tasty dinner of fish and chips from their local fish and chips place.  It was like a well rehearsed production to watch them unwrap everything, get it onto plates, get the sauces out, pour the drinks, and get settled into eat.  Apparently, fish and chips is a Friday evening 'tradition' at their house, and quite a treat for a Tuesday!  Once we were all stuffed, we Facetime'd with husband one more time, got packed up, and hit the sack.  A long ride to Heathrow in the morning was in store.

I had the best time visiting my dear college friend and her husband.  It was so nice to see her house, where they lived, the beautiful English countryside and spend some time in one of my favorite cities.  I hope it's not as long before I get to travel back across the pond!

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