Day one of the Magical History Tour down and out. Arrived at Heathrow 20 minutes early (+/-) and proceeded into the city via the Heathrow Express to Paddington– the only way to travel. A little bummed they weren’t showing clips of BBC News like they usually do. Still, knitted away and the trip was over before I knew it. That’s the magic of express trains.
Found the hotel after much running about– obviously I hadn’t planned well enough in terms of actually mapping the hotel before our arrival and actually bringing the map with us. Imagine. We probably should have just paid for the cab, but after watching Sherlock Episode 1, it sort of makes you think twice about who’s driving you around London. After hefting our bags around for blocks and blocks, backtracking and everything else, we were sore and sweaty (and tired from the redeye!), but fortunately our room was ready when we finally DID find the hotel, so we could go up to the room and relax a little. Joe napped, I showered, and we both got a kick out of watching Top Gear before heading out in search of pasties.
Unfortunately, our pasty mission was a failure. My go-to pasty spot in Covent Garden has apparently closed and been replaced with something or other, so we wandered aimlessly for a few blocks before finally acknowledging that pasties were unlikely to happen. At least for that night. The pasty mission will begin anew on day two. Wholemeal vegetable pasty, here I come!
We ended up getting dinner at the Crusty Pipe Wine bar/restaurant in Covent Garden. It was a little expensive (tourist markup, I suspect), but we dined inside the restaurant in a dark little cove (not outside among the street performers), which was very charming. From there, we started hitting our usual haunts in Soho, my favorite place, starting at the punkrock classic, The Ship.
Awkward: Asked for two pints of cider, holding up two fingers to back up the audio since it was so loud. “Two pints of cider please,” says I, holding up two fingers. “Two?” says the guy, smirking and holding up two fingers in return. “Yeah, two.” Only afterwards did I realize I made the classic mistake of giving him “the two fingers” by holding up two fingers with my palm facing me. Whoops. Fortunately, at a punkish place like The Ship, that’s hardly an offense, especially if you have an American accent. (Given that its patrons commonly refer to one another as c**ts and tw**s, the two fingers from an American girl is hardly a crime.)
After The Ship, we navigated the streets of Soho to Garlic and Shots, downed a bloodshot each and continued on to The Intrepid Fox. I’m pleased to report that when they first moved to their location on St Giles High Street from their old home on Wardour Street (now the home of “Byron Hamburgers at the Intrepid Fox”– offensively shiny and bright compared to the darkness of its former life), it seemed a bit contrived, like they were trying too hard to replicate the atmosphere of the old Fox. Now, however, it seems to have settled in and feels much more natural, although the clientele seems to have shifted more towards a younger set– or maybe I just feel like that because I’m nearly a decade older than I was when it was my local. Still, very enjoyable time, just hanging out, listening to music and people watching.
And then homeward. Found the hotel without a hitch this time, and just settled in for a solid night of sleep after the spotty napping on the plane ride here.
It’s technically already tomorrow here, but it’s time for a few more hours of rest before getting up and embarking on Day Two.
More to follow, hopefully with pictures.