Or so I was told... more on that later.
So, Julie and I wake up later than we planned. While we're getting ready, we get out the map and Frommer's guide to London and make plans. We'll take the tube up to Notting Hill Gate, walk over to the Portabello Road market, over to the Marble Arch and do whatever until the end of the day where we wanted to end up in Covent Gardens for dinner and night life.
As explained in my previous post, all tube lines were closed except for Piccadelly, which was the direction we wanted to go the day after and had loosely planned. We coulda done the bus system, sure, but we didn't want to. No problem, let's go to Piccadelly, Trafalgar Square, and Buckingham Palace.
Here I am at Piccadelly Circus:
Under the statue of Eros:
Okay, so I haven't been to London in 21 years, but this was NOT the Picadelly Circus I remembered! (I later came to realize that what I remembered was NOT Picadelly Circus). This part of London has been made famous by several films. Pretty much any movie that is takes place in London has a scene here, it reminds me of the central point of Times Square in NYC. After some souvenir shopping, we walked down the road towards Leicester Square. There was some kind of Fright attraction, seemed like a haunted house with actors, with people outside trying to get us to go in. We ended up talking to this cute bloke who looked a lot like Prince William... he was adorable, and oh so young, but we had to keep talking to him. He asked where we were from, and after telling him Salt Lake City, he asked us if that was in Canada. D'oh! So much for my ethnocentrism! We told him that we were there for the U2 concert, and he got all excited saying that he was going to go too, but his buddies backed out and now he has to go alone, and wanted to go with us. Awwww, he was cute... but no. We took his brochure for the Fright attraction, and continued on.
Leicester Square is the Theater District, or London's version of Hollywood. There a gorgeous park in the middle, and surrounded by several theaters that premier new films.
Further down the road we go, and ultimately end up in Trafalgar Square. A-HA! THIS is what I thought was Piccadelly Circus 21 years ago. It's such a huge place, it seems much more like a circus than Piccadelly Circus does! (Uh, yeah.... so the "Circus" part of the name refers to the circle that surrounds. The things you learn when you get old...)
Awesome view from Tafalgar Square:
The Admirality Arch:
This is where the Royalty enters The Mall. The middle gate opens only for the Queen.
It didn't open for me. Fer rude!
Approaching Buckingham Palace:
I *DESPISE* this picture of me, but it is the best picture I have of the Palace.
After walking the grounds around the palace, we realized we had been walking all day and hadn't eaten a thing and we were starving, and oh so thirsty! The original Hard Rock Cafe is not too far from here, and I've been there the other two times I've gone to London, so let's go!
The original Hard Rock Cafe, in the same location for 38 years:
I had to get a picture of the John Lennon duds:
Julie and I inside:
I sat at this exact same booth with my dad, back in 1987:
The ladies thought I was weird and wondering WTH I would be taking their pictures for.
The waitress at the HRC spent some time talking to us, and she summed the vibe of London up perfectly: London is a place where anything goes. Everyone is welcome, everyone is accepted. No one cares who you are or what you wear, just enjoy the city and all that it has to offer. At St. James Park by Buckingham Palace there was an opera singer in a pavilion, and people brought chairs and blankets and they were all lying around talking, reading, listening to the singer, playing with their kids, walking their dogs, riding their bikes, relaxing... that spot is the epitome of London, and if there IS a heaven, this is what I want it to be like.
After eating at the Hard Rock Cafe, we went across the street to the Hard Rock shop. It was full and so we had to wait behind the velvet rope in the "VIP Line" outside. We were talking to the "Bouncer", who asked us where we were from. At this point it's apparently clear that our accents are in no way British... not that we tried. After we told him he said, "How do you like London?" I replied "I LOVE London!"
"London loves YOU." he said, smiling and full of sincerity.