London, Part II

This is a continuation of my last post, highlighting some of my favorite places/experiences in London.

1. Natural History Museum

I can’t emphasize enough how much I love a good science museum, and this is objectively one of the best natural history museums in the world. The actual architecture of the building is beautifully intricate, with details like ceiling panels covered in illustrations of plants, and carved monkeys that seem to be climbing the arches of the Central Hall. My favorite exhibit was Treasures, comprised of objects with special stories, such as original images from Audubon’s Birds of America, a first edition of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, and a moon rock gifted to the UK by President Nixon. Another must-see is “Hope,” the suspended blue whale skeleton.

2. Notting Hill

We wandered through Notting Hill admiring the pastel buildings, and we had lunch at the Cock & Bottle, a traditional corner pub. We ordered fish and chips, and I tried their in-house hard cider (would recommend). Embarrassingly, I used to be a huge Hugh Grant fan, so I also made it a point to visit two of the filming locations from Notting Hill: 280 Westbourne Park Road, which is the blue front door to character William Thacker’s flat, and 142 Portobello Road, the travel bookshop, which is actually a trinket shop. Thirteen-year-old Sam would have been especially stoked at this part of the trip.

3. Kensington Gardens

Kensington Gardens is said to have provided author J. M. Barrie the inspiration for Peter Pan, and he often wrote in the park. Today, the park is home to a bronze Peter Pan sculpture. Near the sculpture, in the bushes and trees, waits a population of bright green parakeets. We noticed some people brought pieces of fruit to attract the birds, but they landed on us even without the proffered snack. Some of the birds began to get feisty and tried to peck us, but most contentedly perched on our shoulders and backpacks.

4. Harrod’s

Unlike anything I have seen in the United States, Harrod’s is a luxury department store that is overwhelmingly massive. We primarily explored the food halls, ogling the confections and cakes. We also rode the Egyptian Elevator, and visited the gift shop on the second floor, where I bought tins of English Cream Toffee. Interestingly, Harrod’s also has a lululemon “shop-in-shop” within the building.

5. Mr Fogg’s Gin Parlour

Part of a collection of professed adventurous bars, this one in particular feels like a Victorian living room. It had intricate wallpaper, floral couches and armchairs, and it was filled with treasures seemingly from the 1800s. A reservation is highly recommended, and that holds the table for a two-hour time slot. There is a long gin list, but we ordered specialty cocktails from “Aunt Gerturde’s Notebook.” The drinks were outstanding, the service was excellent, and it really felt like a wholly unique experience.

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