Mom and I arrived in London on a rainy Sunday morning. We were the only two passengers on an airport hotel link shuttle and the driver patiently answered all Mom's questions. Mom was very excited to see London, her first trip to one of my favourite cities. I've been here 10 times now so it was my job to be her tour guide. It was chilly and wet but we gamely headed out anyway, once we'd checked in to the Strand Palace hotel. Our room was ready so we dropped our bags, put on something warm and headed out. Covent Garden is right behind the hotel so that's where we headed. London is quite busy this weekend because of the St. Patrick's Day festivities. There were crowds in Covent Garden market watching various busker acts including two dudes on unicycles. They were only dressed in tutu skirts, bare skin exposed to the cold air.
We walked over towards Trafalgar Square which was teeming with people after a parade. There was a stage set up for music acts though it must have been between performances when we got there. We looked around and people watched but then a near disaster hit. Mom slipped or missed a step and fell on the granite stairs down into the square. Luckily, no bones were broken and nothing concussed. She was quite shaken up and bruised, however. Talk about a heart stopping moment! We walked around a little bit and since we weren't far from the hotel, we walked back there, stopping off for hot tea to take with us. Back in the room, she took a hot shower and a painkiller and we napped and rested the rest of the evening.
On Monday, she wasn't too sore, mainly because of the painkiller but was quite bruised. Trooper that she is, we decided to head out anyway. We bought vouchers for the Big Bus from the concierge which we exchanged for tickets at the closest stop, just around the corner on Aldwych. Traffic was really bad though technically it was past rush hour. It took over a half hour for the tour bus to reach St. Paul's Cathedral. In comparison, it took us about 40 minutes to walk back from there later, and we weren't walking quickly, just strolling and stopping to take photos here and there.
St. Paul's cathedral is an awesome sight to see, with it's high ceilings all covered in gilded mosaics. The statues and memorials, many small chapels, graves and tombs in the crypt, they're all so interesting to examine. Years ago i climbed up the dome but we weren't up to that this time. Mom was very impressed. As i said, we walked back to the hotel to meet some friends that Mom and Dad had met a few years ago on holiday in Cuba. They'd kept in touch and made plans to meet up. We went to lunch in The Terrace in Lincoln's Inn Fields, a modern restaurant with really lovely surroundings. Food was good too!
From there, we parted ways. Mom and I made our way back to Aldwych, not very far from where we were. We passed The Old Curiosity Shop along the way, tucked around a corner from the square. It was open but we didn't go in. It looked a bit dark and dusty for us! We picked up another tour bus and sat the route around London. We went on the open top even though it was cold, for part of the way. There was a guide on board this bus and he was bright and cheeky and had lots to tell us about the sights. When we got to Hyde Park we had to change to another bus and then again on Marylebone Road. By that time we were too cold to sit up top and stayed in where it was warm, listening to recorded commentary. (see separate tip for more information on the Big Bus company)
By the time we were finished, we were ready for our beds but decided to pick up some sandwiches and snacks at the little Tescos across the road from the hotel rather than eat out in a restaurant. We had an early night to sleep off the rest of the jet lag.
Day three in London was our day trip to Brighton which you can read about in a separate journal entry.