Today was beautiful, less windy but still chilly enough I wore my sweater on & off today. I convinced Ben that we should at least see Portobello Road Market, famous in Notting Hill, since our hotel was so close. I bought two sixpence, on the hope that someday I will actually find someone to marry me so I'll have an English sixpence for my shoe. When I jokingly mentioned why, the lady I bought them from said she's heard that before from other Americans about the bride's rhyme, but that's never been a tradition in England. We did some more strolling around, since if I found a cool rustic ladle I would have bought it, let alone if I found a real cauldron, I would have paid to ship it back! Ben ended up buying a 50-year-old book in excellent condition for only £5 called "Wireless World" - haha! What a cool souvenir!
Portobello Road Market
We dropped his book off at the hotel, then continued to St Paul's Cathedral, where we got in successfully today, and we were even approached by a very nice volunteer staff older man who told us all sorts of interesting things, included how the entire inside of the cathedral was just cleaned in 2001 or so. Then we decided to tackle all 500+ steps to the top of the cathedral dome where you can see spectacular views of London all around outside - amazing, and what a beautiful day for it! :)
Britta at the top of St Paul's Cathedral
Back inside, we marveled at all the gold mosaics and paintings in the cupolas, tried to figure out where the organist sits for the pipe organ (we found the door that said "organista" but couldn't ever see the stops or keyboard, just the pipes), then went down to the crypts for the rest. That was a good 3 hours, so we were ready for lunch, so we stopped down the street at Ossia Cafe for a quick bite.
Back on our way, Ben decided we should try for the HMS Belfast so he could see a WWII battleship, then we'd stroll along the Mayor of London's Thames Festival that was only this weekend. On the way to the Belfast we saw the Britain at War Experience, which was also included on our London Pass, so we went in. It was interesting, but neither of us would have paid the full £8.50 admission without already having the London Pass.
We reached the HMS Belfast around 4:30, leaving us until 6pm to finish, and I think we did see everything. I'm not the huge fan of maritime stuff, especially 20th century onward, but I had dragged Ben to Portobello Road, so I went along. It was interesting to see, and the big bonus was that when we were finished, we had a spectacular up-close view of the yacht race of all the rowers down the Thames! The officials had to kick us out since we were still trying to take photos & video as long as we could... ;)
Off to the Thames Festival. Basically a street fair like plenty in the USA, but there was some fun music, and we stayed long enough strolling that we saw Westminster Bridge, Big Ben & Parliament at sunset and into the fading light of the evening, which was a nice goodbye to Central London...bye bye Big Ben!
Bye Bye Big Ben!
Back on the tube to Notting Hill Gate station for a couple pints plus food at the Windsor Castle Pub so I could have my final pint (or two or three!) of Addlestones. We found a table out in the beer garden for the first time this week, had our dinner and another last drink so I closed out my tab, then when Ben made a pit stop, one of the guys at the next table over started a conversation with me. When his friend and Ben came back it continued until I needed to make a pit stop of my own, when I came back to the guys "forcing" Ben to have another pint, their treat, so I was enlisted to help carry all 4 pints back to the table. William and Hugh were practically babies (only 19 Ben had found out when I was gone - my age never came up in conversation!), but that was entertaining conversation until the pub was forced to kick us out along with everyone else around 11:30pm...still early in my opinion! Hugh said he apologized personally for the early closing time...haha...but the pub was nice enough to pour our leftovers into disposable cups to take with us, so Ben & I starting walking back to our hotel, saying our goodbyes to Will & Hugh. I'm still sipping the last of my Addlestones as I type this...heh! :-9
Virgin Atlantic says no DIY checkin allowed at this time for our 11am flight, so we'll try again in the morning...then we're hopefully taking a cab to the nearest Piccadilly Line stop, then the Heathrow Express to check in...then 11 hours later we'll be home! :)