Travel

Riding the Rails to the Palace

Wednesday was a gap day for non-Potterheads, such as myself and classmate Ruth, so we decided to ride the rails down to London for the day.  For Americans unused to a system of high-speed, efficient rail, we were duly impressed, both with the train and the beautiful, rolling landscape that stretches out between Grantham and the capital.

An obstacle still lay before us, however…navigating the Tube.  All went surprisingly well for the most part, minus Ruth being blocked at every turnstile.  Turns out the magnetic strips on rail cards frequently go awry, especially if held next to phones or the such like.  But rather than grumpy, irate employees, there was someone friendly at every station to her through without question. (Hospitality, check. Security…)

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After getting out at Victoria Station, we decided to hit up The Guards Museum. What a gem!

It was quiet when we got there and, after seeing that we were Americans, the kind, elderly gentleman behind the counter took us aside and gave us much more extremely interesting and valuable information besides what was offered in the introductory film.

The museum itself was full of treasures that one could have easily missed otherwise, including documents signed by monarchs going back to Charles II, beautiful medals (seriously, so many medals!), not to mention swords, guns, uniforms, portraits, diaries, flags, even a scarf and pair of mittens knitted by Queen Victoria for the soldiers in the Crimean War!

Once we dragged ourselves away from the Guards Museum, we made our to Buckingham Palace, where we commemorated our good fortune with lots of photos/selfies and a long visit in the palace gift shop.

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Another highlight of the day was, when we were at our most weary and footsore, we happened upon the lovely bbar.  African safari-themed, this ritzy burger joint ended up being a Godsend for us.

The food and atmosphere were equally amazing, with the helpful and attentive staff seating us in the back, far away from the bustle of the London streets.  I had salmon and rice with cheesecake for dessert, while Ruth enjoyed the mother of all cheeseburgers followed by the loveliest of ice creams.

I feel here though, that at least a paragraph needs to be devoted to my tea.  Yes, the “Summer Love” at bbar is served in a clear mug with an herbal “nut” of sorts balanced on the provided spoon.  This is then dropped into the steaming water where it absorbs that moisture and transforms into a beautiful blossom.

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I’m interested to know if anyone else has come across this phenomenon.  In my limited experience, it is unique and magical.

When we could finally tear ourselves away from the restaurant, we, like experienced Londoners, crossed the streets at all the wrong times, hopped the Tube back to Kings Cross, and ended up just in time to dash across the platform to catch one of the last trains to Grantham.

London, you were beautiful, and I can’t wait to go back!

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