A Royal Fantasy

I’m really happy with the Frommer’s Day by Day guide because it breaks up cities in three ways:

  • day trips through a city
  • neighborhoods
  • alphabetical order

It’s really the best guide I looked at for those reasons, plus it has removable maps, fits in your pocket and breaks down each part of town into very good street maps. If you’ve ever traveled to a big walking city like London (or New York or Boston), you’ll understand why this is important.

Today’s journey was through Hyde Park, down past Buckingham Palace, up through the National Gallery and back to Soho for a day of writing. So far, so good.

Picture 002 I’m getting a bit better sense of Sussex Garden and Westminster W1 where I’m staying. I found my way down to Hyde Park, one of the biggest green areas just outside the city proper.

There were huge ponds and green areas near the Marlborough Gate where I entered. People were sprawled out across the lawns, reading and enjoying the beautiful day (it’s about 21 C here or in the low 70s F for my people).

That’s misleading, though, because the sun is out and the wind is light.

Picture 004 I stopped by the Peter Pan statue and the Princess Diana Memorial fountain, which is along the Serpentine, a grand pond where you can paddle boat or watch the ducks hang out.

On the northeast side of the water, there is a small “beach” and lawn chairs set up for people to sun. John told me that when the sun comes out in Europe, people flock outside because it happens so rarely.

Picture 022 Then I headed down Constitution Way towards Buckingham Palace and two things happened:

I accidentally showed up for the beginning of the changing of the guard, which began with a horse group riding in. I got a few pictures, which was more than enough for me once I was told the whole thing takes about an hour.

(I couldn’t help but think how awful that would be to do everyday. I love ritual. I do not understand inefficient ritual like that. I am glad it exists); and I swung past the place where yesterday’s birthday celebration took place. It looked like there were more festivities on the way.

I’m not a big one on sightseeing so I didn’t much stay anywhere for very long. Just a walk-by on my way to Soho.

The street maps came in handy, though, as I got completely turned around once I came up Charing Cross Road, one of the main drags in this area. There are side streets everywhere and they are most certainly not in a grid-like structure. I just wandered around (including a jaunt through Soho’s ChinaTown, which is really just ChinaAlley).

Picture 031 I swung by Nina’s work, the Soho Theater which is a cafe, bar and theater in one place. It wasn’t open (Sundays are a weird day for “open” at least in Soho), but I got to peak around. I’m making a tour of London businesses the next few days and that’s one of my stops.

What I learned about London street numbers: the numbers on the left of the street have no correlation to the numbers on the right side of the street. On Dean Street, where the theater is located, I numbers went up from 50 while on the left side they went down from 30.

I discovered this after turning around several times.

But I’m setting back in Bar Italia, watching a show on “The Best Music Video in the Universe”, listening to bikers from Scotland who are traveling around and writing. It’s shaping up to be a very good day.