16 May 2015

London Revisited by AteTinTin

2/17

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It may still be technically breakfast, but I've been up all night. For some reason I just was not tired enough to sleep. So here I am eating an early early lunch of a falafel salad bowl with homemade hummus and four different types of falafel: Apple, sun dried tomato, kalmata olive, and original. They were all so good! This is exactly what I needed to start my trip here: an outdoor market allowing me to sit outside and people watch until my Houses of Parliament tour.

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So I won't lie, one of the reasons why I wanted to stay at the Draycott is for the little stuffed bear that comes on every bed. I mean look at how cute he is! I was hoping that I would get to keep one if I stayed here, but that is not the case. I was thinking about buying one, but it was way TOO EXPENSIVE. Oh well, I'll just have to settle for a picture of them.

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As per usual, my quest for a great cup of coffee extends even to my work trips. Staying in Chelsea gives me great access to the cool hipster coffeehouses of the area. I read about this coffeehouse in American Londoners blog about the area. This cafe is located a bit off the beaten path in a neighborhood that you would not think there were a lot of cafes, but there are couple cute places on this street. Tomtom Coffee House is really nice but very small and very busy. I did get a seat but the waiter never came to see me. After 10 minutes of waiting, I figured it was best that I do take away. The manager felt so bad he gave me a free cup of Americano. It was pretty good, but does not really stand out as the best I've ever had. The atmosphere of the cafe was nice and it made me wish I had time to do a full meal here, but that would have to be another time.

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So when I signed up to stay at the Draycott, I knew it would be nice. I would have never dreamed it would be THIS nice. I am in the Ellen Terry Room which is a small single. The room is done in these riches color that just make you think old world. It's gorgeous. I am so glad I got to stay here. They have such nice things and they even have free alcohol all day, tea at 4 pm, and hot chocolate at night. The closest place to this is the historical hotel I stayed at in Philadelphia. However that lace does not even come close. At the Darycitt it's about the personal touches, like the teddy bear in the room and personalized note with homemade shortbread.

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It has taken 11 years for me to finally see the inside of the Houses of Parliament. I felt like this trip to London would be the perfect time to visit because I had some time the day I arrived. I figured it would be a good way to get me into the city center and allow me time to also go to Waterloo to pick up the rail tickets for the kiddos.

When I got inside I realized that jet lag had really hit me. I was sore and tired from the plane ride but I was trying to soldier through. Both houses were smaller than I thought they would be, but the history and the tradition of each chamber was really interesting. It was so cool to see something that I had seen so many times before. I am glad to finally see it from the inside.

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Before I came over I read about a show celebrating the 53rd Anniversary of Alice in Wonderland. It is an interactive play that takes place in the Waterloo Vaults. Since I needed to pick up the rail tickets for the program, I figured I'd kill two birds with one stone by going directly to the Vaults to see if they have any general tickets.

It took me a while to find this place because the info desk at Waterloo Station didn't seem to know. I wandered out the exit and walked down to this store called "The House of Vans." The people in there seemed to know what I was looking for and pointed me in the right direction. Thank God. Not only did I find it, but I was also able to get tickets! Woo hoo!

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One of the reasons why I wanted to stay at the Draycott was the afternoon tea that came with the stay. I didn't want to do something too elaborate, like the Ritz, but I wanted that experience. It was cool and the common area they have for the guests is perfect. The sat and ate some cookies and then stared at the shared garden what a sight to see.

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Chelsea is an amazing neighborhood of London. It's hard not to fall in love with London when Chelsea is where you are staying. As you can tell, this part of London is ridiculously rich and privileged borough. The architecture is impeccable and the stores are almost all high end goods. I knew that it was affluent, but you don't really understand how affluent until you see the Range Rovers, BMWs, and Teslas that drive the streets. I did not see a cheap vehicle in this area the entire time. I wish I had more time here, but alas work has brought me to London and this girl has got to work tomorrow.

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In the time since I was in London, cycling has become a more important part of transportation. The system is pretty good and really affordable. It is £2 for the entire day, but you have to return the bike every 30 minutes to another station. This proved to be the most difficult part of the system, but not too bad. I figured Chelsea would be the best place to try them out because it's small and I knew that there was a station at Battersea Park. I'm a bit nervous with traffic, but let's see how this goes.

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After eating dinner, I didn't want to waste my one and only night in Chelsea. So I decided to do the London Rent-A-Bike and navigate the streets of Chelsea to see Battersea Park and other parts of Chelsea. The park was really beautiful because it sat along the Thames and the sun illuminated the Chelsea Bridge and Temple perfectly. I wish I could have stayed longer but I wanted to make sure that I got the bike back in time. This is a drawback with this system.mi will admit that the ride was a bit nerve racking because I didn't really know where I was going. I probably looked a bit foolish to people driving. Who cares though?! I had a fun time and had a cool experience.