Thursday, June 3, 2010

More London

The next day I set out for more London sightseeing.  I wanted to see Victoria Embankment Gardens, a favorite hangout along the river, for me and most of London.  If the weather is even halfway decent, it seems that the gardens are full of people enjoying the blooms and taking in whatever sun is available. In the heart of London, along the banks of the Thames, this haven invites you to linger.

The old watergate was built in the 1620's, at the water's edge of the north bank of the river, as a gateway to the Duke of Buckingham's property, long before the embankment was created.

This marker tells a bit about it, and answered a question
for me about where the street from Embankment Station
tube stop, where the west entrance to the gardens is
located, got it's name.  The street is Villiers, and he
was the first Duke of Buckingham.

Villiers is also the street where Gordon's Wine Bar is located.  I have mentioned this wonderful place before, which is in a 300 year old cellar and sells, among other things, the finest sherry and port wines from the cask.  In the photo above Gail and I enjoyed a fine Old Wood Tawny Port in the cellar, several years ago.  And yes, I did drop in there later, but back to the garden now.

There are so many wonderful statues in the garden, in addition to all the colorful plantings.  I especially like the memorial to the men of the Imperial Camel Corps, the tribute to Sullivan (of Gilbert and Sullivan fame) and the statue of Robert Burns. Here is a link to the best information I have found online about the statues and the stories about them..

After I left the Embankment Gardens and had a nice glass of port at Gordon's,
I headed for Kensington High Street and Holland Park.

My favorite thing here might have been all the wisteria arbors,

   or the wild pig,    

or the great group of students I met and talked with
from Holland Park School.  It was a beautiful stroll.

Now I know that you think I don't do much in London besides eat and drink, but how can you
not visit and return to all the wonderful restaurants and pubs in the city?

This pub is called The Windsor Castle, and it is truly a delightful place to stop for a bit of pub fare, or a cool drink in their beer garden, drawn by a cute,
friendly bartender.

The pub dates back to 1835, way before the
city built up around it, when you could see Windsor Castle from the upper rooms.  Parts of it are constructed from old ships, the floors are uneven,
and you definitely have to watch your head.

The beer garden is a delightful cozy oasis in the summer, and
even in the winter with warming heaters and snuggling blankets.

I made one last stop on Kensington High Street, before heading back to my hotel.

Hotel Chocolat is a luxury chocolate retailer in London,
with an interesting business history, and a chocolate
plantation in St. Lucia.  You can read about them at
the following links, but better to taste them if you have
the chance. They have stores all over the UK, and two
stores in Boston.

I have to tell you about the elephants in London.  I started seeing them yesterday, and thought it would be fun to photograph them all as I saw them.
Then I found out that there were 250 of them!  It is all for a good cause, to save the African Elephants. They have been painted by many artists and will be auctioned off after they have been displayed about the city.  I am adding a link with info about them........ you could own one!..........and posting the photo I took of the one I think is my favorite, although I did really like the red one with the grass mohawk.

After I returned to Gloucester Road (Tube) Station, I was walking to my hotel when I saw a cab with this admonishment.  Good advice where ever you are in the world.

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