Sunday, September 17, 2006

Our Vacation: Days Seven and Eight

Day Seven was Tuesday, and this was the last day our travelcards and passes would be valid. (Next time we go, we'll have to get a seven-day pass.) To make the most of them, we decided to visit Kew Gardens. First we ran a couple errands at the bank and post office, then we took the Underground to Kew Gardens, which was close to the outskirts of London. Once there, the slogan "Mind the Gap" quickly became "Mind the Crap" -- the crap from the waterfowl, that is. Some of the birds were kinds we weren't familar with, so we took pictures of them.

Kew Gardens is huge, so we barely scratched the surface. We toured three of the greenhouses, but we didn't go inside the palace or the pagoda. We examined one of the oldest trees in the garden, watched black sheep graze, and strolled through a Japanese garden. And, of course, we took pictures of Oscar and stopped to smell the roses. We encountered some light rain at one point, but for the most part--indeed, for the whole trip--the weather was pretty good.

We spent most of the day in the gardens, but we left mid-afternoon to have a proper English tea. The teahouse we found was a bakery/cottage; I'm not sure if the building itself was from King Henry VIII's time, but one of their receipes was. The inside was cozy; it felt like someone's living room with the decor and the fireplace. I didn't take a picture inside because it seemed too "touristy," but I did take one of the outside.

The tea consisted of a pot of tea (we chose peppermint), along with four scones, clotted cream, and jam. As if that wasn't enough, we also were able to pick two additional pastries after we finished the scones. It hit the spot; I wouldn't mind importing this custom back to the States. I don't think my waistline would appreciate eating like that every day, though!

After tea, we rode back to Oxford Street and looked for gifts. Nothing caught our eyes, but we did find an Internet place where we could clear our spam. Afterwards, we had dinner at an Italian place. We had a two-course meal of salad and pizza; the individual pizzas were at least 9 inches across and too much for us to finish, especially since we needed to leave room for dessert.

Wednesday, September 13, was the last day we had for going around. (Hard to believe our vacation flew by so quickly.) We started the day at the British Museum. The highlight here, IMO, was the Rosetta Stone, which was one of the first exhibits we saw. There were also lots of Egyptian and Roman artifacts. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera, but Eugene took plenty of pictures.

We left in the early afternoon. I'd had my eye on a Scottish shop with cashmere sweaters, so we stopped there. Eugene finally found some presents for his family, and I picked up a scarf for my mother and a couple of things for myself. Afterwards, we had tea again at a nearby hotel. This tea was even grander than the one we'd had yesterday. In addition to tea and scones, we also had sandwiches and chocolate cake. When we were done, we strolled around for a while, making it down to the Courts of Justice. Close by was the Knights of Templar church, and we strolled around their grounds until we found it. We couldn't go inside as there was work being done on it. We arrived too late to get tea directly from the Twinnings store, so when my coworker goes to England next month, I'll have to ask him to buy me some breakfast tea.

Our last dinner in England was at the same restaurant we'd had our first lunch at. This time, instead of the regular fish'n'chips, I had trout. Then, wishing we could stay longer, it was time to pack and prepare for the trip back.

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