editor's note: each day of my trip, i'll post in a few consistent categories, as well as make the post title a link to a photo album.
overview: i made it to london on a plane that actually arrived early! made it to my hotel where my room was ready so i unpacked, took a quick shower, and headed out for my first adventures: kensington palace, kensington gardens, & high street kensington, where i checked out a few shops and ended up at harrod's.
sights & observations: on the walk to the palace it started drizzling and i opened my umbrella. i was the only one who did. apparently, londoners don't find a bit of drizzle enough of a reason to use theirs. in the palace, it's a little daunting to realize that despite how much of it you see, there's so much more you don't--apartments that are still in use by the royal family. there were two exhibitions in addition to the tour of the state apartments. one was the last of the debs, about the last group of debs to be presented to the queen in 1958-lots of fabulous vintage dresses that i took a few photos of. the other exhibition was of some of the more notable dresses that belonged to princess diana. they were gorgeous but it seemed a little sad. the funny thing at the palace was the kid i nicknamed in my head "balkan urkel". he was about 4 feet tall, probably 8 or 9 with blonde hair that didn't seem to have ever met a comb. he was wearing cordorouy cargo pants held up by white suspenders over a red shirt that was tucked in. the pants were high-waisted and about 4 inches to short. he was a coltish kid who was totally clumsy. it was apparent he'd had a growth spurt he hadn't grown into yet. "balkan urkel" would bolt through the state apartments, invariably tripping over something or bumping into something. i have no idea how his parents stayed calm. i was nervous watching him that he'd manage to hurt either himself or something priceless.
wandering through the gardens after leaving the palace, i saw a guy old enough to be my dad teaching a guy my age the finer points of speed skating on roller blades. and a group of boys playing king of the mountain on the marble or granite borders of the steps leading up to the albert memorial. between them they spoke 3 different languages-a fact that wasn't apparent til their parents came to claim them and tell them it was time to go. you never would have guessed they didn't know each other from their laughter and play. it was entertaining to watch, especially since the smallest boy was really ruling the 'mountain'!
food: i love to cook & eat and as i have friends who love to cook and eat, this will be a daily feature. so, for lunch, i stopped at a shop around the corner from the hotel called pret a manger. so yummy. it's fresh, no preservatives, and healthy. i had an egg salad and bacon sandwich. why i haven't i ever thot before to add bacon to egg salad sandwiches? i love both. it was also interesting to see a few unfamiliar things including a wild crayfish & rocket sandwich. i have no idea what it is, but i'm tempted to try it just for the adventure.
then there was the food halls at harrods. really, harrods deserves its own post. but as a teaser the food halls are amazing. i'm thinking i'll go back there today & try and get some pix. it's almost overwhelming the amount and diversity of choices there. including in the chocolates. i picked out a few to try. a champagne truffle, which was amazing. and a vodka truffle, which was unbelievably yummy. i still have a few more to sample. and finally for dinner, i found a noodle shop not far from the hotel where i got a shrimp wonton and a bbq type chicken & noodle takeaway. i posted photos of these to the link above. both were good, but the shrimp wontons were a total surprise and my favorite of the two. instead of being like the wontons we have in the states, shrimp or crab mashed up with cream cheese; these were whole, tailess shrimp, wrapped in one end of the wonton and flash fried. they were fresh, yummy, light and crisp--no grease at all. they coud become a favorite snack.
misc. on the underground on the way back from harrod's i noticed a totally cute guy. i was watching him surreptitiously, when he totally stuck his finger up his nose, and then put that same finger in his mouth. i was so surprised i gasped aloud and then nearly burst into a fit of giggles. i was relieved we arrived at my station just a moment later. the other little oddity is that i kept getting stopped and asked for directions. it happened at least 4 or 5 times yesterday. i was actually able to help 3 times which just entertained me. and everyone who asked was surprised by my accent. it seemed they didn't expect me to be american.
today: plan on visiting st. paul's cathedral, then over to the picadilly circus area for trips to waterstone's and fortnum & mason. tonite, i'm going to the national gallery since it's open late.