Time for a report on our first hours here in London.
Our American Airlines airplane had d fuel leak in the engine. Thankfully this was noticed while still at the gate, but they let us board and sit for 2 hours before moving us to a dusty little concourse, causing another pass through security and two more hours of sitting. Our 18:15 flight finally departed at 23:00.
So it was lunchtime on Saturday by the time we got to our hotel. The Crowne Plaza St. James is gorgeous, consisting of 8 original buildings that make up an entire block and were clearly architected together to create a lovely courtyard. The rooms are spacious, with generous bathrooms, heated towel racks, and the like. We immediately set out for lunch, and settled on a Cafe Rouge outside Harrods.
A few first impressions:
Thoughtful design is much more pervasive than in the states. Signage is clear and attractive, architecture is consistently aesthetic, and the built environment is human-scaled (including cars).
No one wears hats.
Smokers may be a majority, and it is certainly not shunned; non-smoking areas are hard to come by.
English food may be bad, but most places serve continental fare so who can tell?
Harrods is a museum of commerce. The little shops along Brompton nearby feel much more authentic, but really carry the same goods.
We returned to the hotel and walked up to see Buckingham Palace at night, and strolled the Queen's Walk through Green Park to walk along Picadilly, marveling at the beautiful people and their shops. We selected a century-old restaurant named Richoux which had the great food and horrifically slow service the age and name of the institution might have led us to expect.