London, Day 4: Jubilation! in the p.m.

Miss a post, or want to read from the beginning? Click here.

After the hub-bub died down in front of St. Paul’s, I walked in the other direction to get a better view of the church. Pretty soon I found myself on Fleet Street, but was lost and turned around. After the late revelry of the night before, I was hoping to find a Tube station that would whisk me back to my hotel, and specifically my bed. But the innumerable barricades along the streets prevented me from navigating in the direction I thought I should be going.

As I stood there confused, I noticed a significant amount of people still lining the barricades expectantly. I walked over to lean against one and look at my map, just as someone asked a police officer, “What time will they be coming by?”

My ears perked.
Keep reading »

London, Day 4: Jubilation! in the a.m.

Miss a post, or want to read from the beginning? Click here.

I figured this would be the hardest post to write, and probably also to read. To write, because I may have to explain why I get so teeny-bopper excited over the British royal family, and I have no justification. To read, because most of you aren’t going to care one whit. So, I’ll give you an out — there is lots of mooning and fawning over royals to come, so I’m not offended if you need to cut out. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. (Har, har, har.)

As Day 4 dawned, I woke early and tubed over St. Paul’s Cathedral, site of the morning Diamond Jubilee Thanksgiving service, which was to begin at 10:30 a.m. Most of the streets were blocked, so I had a heck of a time actually getting to the cathedral, and I passed groups of men and women in full church attire making their way to the service. How’d they get to be so special?


Keep reading »

London, Day 2: Thames River Pageant

Miss a post, or want to read from the beginning? Click here.

After my weird sleep patterns and full day of sightseeing the day before, I slept in a bit on Sunday morning. The mission of the day, however, was to get in position for the Queen’s Thames River Pageant, one of the first high-profile events of the Diamond Jubilee weekend celebration.

I had been watching the crowd build up at Tower Bridge on television, so I knew I didn’t want to go there. Tower Bridge was the end of the pageant, where the Queen would disembark to watch the rest of the procession. That = craziness. Instead, I got out at the Mansion House tube stop, a ways down the river. With the rest of the country. We all — gobs of children, teenagers, families and strollers — walked for ages down the barrier streets, looking for a way in to the river. But, security was tight and every building and establishment along the river had scheduled private, ticket-only events. I’d had the opportunity to buy such a ticket, for a cocktail reception at about $250 a pop. That seemed ridiculous at the time, but not so as I walked and walked to get a decent view.

Near Blackfriars, along the Victoria Embankment, I spotted a place at the top of an incline that was only, oh, 15 people deep. So I wedged myself in and prepared for the two-plus-hour wait for the boats to reach us. There were screaming children, moments of aggressive pushing/leaning and close quarters among people who had both traveled from around the country and camped out there for the morning. It was not what I would call ‘pleasant.’ I tried desperately to protect my tiny sliver of a view of the river anyway. I was also positioned across the river from the Tate Modern museum, where a large screen was projecting someone’s, probably BBC, television coverage. So we could see images of the royal family boarding their boats, and had a vague notion of what was happening elsewhere.

Keep reading »

London, Day 1: On Arrival

Oh, London.

I’m freshly back from my London Jubilee/birthday excursion, and missing it already. That’s a little unusual, because as much as I am enamored with British culture, television, tea, accents, history and the royal family … I’ve just never really liked London. On this trip, though, I think the love affair began.

London’s such an easy city — to get to, to get around in, to visit alone. Though it’s nothing like New York, I felt a distinct and similar cityness — on the tube, in the hum of commuter rush hour, in just its oldness. But in that, of course, New York has nothing on London. I just felt surprisingly comfortable, and loved being back in the middle of the bustling city — you know I can throw an elbow in a crowd, hurl myself into a packed train car and speedwalk past the tourists with the best of them.

Now, it wasn’t a relaxing holiday, not like laying on a Caribbean beach with a mai tai for a week. And I killed it, every day, which means I made it through most of the sites on my to do list. It also means I hardly slept, mostly because I never acclimated to GMT. It sure made the coming home easier though — no early waking and to bed at 8 pm for me.
Keep reading »

Something to look forward to!

Ten years ago this summer I was in London to celebrate a milestone birthday and revel in the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, her 50 years on the throne. Well, it’s that time again — another milestone birthday, another jubilee.

Since I’ve had a lot of downtime as of late, my calendar for the year is frighteningly wide open. But now I can officially add an event, and a travel event at that — I’ll be in London to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee (and, oh yeah, my birthday) this June.

I can also mark the occasion as the first trip I’ve ever taken solo, or OYOBNA as they say. My go-to travel partner, other friends and my family were too noncommittal and this trip was important enough that I refused to let it just go by. I’ve lived in NYC, I’ve traveled the globe, I’ve even flown internationally by myself before, so why should I miss out?

The truth is that I’m kind of excited to go by myself — to explore what I want to do, on my schedule, at my pace. If I want to get up at 4 a.m. to snag the best parade route spot for gawking at royals, I’m gonna, without complaints, snide remarks or sleepyheads to annoy or slow me down. I can bask in my obsession completely unadulterated.
Keep reading »

Countdown to the royal wedding.

Have you heard any whispers about that royal wedding that’s coming up? No? Well maybe you live under a rock in Wyoming. Or, maybe you live under the JumboTron in Times Square but just couldn’t care less. If so, this may not be the post for you.

See, I’m excited. I’ve told you how I revel in royal pomp and circumstance, and I can’t wait to see all of that in action on April 29. Everyone’s asking me if I’m going to get up early and watch, and I think I have to. I won’t be taking the day off like some people (ahem) I know. But even if I DVR the whole thing, I can’t miss watching the wedding coverage live, right? I’ll probably just set my alarm for 4 am, blearily fumble for the remote and watch it from under my covers until I have to go to work. Once I get there, my coworkers have planned a high tea in celebration while we watch whatever festivities are left. I’ll be making authentic sticky toffee pudding. If you want to do the same, here are some other recipes you could try.

It’s clear that royalty is one of my obsessions, but don’t worry — I haven’t bought the replica royal engagement ring, the commemorative Union Jack flag or even the china with their faces on it. I’m not really in to tacky tchotchkes in general. I will, however, commit to watching television. America’s gone wacky over this royal wedding and the coverage is about to blow up our television sets. It’s like the second British invasion. If you’re royally obsessed (like me) but have room on your DVR (not like me), there are plenty of opportunities to educate yourself on all things royal over the coming weeks. I’ve gathered what information I can find, so get to ready to burn up your remote! Keep reading »

God save the queen.

I’m a little behind on the news, due to events beyond my control.  But in my sickly haze I’ve been keeping up with all the news on Prince William’s engagement to Kate Middleton. Hooray! I love a royal wedding.

Well, you know I actually love anything about royalty. And that’s apparently not a well-kept secret, since Heather called me last week for the lowdown on what all of this means. I’m informed on the royal goings-on, traditions and monarchical implications to a level that even surprises me. Let’s just say that I have trouble remembering the DuPont Identity formula, but I can give you a history of England’s royal succession during the past few hundred years on a moment’s notice.

I don’t know why I’m so enamored by royalty — maybe it’s the fairy tale and the glamour, the pomp and circumstance, the observance and appreciation for history, social etiquette and tradition, or just the dynamics of a large, extended, dysfunctional family. One of my earliest memories is of getting up early to watch Princess Diana’s wedding with my mom — pretty amazing, since I was 4. Keep reading »