Day 3 - Friday
Got my off-peak day travelcard (as I did each morning after 9:30am) and stopped off at Regents Park. Made a leisurely stroll through the park, taking time to rest on benches, smell the flowers and listen to all the wonderful bird songs. Many times I simply people-watched and wondered what their lives were really like - does that sweet little old lady drink her daily tea out of china cups, does that mum get to push the pram through this lovely environment EVERY day (lucky her) - can I trade lives??
I passed by two charming little outdoor cafes in the park but kept heading toward the zoo. I had planned to go there, but felt more like exploring unchartered territory along the canal instead. Crossed a little bridge and made my way down to the towpath. Walked all the way to Camden Lock. It could get creepy if you were the only one on the path - maybe not the best thing for single females to do, I thought. When I reached Camden, it was not at all what I expected. I think I imagined a huge lot with some artisan stalls and everyone running around in goth-style clothing. Not at all. Being a Friday, it was fairly quiet with few people milling about. I really enjoyed browsing in the shops, especially Miniartworks. I was surprised to learn that there are separate "markets" in Camden and that much of it was inside. Stall after stall after stall - sensory overload. You can get everything from clothing to housewares, to your palm read. Walked down the street a bit and looked through the shoe shops. Finally realized I should get myself on a boat before I ended up wearing black, thigh-high platform boots (the serious kind) and a tattoo! It was not clear as to where to catch a canal ride, but finally ended up back at Camden Lock for the Waterbus. The ride along the canal was peaceful and relaxing - that is until one of the crew members initiated a cell phone call. We went by the aviary at the zoo, well-manicured lawns (& shirt-less young lads mowing those lawns), houseboats, through a dark tunnel and ended at the pool in Little Venice. There is also an Asian restaurant called Feng Shang in the bend in the canal. Red, Chinese-style architecture. I think it may have been floating(?). I was amazed at how quiet Little Venice was. After stepping onto dry land, I used my A-Z to find my way to Warwick tube station. Wanted to stay longer, but had to get to Chelsea Physic Garden for tea. Unfortunately, once I got all the way there, they had a sign on the door saying that they had closed early that day. I was disappointed, but one must be flexible. Besides, finding something else to do in London is never a problem! Meandered through the back streets (found a charming little coffee shop on a corner, but can't remember name or street - help me, please, I want to go back). Pushed my way down Kings Road without damaging the credit card toooo badly. Yet Muji is my weakness - lots of practical stuff I just HAD to have. Ended up at Peter Jones Dept. Store and tried to get an appointment for a facial, but too late in day. Shopped alittle and went up to the top floor cafe for iced coffee and the magnificent view. Overheard many locals at nearby tables complaining about their jobs. But what a nice way to end a work day - coffee with friends and a panoramic view of Londontown.
Shopping bags in tow, I made my way through a rush-hour tube ride. I now feel compassion for all the Londoners who have to commute in summer with no air-conditioning.
Late that evening, I headed to the Ceremony of the Keys at Tower of London. This was my first-time ever at the Tower so it was exciting. The ceremony itself wasn't much to write home about - another group came in last-minute and totally blocked my view. But I simply enjoyed being inside the Tower at night and imaging what it was like to live there. I think the beefeater said there were 38 families there now. I found it amusing at the very end when I turned around and caught the "soldiers" leaving the tower in their street clothes, carrying duffle bags. (They're real people too!) I introduced myself to forumite Dzm and her mother and we chatted and walked to the tube station together. As I was on the way back to the hotel, I realized that my vacation was already half over. Was tempted to call the airlines and extend my ticket!