18 October : A Return to London

Sweet sorrow of parting, but less so this time. The sleek Intercity awaits us again, having retrieved our left luggage and downing a coffee, with, again, only moments to spare- no waiting or dawdling. We are efficient travelers, and no stress allowed.

King’s Cross, the tube, Bayswater Station and walk up Moscow Road to Princes Square. The proprietors had no record (of course) of our change in plans, but sort us out after a few minutes. On our first day here things were muddled as well, and they’d provided us with a small “double” rather than “twin” room (remember the petite room?!). We requested a twin this time, to which they asked “Why?” but finally, after some deliberation , found a spot for us, and were kind enough not to charge the full three nights originally reserved.

Top floor!! Many many flights with full luggage- “We need sherpas!”, our cry over the days of lugging… And note: here the first floor is what we call the second floor, so fifth floor really means five flights of stairs, not four- up some impossibly steep last steps to a room- “THE ROOM.” Yep. We had been saddled with a room they must have saved for only last resort situations. The shower stall doors were barely hanging on, the ceiling was water-stained and moldy– (we irreverently dubbed it our “Katrina” room) It did, however, have a splendid view of the square, plus phone and telly.

Hello again, London! We are no longer zombies!

Having got over the breathless hike up those “note-to-self-bring-sherpas-next-time” stairs; it is getting on near dinner time so we wander the streets of our neighborhood, not wishing a return to the Commander. We finally decide upon a place smack on a busy corner of our main drag, and are thoroughly and delightfully surprised at two really delicious meals, and enjoy a corner table for maximum street viewing.

Having digested, we head back out into the bright lights, glistening sidewalks from mist of rain, and seek next stop. We decide (after heading a few blocks east and finding only more hotels) to head instead toward Notting Hill; there’s bound to be some interesting places over there, however trendy. And trendy we found- mere blocks from our square, off a quiet and darkly lit residential street we spot twinkling white string lights and decide to investigate. A surprise, indeed: The poorly-named but seriously posh Beach Blanket Babylon. We enter and find a table; looking around at the amazing and intensely detail-oriented interior. Order doubles of single-malt and a bottle of water. The drinks are pricey- £9 per (that’s about sixteen bucks each in USD, kids) but we splurge to take in the view. We meet our waitress, Kim- a sweet young Swiss model, we would learn, who tells us that the proprietors were both set designers, and that the whole interior is “fake” but brilliantly done nonetheless. Here we stayed til final call of the night. Most enjoyable time spent, and the largest bill of the trip!

A misty walk back to “THE ROOM” and all those many steps are so much easier when one is pissed enough to not pay attention to them! Ha!

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