Who does not love Paddington?
Our final full day. Once again Anna Grace was studying, breaking to lunch with friends from ICL. Tony and I were awake with the first trains of the District Line, sipping our coffee and plotting the day. The weather seemed to be holding for a day outing to Dover and so to St. Pancras we went to catch the train. We were hoping to avoid the London Marathon crowds and thankfully Mother Nature stepped in with the assist.
Like Paris, London is always a good idea. The city is home to around as many people as there are in the whole of Austria, and visiting felt like the urban equivalent of forest bathing. English spoken EVERYWHERE! Look Right! Diversity! Shops open on Sunday! Great Indian Food! Free Museums!*
If it is not obvious, food and dining feature prominently on our travel itineraries, and London did not disappoint. It being near to the Chinese New Year, and London being home to Europe’s largest Chinatown, sitting for Peking Duck was a must.
Here in Vienna one can’t throw a Mozart kugel without hitting schlocky souvenirs of Emperor Franz Josef and Empress Elisabeth. Or Gustav Klimt. Or Mozart. London souvenir shops, in contrast, are far more discreet in their tacky royal souvenir offerings, and even more so in their Harry Potter giftware selections. One tourist activity London does offer, though, is a “Harry Potter Tour,” and the three of us spent a pleasant afternoon walking about the city in the footsteps of The Boy Who Lived.
War propaganda amuses me greatly. Women were called upon to perform “man’s work” while also maintaining the home in the face of rations and the need to be spendthrift, and men were advised to watch their tongues in their presence, as presumably all women were spies, too. After the war, of course, women were reduced to homemaking. Sigh.
We love London. Being in London satisfies our spirits in the same way that long weekends to NYC from D.C. made us happy. There is just something about a “big city” that calls to us. (By comparison for those wondering, the population of London hovers around 8 million; that is approximately the population of the whole of Austria. Vienna, the country’s most populous city, is home to around 1 million people.)