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Archive for the ‘Shopping’ Category

28 October 2010

10:45 a.m. – Found a nice quiet Caffe Nero (the Italian competitor for the lesser quality Starbucks in this neck of the proverbial woods) in a side street off Sussex Gardens, to begin today’s post. Ordered a Caffe Mocha (good strong stuff made with the normal two hefty shots of espresso instead of that overpriced, watered down nonsense we get from S-bucks) and a salami and mozzarella panini for breakfast. The coffee rocked though the panini was so-so. The goal of today is to finally find the new Josef Siebel factory story that just opened here in London. Good shopping awaits, yeah? But first, I must continue where last night’s adventures left off.

After having attempted to go to bed relatively early last night (not to so successful, really. Ambien failed me for the first time.), I realized that MY concept of early and everyone else’s clashed….badly. My young German and Dutch neighbors seemed to have boundless energy as they came breezing into their respective rooms at all hours of the night with only a brief respite between 3 and 6 a.m. Somewhere in my sleep-deprived haze, I heaved a premature sigh of relief, hoping that I could finally slip into dreamland. That was not to happen. Around 6:30 a.m., the road construction just outside my window, resumed with a vengeance. Between the viciously swearing road crews and the very loud robins that were happily chirping in the trees lining Inverness Terrace, I tried very hard to ignore the nagging feeling that Ihad actually rented a dorm room instead of a hotel room. Burrowing more deeply into the snug comforter provided, I tried to drift back off to sleep. Not too much later, my neighbors awoke from their brief catnap. Amid hairdryers, the neighbors arranging breakfast plans very loudly between rooms and showers being taken, it seemed to me that I had a snowball’s chance in hell of getting any shut-eye so I surrendered myself to preparing to meet the day.

1:45 p.m. – After breakfast, I walked down Sussex Gardens and Marlybone Street, past Baker Street (unfortunately, I didn’t need to go down far enough on Baker Street to see the home of the legendary Sherlock Holmes), the University of London Global and a whole host of historic homes and streets to get to Neal Street, a quaint little shopping district off High Holborn. It was far more entertaining to go off the beaten path of tourist traps and see the real neighborhoods of London, from Paddington, to the very political Regent’s Park, to the tiny student residences the line Gower Street.  I’m having a Coke here in a tiny little sandwich shop on Neal Street (the Green Garden Cafe, very working class) so that I could rest and update this blog entry. The guys that own the shop are funny and energetic and they kept apologizing to me for it being so rowdy there (think they thought I was doing important work or something). They were really nice overall, really sweet.

Neal Street is what one would call a bazaar of sorts and is situated between the Soho and Covent Garden sections of London. All manner of shops lines it and the other streets surrounding it which make up sort of a spoked wheel called the Seven Dials (I really will put up a picture gallery one day, honest!). Each dial has shops such as UGGs, Diesel, Josef Siebel, and even a shop for Official NFL sportswear.

Covent Garden is a little farther down Neal St and James St and is HUGE open air market/mall where one can purchase freshly made food, produce, upscale merchandise and, across the way, is sort of a flea market for kitschy, tourist type goods. The London Transport Museum as well as the Royal Opera House is situated next to the Covent Garden Market. The whole area had a festive feel to it; it was packed with people shopping, watching street performers, eating supper or buying for meals to cook at home. You’d have never known that it was the middle of the week, there were so many people around. It was a bit daunting for me because I felt that I had to doubly be on my guard against pickpockets in a close situation like this. Even so, all of the shopkeepers, police, and locals were very friendly, helpful and kind. It was a very enjoyable experience.

Really wished you were there. You know who you are. ❤

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Still a bit lagged today. Got up around noonish and laid around for a bit in order to muster up some energy. Showered and took the local #423 bus to the Heathrow Terminal Underground station. It had been raining buckets all day so any sightseeing enthusiasm was dampened (no pun intended) so I basically set up shop in a Starbucks off Piccadilly West to use the Internet and people-watch for a couple of hours. It was interesting to sit in an establishment in an English-speaking country and not hear a word of English being spoken. Piccadilly and Leicester Squares are veritable melting pots of cultures, skin colors and cuisines.

After the rain had dialed back a bit, I wandered further down Piccadilly to marvel at all of the upscale shops and restaurants. Somewhere between nearly being run over by a taxi and the fast-moving pedestrian traffic, I glanced across the street and noticed the very ornate, brightly lit storefront of Fortnum and Mason, one of the few Palace-approved merchants found in the Piccadilly/Bond Street area. Needless to say, I could not resist any shopping possibility that presented itself.

Once inside, I felt like I had stepped into a Harry Potter-esque set. There were all types of candies, chocolates, teas, fine coffees, Christmas ornaments/decorations (Mr. Cordingley, one of Fortnum & Mason’s services advisors, explained that their Christmas display had been up since AUGUST!!). It was heavenly and the staff were very friendly and helpful. I left about $300+ poorer but it was worth it.
🙂

By the time I left the store, it was quite dark. I headed back to the hotel, fully intent on doing a bit more shopping during the daylight hours. Still need to try a Morroccan restaurant.

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