Thursday, July 21, 2005

I was 14 the first time I went to London. My social Studies teacher -Mr McKinney organized a student travel group. I was sent along. We traveled through Scotland and stayed in London in Mayfair. Who’d ever guess that old dive we stayed in on Half Moon Street would be turned into a Hilton with a single room going for hundreds of a dollars a night? That was the trip that I looked the wrong way on Piccadilly Circus and got hit by a car....32 years later and I still tremble at the thought of crossing the street....Mr McKinny gave us loads of free time..while the other lil girls wept from homesickness, I embraced the first chance, I abandoned my classmates and took off to find Carnaby Street on my own...and I did!
.As a kid I was a “roamer” and I still am and that is just how I spent my last day in London. We all went to the Globe Theater..but there was no way I would spend 3 & 1/2 hours watching Shakespeare in the heat & humidity! So, I took off, I had my Tube ticket and had money so I could always grab a taxi if I got lost. But of course, I didnt get lost.
I crossed the Thames on the Southwark foot bridge which leads one right to St. Paul’s ..
From there it was easy (turn left and head west!) I marched along fleet street found myself in Theaterland (yes, that’s what it’s called). My favorite shopping is Covent Garden (no garden just shops and market stalls) I spent quite awhile hunting for little treasures there- they have some very nice crafter’s boothes there) . I moved along through Soho (no werewolves holding Chinese menus this time, though) to Piccadilly Circus and along Piccadilly to Mayfair past The Hard Rock (my favorite London hang out when I was 14) To Hyde Park...Once in Hyde Park, I trekked up Rotten Row and The Serpintine crossed the bridge and wandered through the meadow to Princess/Lady Di’s fountain - which is like a cement creek the course is shaped like a letter “D”....I found Bayswater road a bit of ways from there and followed it West toward Kensington. Once I saw the statue of Peter Pan, I knew I was pretty close to Nottinghill gate and kept on til I got to our street (Pembridge Gardens). A triumph for me! I didnt need a Tube or a bus or a cab or even a map..
Along the way, I recognized all kinds of places that brought back the Waldorf! One trip to London, I was with my pal Trinda, we were 18 and about to begin the huge Eurotrek...we had just gotten off one of those Freddy Laker air buses and were wearing truly raggy jeans and tees...and had all this backpacking type gear..My Dad’s travel agent had made these 1st nite reservations for us at the quite posh and stuffy Waldorf..the desk clerk did not seem to believe us or our vouchers and even phoned the US to make sure we were who we said we were before finally letting us check in...
So many memories...