Our wonderful exploration of London comes to an end tomorrow. The time passed too quickly, as time so teasingly does when one is one vacation. It’s been a fantastic trip. Mostly because I was able to spend so much quality time with Chloe and to enjoy the city through her observant and wry lens. I’ll write more about the mother-daughter aspect of the trip in my next blog post, once we’ve returned home. In the meantime, here are some final highlights. And for anyone considering a similar trip to London or Paris with their kids, I’m available to create custom itineraries for a modest fee – feel free to spread the word (my anal-retentive attention to detail ensures you won’t be disappointed).
(2) After a getting our fill of contemporary art at the Tate Modern, we made our way to the Globe Theatre, where we had the good fortune of celebrating Shakespeare’s 450th birthday by attending the opening night of the two-year world tour of “Hamlet.” And by world tour, they don’t mean visiting a country or two on each continent. The company is planning to perform the masterpiece for audiences in every single country on earth. I kid you not. Needless to say, the atmosphere was electric and it was an experience we won’t soon forget.
(3) We couldn’t resist taking one last excursion outside of London. Our destination of choice was Hampton Court Palace, known for its beautiful gardens and the fact that King Henry VIII gave it to Cardinal Wolsey, one of his preferred advisors, before reclaiming it when the cardinal failed to convince the pope to grant the king a divorce from his first wife, Queen Catherine of Aragon, so that Henry could marry Anne Boleyn.
Our trip to the castle taught me an incredibly important lesson: I would be a horrible (or terrifically entertaining, depending on your perspective) contestant on “The Amazing Race.” Our train to Hampton Court was canceled due to a breakdown and no one knew when the trains on that particular line would start running again. So a kind and well-intentioned, but not very well-informed, station employee suggested we take an alternate train and a bus to get to our destination. As luck would have it, he looked up “longest possible route to Hampton Court Palace” in his train schedule guide. A trip that should have taken 30 minutes took us two hours. When I finally comprehended the journey upon which we had embarked, no amount of completely inappropriate cursing made the time go by any faster. A 45-minute train ride to a town called Staines, followed by a 10-minute walk, followed by an hour bus ride, followed by another 5-minute walk…and we finally arrived. The suffering was well worth it, however, as the castle and its grounds were truly spectacular.
(5) One more used bookstore was in the cards for us today. Slightly Foxed was on Chloe’s hit list and we quickly succumbed to its charms. With some financial assistance from me, she purchased a 1924 edition of A.A. Milne’s book of poetry, “When We Were Young,” and treated herself to an 1899 edition of Washington Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle.” Chloe’s becoming quite the young collector, which gives me much joy.
(6) Our final stop was the fascinating Victoria & Albert Museum, which is home to one of the most eclectic collections of decorative art I’ve ever seen. We admired jewelry, wrought iron gates, a medieval staircase, the largest bed in Tudor England, a breathtaking 16th century Iranian rug, a replica of Trajan’s Column in Rome, an exhibition of clothing spanning the 18th-21st centuries, a pink 1970s vacuum cleaner…I said eclectic, didn’t I?
And that’s all, folks. Thanks for the wonderful memories, my sweet Chloe.