Wednesday, December 28, 2011

South Kensington, London

Maybe it's the travel exhaustion talking ... but I've been a serious nervous wreck since arriving here in London early this morning. I suppose I am normally pretty scattered - every time we arrive in a new apartment, there is so much to figure out. But today this was combined with 5 people's jet-lag and sleep-deprivation, meaning we're all on edge. And to add to that, I'm living just 1/2 mile from my old apartment near Kensington Gardens ... which I could have chosen, and probably should have chosen ... it was really quite an excellent place, and familiar. I knew everything about the apartment, the neighborhood, the distances to things, the local shops, the public transit. Instead, I chose to stay somewhere new, thinking there was a chance it would be even better than Prince of Wales Terrace, and it would be closer to the good grocery store, the museums, and the Underground (all these proximities are true).

Our new place, a 1/2 block from the Natural History Museum, is in a beautiful location, but it is honestly one of the oddest and least-well-appointed apartments we've stayed at. ...it's not that it's grungy. In fact is has some strangely-chosen luxuries, like radiant-floor heating in one of the bathrooms. But the list of "things missing from this apartment", which I make in every city, seems much longer in this one. How can a fully-furnished apartment not have a single large knife, a washcloth, a potholder? Why do parts of it, like the particle-board dressers and the stained, ratty carpeting, look like they're from a cheap motel? (this is a "penthouse" level, top-floor, 3-bedroom 2-bathroom apartment in one of the poshest neighborhoods in London). Why do the kids rooms have no dresser drawers, but gigantic wardrobes instead? And for Christ's sake why, again, is there not a single place to hang a coat in here? No coat rack. No hooks. Not even a closet.

On the bright side - this is the first place we've stayed that will have basic housekeeping service every day. woo-hoo! I may not even have to make the beds or wash the dishes.

I am getting ahead of myself. I first wanted to mention that our flight over here went smoothly. Everything went according to plan with the shuttle and the airport, and the kids even slept a few hours on the plane. (more than I can say for me and Greg). It was so funny when we arrived in London, I guess our flight was early because they put us in a holding pattern. This is what it looked like on the screen in front of us (note Heathrow far to the left):



I took Ayla and Isa out for a walk this afternoon. I was hoping we would bump into some kind of kids' playground. It was distressing to discover that in South Kensington, green spaces are heavily gated and locked, open only to private owners. We ran into several of these. I guess they are determined to keep out the vagabonds... and truthfully I haven't seen any homeless or disturbed-looking people wandering around this part of town at all. But what about the children who want to play outside?

Our entertainment here simply will have to take other forms. The girls and I walked over to the Brompton Oratory and explored inside the beautiful old church. Then we wandered into the V & A Museum to admire sculptures, miniature paintings and jewelry. All of these kinds of things are free.

OK, sleep deprivation is hitting hard and I might fall asleep on my keyboard. Signing off, from London!

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