For some reason, as we were planning our trip, I kept cutting us short by a day. So it was a really lovely bonus to realize we'd have on extra day on the tail end of things. It was one of the best parts of our plan, really. A Sunday in London before heading back home on Monday morning.
I really think that a sunny summer London Sunday must be what heaven is all about.
Trains from Paris come into St. Pancras station , which, while stunning in its own right, is even more so by its attachment to the jaw-dropping five-star hotel. It really is a fairy tale building. A more detailed history of the station can be found here, but the bare bones of its story are this: Completed in 1868, the building was once the largest enclosed space in the world, but in 1966 the St. Pancras was endangered and nearly destroyed to create a new station. Public opinion intervened to save the space, and the hotel opened in 2011. It now houses several restaurants, including the Booking Office Bar, housed in the station's old ticket booking office and the Gilbert Scott. It was at the Gilbert Scott that Annie and Richard suggested that we meet for brunch.
They couldn't let us go, they said, without a proper English breakfast. It was wonderful. (Next time we come, I want to go here.)
While we waited for our meal, Annie sneaked upstairs for a look at the stunning architecture of the building (I really think I need to stay here one day.), and we're sure we caught sight of Tilda Swinson on our way back to the table (Which tells me I'll never be able to afford to stay there.).
After breakfast, we left our bags and hopped right next door to the British Library and its wonderful Room of Treasures. Sounds a bit like something out of Harry Potter, doesn't it? The Treasures is a permanent display of some of the greatest treasures of the library. It's a rotating display of truly exceptional items ranging from the Magna Carta to John Lennon's handwritten set of lyrics to Yesterday. When I saw Jane Austen's writing desk, glasses and the start of one of her novels I started to cry.
That stop was by far one of the most moving moments of the whole trip for me. I still get a little weepy thinking about it.
After brunch we grabbed a cab back to Annie and Richard's flat and almost immediately set out for a long Sunday afternoon walk to Primrose Hill and Regent's Park.
Remember what I just said about sunny summer Sundays in London being heaven. Well, here's your proof.
We took our time wandering through Primrose Hill and then past the zoo in Regent's Park. After that a quick stop for ice cream before on the the stunning rose gardens in full flush. On the pitches there were games of cricket and even softball! We wandered paths that were wild and meadow-y and paths that were paved and tame. We watched boats in the canals and funny birds swim and bob for fish. Everywhere there were people, but it didn't seem crowded, and I can't imagine a better way to spend a Sunday, really.
It was the perfect end to our trip. The only hard part was saying good-bye. Farewell, London. Farewell Paris. Farewell dear friends. Now it's really over.