Not many people would spend such a short time in London — only a day and a half for us. And most visitors would want to see all the places marked in bold print in their tour guides. But since we’d checked off the Tower, Buckingham, and Westminster Abbey years ago, we decided just to stroll the streets in our few short hours, picking up city vibes from the sights and sounds in the Mayfair district. We’d round out the trip with a ride on The Thames down to The Globe to fulfill an English teacher’s dream.
What it all boiled down to for us was a glimpse at the people and places that make Mayfair and Marylebone special. A few shots from a brief stay in London.
The Bird Man at Marble Arch
A quick walk from our hotel, Grosvenor House, landed us squarely in front of Marble Arch. The structure, built in 1825 as a gateway to Buckingham Palace and moved to this location in 1851, faces Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park. We came to see it and take the obligatory picture in front of it, noting our presence for future slide shows, I suppose.
But what we didn’t expect to see was a man feeding the birds. So mesmerizing was the experience of watching him patiently throw out crumbs to eager birds that we took more pictures of him than of the arch itself! Add to that, a closer look at the photos revealed notables in the background: the back side of Still Water (largest free-standing bronze sculpture in London — it’s a horse head, by the way) and a double decker bus. Pretty nifty London parting shot!
(By the way, we’ve discovered a fascinating blog detailing walks through London by Stu who dubs himself the London Wlogger. His walking adventures like “Marble Arch to Mayfair: Streets and Squares” would make great guides to take along the next time you’re in the city.)
Call us hippies if you wish, but we really don’t have an identity tied to a particular decade. We do, however, remember the world spotlight focused clearly on The Beatles in the 60s when we were freshmen in college gathered round TVs in college dorm rooms watching the “Ed Sullivan Show.” And later in the 60s, we were drawn to a skinny but svelte young lady from the UK who took the fashion world by storm: Twiggy. It was a time when places like Abbey Road and Carnaby Street became household terms even for those of us who had never been to England, let alone walk the famous streets.
But here we were in 2016, and the banners just seemed appropriate. After all, we like peace, love, and harmony as much now as we did then. Maybe more.
The Lady in Liberty
We remembered the store called Liberty of London on Regent Street from the time we last visited (oh, gosh, has it been that long?) 42 years ago! But now, we think it’s just called Liberty or, as the website calls it, Liberty London. It was a luxury department store known for beautiful scarves — and still is if the goods displayed are any indication. As a young traveler, I was enamored with fashion, but now I gaze admiringly at architecture — especially old architecture — and finishes such as the floors, stairwells and rails in Liberty.
But our parting shot has to be this one: a refined, yet quite fashionable sales lady who approached us quietly and demurely just to see if we had any questions or needed her support. She epitomized salespeople we remembered from the “old days” when department stores, those bastions of customer service and fine goods for “milady,” catered to shoppers and their every need. Her dress, jewelry, even her personal stature made a statement, and also a memorable shot of the London we had remembered, still here at Liberty!
With all its vibrancy and history and frenetic big city bustlings, London remains one of our favorite destinations.
We take a breath. Vow to come back. And hope it’s not 42 years from now.
Do you have a favorite memory of London? We’d love to hear from you.
And to read more posts on London, click here.
Happy travels — Rusha and Bert