Hampton Court Palace

Trip Start May 06, 2008
1
5
29
Trip End Jun 06, 2008


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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Saturday, May 10, 2008

"Not all those who wander are lost." - J.R.R. Tolkien




Day 3 : 10th May 2008 (Saturday) Hampton Court Palace

We were discussing over breakfast the quickest and most cost efficient way of getting to Hampton Court Palace.My initial plan for today was to head to Portobello Road and the Notting Hill area since it is a Saturday but like I said, I was a little over ambitious  with the planning and thought we were in better shape than we are, so we're a little behind... Fortunately, Sanjiv saved us the struggle to get to the palace using the local transport by volunteering to drive us there, today being his day off work. So we piled into his car, marveled at his TomTom while he plugged in the destination and off we went.

We had our trusty 2for1 vouchers here too, and Godwin and I had no problems validating them. Good thing too, because entry is pretty steep at 13. There was a minor hiccup when the teller refused to let Ashok and Glynis use their voucher. They quickly pointed us out as we were leaving the ticket office and said we had just purchased the same tickets using the voucher and so convinced the teller to sort them out. This was the only place where we had a problem using the Oyster in conjunction with the vouchers. I guess the rule change was kicking in. As we approached the palace we saw costumed guides outside, doing a kind of a skit. It was quite enjoyable listening to the enchanting stories of the Tudor era brought to life in old English with their yea and nay. The guide was taking us through  Henry VIII's State Apartments regaling us with stories of Henry the VIII, Cardinal Wolsey and Katherine of Aragon when we got a phone call from Sanjiv telling us he would be joining us at the palace. That was a pleasant surprise as the original plan was that he would drop us and go back home as Bunga was alone.

The audio guides left a lot to be desired, I've seen (ok heard... as was rightly pointed out by Nicole who misses nothing...) better. The palace itself was interesting, the courtyard stunning, and the Haunted Gallery eerie. We didn't see any ghosts but apparently this area is stalked by the spirit of Catherine Howard, one of the wives of Henry VIII who was later executed. If walls could talk, oh the stories we would hear - of affairs, treachery, debauchery. Take your pick. The Baroque Apartments were quite impressive as well. Who knew they needed a public bedroom AND a private bedroom... We then moved to the Tudor kitchens, which I liked the best.

When we were done touring the insides we moved out to the formal gardens outside. Again, impressive but don't really compare to Versailles. There was this little train that did a round of the gardens for a small fee, excellent way to get a feel without burning up thigh muscle. And of course we had to head to the maze, I was really looking forward to that. When we got to the famous maze, I was a little disappointed, for some reason I thought it would be bigger or at least more challenging. Too soon we were at the heart of the maze. Oh well. We still had things to accomplish today, and Sanjiv made a quick call to check on Bunga, and then decided to drive us to the British Museum. On the way to the car park, we picked up some Mars bars ice cream, Godwin needed a pick-me-up...

Driving through London, overground, was a different experience as opposed to taking the tube. The traffic was also a little frustrating. We thought we'd never get there with enough time to explore the vast British Museum. We hurried up the stairs, got through the front entrance and found ourselves in the Great Court. The great thing about museums in London is that they are free. We didn't have too much time before the museum closed for the day so we decided to split up, hit the highlights and meet back at the food area. Of course we had to go see the Rosetta Stone first, it was amazing to see it up close and in person after I'd read so much about it. Even more impressive were the Elgin (or Parthenon) Marbles from the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. We lingered in this area, admiring the beautiful sculptures. Greece has been trying to get them back for years, and I can see why. They're beautiful. I also enjoyed seeing the Easter Island figure, Ginger - the earliest mummified person in the Egypt collection, the Lindow man a.k.a. ‘Pete Marsh’ who was preserved in a bog for 2000 years, the ceramics from Imperial China, the Aztec collection, the Lewis Chessmen and the "pill" exhibit - where every pill ever taken was laid out. We could have walked around in amazement for the rest of the day and still not see even half of what the museum has to offer, and it was almost closing time so we headed to the food court to refuel.

Then it was back outside where we walked down to the Covent Garden area, window shopping along the way. We had to head back to Bunga's place early as she was having another barbeque party, and was expecting guests, so we had to get back sooner rather than later and make ourselves presentable. We did have a little time to watch some of the street performers do their thing though. They were quite good and definitely entertaining. Once we'd had enough, we made our way to the Covent Garden tube stop, and boy, it was crowded! It was so bad that we lost Ashok and Glynis. The train came, there was chaos and confusion, do we take this one or not, we got left behind and the train whisked Ashok and Glynis away.We looked around they weren't there! Shock and horror. I'm the one unofficially in charge of checking the routes so I was so worried if they'd get home ok. We took the next train and only hoped they would realize getting back to Bunga's involved changing trains. The crowd thinned out as the stations progressed until finally, for the last few stops, it was just us. It was a little uncanny, the whole train to ourselves. We got off at Northolt and were making our way to our secret shortcut when we see two familiar people walking hurriedly towards us in the dark. Ashok and Glynis! They made it alright, its just that they missed the shortcut and walked more than they should have. They were backtracking when we caught up with them. Phew! Huge weight off my chest!!!

We walked from the tube stop to our home away from home and found we had enough time to freshen up and get ready before the guests arrived. We all moved out into the backyard and Lui, Pierre, Ninoshka and Savio arrived shortly after. We had an excellent time, it really didn't feel like we were in England, of all places. This could have been a party in any backyard back home in Goa, good food, good beer and lots of interesting conversation with old friends. When it got late, we moved inside to the living room where we played games well into the night. Dumb charades, that was fun. Lui decided to stay back and spend Sunday with us. Little did he know what was in store for him....



Steps walked: 13565
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Where I stayed
Bunga's place

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