To celebrate my 21st birthday last week, James organised a birthday weekend in London for me. This is the first trip he has planned for us, as it is usually me who sorts everything out!
The main highlights of the weekend included seeing Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theater on the Saturday evening and also Afternoon Tea at The Ritz on Sunday afternoon, but I would like to write separate posts about these as they were fabulous and deserve their own spotlight on the blog!
We met at St. Pancreas on Friday evening for dinner at Searcy’s. It was a convenient restaurant as we did not get into London until 20:30. I arrived into Euston after a manic journey of train delays, cancellations, and a stop in Crewe, but managed to arrive only 40 minutes later than expected which was a relief.
We booked two nights at the Great Northern Hotel which is located right by King’s Cross and St. Pancreas. It was ideal as it meant we didn’t have to go far on Sunday evening from collecting our luggage to getting our trains back up north and we were right by the Underground to get around the city. It isn’t the cheapest hotel; luckily breakfast was included, otherwise a full English Breakfast in the Plum & Spilt Milk restaurant costs £17 alone (!). On each floor with rooms, there is a pantry with access to free tea, coffee, newspapers and cakes which was sweet and the hotel was decorated beautifully. I’d definitely stay here again, it felt luxurious and we were treated well by the staff.
The room was designed like a couchette (a berth in a train carriage). It was small but the design and facilities were amazing which detracted from the size. The hotel was very traveler-friendly, as that’s its main purpose, being so close to the Eurostar. Vintage train travel posters hanging up added to the design. USB and European port chargers were in the walls in the restaurant and rooms as well as UK ones, to save travellers using adapters!
Before checking into the hotel, we walked across to King’s Cross to see Plaform 9 3/4 to take a picture. Despite being already 21:45, there was still a small queue lining to take pictures. Apparently the queue is ridiculous during the day, so we were lucky that we only had to wait under 5 minutes. I’d recommend going at this time at night to save queuing!
In the queue, I gave James the very important job of taking a photo of me at the platform. We both know he isn’t the best at taking pictures (I am the photographer), so I sorted out the aperture on my camera and told him what to do and prayed the picture would turn out okay for this very important moment in my life…
Me going through the platform to catch the Hogwart’s Express!
I’m very proud to say that he managed to take the picture no problem for once (I am in the picture, it is not wonky and nothing has been cut out) The only thing I am going to say about the whole thing, is that the owl looked a little bit pathetic on the trolley, but oh well!
Saturday morning, after a delicious breakfast, we made our way to the British Museum which I had yet to visit for the first time. It’s absolutely massive but free. We got a museum map and noted the things we wanted to see the most: Rosetta Stone, Elgin marbes, the mummies and a temprary exhibtion on Napoleon, ‘Bonaparte and the British,’ for the French Studies student that I am.
Of course, the Rosetta Stone had to be the FIRST THING you see as you enter the main exhibits, so there was a constant crowd of people trying to get up close to take pictures. It was quite disappointing as I wasn’t able to really appreciate seeing it up close as I had to move on to let other people squeeze past, but it was absolutely incredible to see the stone which was the key to deciphering hieroglyphics.
The ceiling – it’s worth coming here just for the architecture!
The Elgin Marbes
The exhibit ‘Bonaparte and the British’, explored Napoleon’s complex relationship with Britain, through the means of prints published during his lifetime. Some British, others French, but all range in negativity and positivity depending on how he was favored during moments of political importance. For example, one British print published after the Peace of Amiens in 1802, depicts Napoleon as a woman, peace personified. This is because the British are pleased to have secured peace with France after many years of war.
There were few French prints though, although I did like the one, ‘Vent contraire,’ where British ladies are wafting their fans in an attempt to blow a possible French invasion away from the southern coast of England. It was an interesting insight into this part of French history, especially to see Napoleon, such a controversial figure, to be displayed in a way so that we can see how his contemporaries viewed him in Europe.
Although one French man next to me at one point was not impressed – looking in disgust at some of the British propaganda prints and going “C’est trop!! C’est pas vrai!!” Moving on…