Expanded bus tour took us through Mayfair and Kensington. One property in Kensington cost 300 million pounds. Mind boggling. Spent the afternoon at the magnificent Victoria and Albert museum. It houses every form and era of decorative art from all corners of the globe. Glass, porcelain, silver, fashion, sculpture and jewelry, rooms and rooms of treasure. It could be said that the British Empire pillaged the riches of every country it colonized and explored. But in the 21st century I am grateful to the British taxpayers for the opportunity to visit all their museums for free. We had a light lunch in the Pre-Raphaelite room adjacent to the elegant V&A tearoom. There was a pianist playing and the decor was 19th century elaborate, over the top opulence. Delicious.
Sat at a bus stop on the way back to the hotel and had a fun conversation with two little sisters and their mother from Kent. The older girl was severely disabled and was on the way to a doctor’s appointment. The little sister got the day off school in the bargain. They were lively and funny. We talked about pop music, who they liked and didn’t. Emili Sande was their favorite. Both wanted to be actresses/singers and had already chosen their stage names. They reminded me so much of myself at that age. It really made my day.
Moved on to the Grange Whitehall Hotel next to the British Museum. The Grange is an old world hotel housed in a Georgian building on a short street lined with Georgian buildings. Very Jane Austen. We had a spacious room with an elegant decor. Great breakfast in the dining room with a view of the private park. London has many of these private parks enclosed on four sides. Huge plane trees and brilliant flowering plants on a green lawn. Really friendly staff and lots of American tourists.
We visited the library at the British Museum; a treasure trove not only of rare books but every type of ephemera so popular in the 18th century private collections of the upper class. Natural wonders of the world; shells, corals, rocks, taxidermy, coins, pottery and an impressive collection of wax seals took hours to see. There was an exhibit of Meso American wall friezes and sculpture that was creatively curated.