Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrsates it! I've been home for 2 days now and have some dishes cookig up in the oven, but I'm blogging to you about my little extra "weekend" in London.London's a good place to get stuck for 3 days, I must say. Once the British Airways clerk made a new reservation for me for Saturday (3 days after my arrival), I resigned myself, relaxed and decided to do a little tourism. Here you see Big Ben not really covered in fog... This was my breathtaking view just as I walked up from the Westminster underground stop. Sadly for me, Westminster Abbey and Parliament were closed to tourism for the Christmas holidays (re-opening after Epiphany, January 8th). So, I spent my two tourist days between the British Museum, Harrods, fish and chip shops and Indian restaurants on Brick Lane.
Here, you think you're seeing the famous and remarkably well-preserved bust of Egyptian pharaoh, Ramses II, but in actual fact, I took no photos in the British Museum, this is actually a bust of Mohammed Al Fayed, the father of Dodi Al Fayed, Princess Diana's last boyfriend, done up on Ancient Egyptian style. It sits at the top of the most elaborate Art Deco/Egyptian Revival style escalator anyone's ever seen. The escalator is reminiscent of "The Egyptian Theater" in my old college town of DeKalb, IL. They're both, I believe products of the 1930s. As far as Mr. Al Fayed is concerned, first I laughed out loud because it really is an incongruous thing to see his chubby, cute, obviously not ancient face on that bust, but then I was taken aback by his apparent narcissism. I mean, who does this guy fancy himself to be, anyway? There's a life-sized and lifelike Duane Hansen-style sculpture of him somewhere on the ground floor as well.
Now, as far as Indian food on Brick Lane is concerned. Don't bother. I had one mediocre meal of Chicken Masala there and another meal of paneer masala that was just awful. I hear that Southall, near Heathrow airport is a larger neighborhood, more diverse in its offerings and has better quality food. I'll remember that for next time.
Fish and Chips. Got some cod and chips wrapped in paper to go in some anonymous corner chippy and the fish was gorgeous, tender, super crispy on the outside and all-around heavenly. The chips were a sorry, hours-old, mushy mess. So the next day I googled "best fish and chips in London" and found Brady's in Wandsworth. It was a hike and a half from the East Putney underground stop. When I got there I found a lovely sit-down restaurant full of apparent locals. Got the fried haddock and chips and was underwhelmed. The chips were certainly better than the ones the day before but not very crispy (my benchmark) and the fish was a bit drier on the inside and less crispy on the outside than the corner chippy. So, the moral of the story is: get a personal reference both for Indian food and for fish and chips.