Italian Pavilion in Hyde Park
After a very pleasant nine hour flight from Vancouver, over Hudson Bay, I spent two hours getting through immigration. In spite of that, parts of London are working on being customer friendly, at least when an AC flight arrives. The LHR worker pointing travelers to the correct line: UK, EU, and non-EU (Brexit hasn't happened yet!), was passing out maps of Central London. After waiting patiently, I finally made it through immigration and customs, a mile walk in all, to the Paddington Express for a very short, but pleasant, fifteen minute ride to Paddington Station, which was two short blocks from my hotel, that I'd picked because of the short walk to Paddington. The ride was a welcome chance to sit down in quiet. And I must add: Kudos to Paddington Express workers for their outstanding customer service.
The walk to my hotel was as I 'd expected having been in and around Paddington Station many times. The weather was picture perfect: 70s (20s), bright and sunny. But glad to have left my backyard at home!
After a two hour nap in my small, but pleasant room, I set out for a walk in Hyde Park. It was a short distance away. The Lancaster Gate Hotel, the first place I stayed in London, was 'on the corner', across from a gate into the park near the Italian Pavilion. It is a lovely reflection pond with fountains, a few typical London birds: pigeons, coots, magpies, mallards, etc., and a GBH in the lake beyond, all with a peaceful view. People milled, children played, tourists rode Boris bikes, right over No Cycling signs, and everyone generally enjoyed the warm sunny autumn day. That included yours truly. A lovely lady from Chile asked me in her limited English about the GBH. Unfortunately, my Spanish suddenly became very limited, as had my German back in the airport, where a lady from Berlin and I tried to talk about their hiking around Jasper. Oh well, at least the smiles got through.
After having achieved my personally imposed daily five mile minimum, and some exercise in the sun to switch my body clock, I wandered back through the neighborhood looking for a likely place for supper: was it quiet, would the food be good, i.e., fresh and nutritious, and would it be reasonable. Lots to choose from: pubs, fast food, and most appealing: Indian, Greek, Chinese, Persian, etc. i finally settled on Kotell's, a little Greek place -- what a treat. The proprietor was welcoming, and even offered me a table in the front window, not back by the kitchen, where parties of one are frequently shown. He served a small antipasto plate of olives, carrots, a pepper, and sauces with pita. The main was delicious Kofta along with a fresh green salad, ripe tomatoes, and roasted potatoes. And the finish, just offered, not ordered nor charged, was a bowl of delicious fresh fruit: raspberries, strawberries, grapes, and a couple gooseberries ... all for 17 GBP including an Hellenic lager.
From supper, I walked half a block to my hotel, told the receptionist about my delicious dinner, and retired to my room to text Tom and crash for the night. All in all, it was a lovely first day back in London and Merry Old England, as I reflect while writing this in the middle of the night here.