The 60th anniversary celebration of Queen Elizabeth’s reign and the 2012 Summer Olympics will bring more tourists than ever to Great Britain this year.
The Olympics will be July 27 to Aug. 12 and Aug. 29 to Sept. 2. London is the only city to be chosen three times for Olympic hosting.
The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee June 2-5 will showcase Queen Elizabeth’s love of horses and feature the Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls American trick ridin’-and-ropin’ women from California. After a June 5 service at St. Paul’s Cathedral Queen Elizabeth will ride in a formal carriage procession.
Interspersing these pageantries with shopping forays into London’s famous street markets followed by a recuperative formal British afternoon tea is irresistible.
On a recent London trip I boarded the tube or subway in the early morning to scout the most famous one — Saturday morning’s Portobello Road a narrow 2-mile street in fashionable Notting Hill filled with vendors in temporary stalls.
It had been at least 10 years since my last Portobello visit.
I began at the vintage clothing end. Although there were a few interesting items inventory could not compare to Houston’s fabulous Montrose area resale shops in price or quality. Jessie Western featuring upscale western-themed high fashion stood out as excellent. Saturday emphasizes antiques but Portobello brick ’n’ board shops are open all week.
Vendor tents and booths are in groups — jewelry clothing souvenirs etc. — with street food carts every few feet.
It seemed crowds and vendors were way smaller than the throngs and bustling vendors I remembered from a decade ago.
Checking with locals confirmed my impression that Portobello is not perhaps as exciting as it once was.
We also visited covered markets at Old Spitafields which seemed bland; and Camden Market which emphasizes food and seems to offer little unique merchandise.
My traveling companions my cousin Richard and his wife Joyce exploring during a free day stumbled upon a quintessential formal British afternoon tea in one of London’s most famous hotels.
The 100-year-old five star Goring Hotel in chic Belgravia is where bride Kate Middleton her sister and mother spent the night before her wedding to Prince William.
Richard and Joyce raved enthusiastically about the afternoon Champagne followed by fresh strawberries in clotted cream scones salmon cucumber and chicken salad finger sandwiches ice cream and multiple types of tea.
They enjoyed ultra formal service yellow china on white lace tablecloths live piano music and the general ambience of one of Britain’s most famous ritual meals.
The cost for two people was about $180.
”But we didn’t care” Richard said. ”We enjoyed every minute of it.”
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