London: The perfect pub, royal castles and Sherlock HolmesBy
LONDON – Sherlock Holmes, castles, queens, wine and beer. Yes, that seems to sum up our itinerary today.
Since this was our last full day in London, we wanted to squeeze everything in. We worried this morning because the forecast called for rain. Didn’t rain a drop. Cloudy and cool across London.
Our day began with wine. Seriously. During our months of research, we learned Gordon’s wine bar was the oldest in London, established in 1890. We didn’t go there because it’s old. We went to Gordon’s because of the unique ambiance. Descend the flight of stairs into an old wine cellar lit by candles. The walls are covered with old photos and historic newspapers featuring the Royal family and England through the years. Very cool.
The owner encouraged us to arrive at 11am before the lunch crowd showed up. If you want a romantic, unique place for wine or lunch consider Gordon’s. The ceilings in the old cellar are less than six feet tall, forcing taller guests, like myself, to duck. Each table has candles.
There is one private area, a cage with a larger table. We met a group of American women, whose husbands work in the UK, who make weekly wine outings to places in England. They chose Gordon’s today. We were fortunate to meet those lovely and funny ladies. Melissa Alger and Purdue grad Beth Van Volkinburg are part of the “Wednesday Wine Time Women” group that enjoyed wine, laughs and conversation in the cage at Gordon’s.
They also joke about their group’s other acronym, “AWOL” (American Women on the Loose).
After our midday wine experience we jumped in a cab for a short drive to Buckingham Palace where we photographed the exterior and did some promo shots. We knew the Queen wasn’t home because the monarchy flag was replaced by the Union Jack.
After a short stay at Buckingham Palace, we took a cab to the Tower of London, perhaps the most important castle in England. There is so much history. The crown jewels are located inside and it’s the place where our cabby said three queens were beheaded. The Tower of London is located along the Thames River and near the spectacular Tower Bridge.
Our final story of the day was Sherlock Holmes. The fictional detective is realizing a rise in popularity in Britain because of the wildly successful BBC series. Most Americans either read Arthur Doyle’s books or saw Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal on the big screen. But this is London. Sherlock Holmes has a special connection here.
221b Baker Street is often called the most famous address in the world because that was Doyle’s fictional address for Holmes and Watson. We drove to Baker Street to visit the Sherlock Holmes museum. The sign above the museum door is 221b Baker Street. There was a big crowd of Sherlockian fans buying souvenirs and walking up three flights of narrow stairs to see a recreation of the Holmes’ bedroom, study and other rooms.
We took another cab near Trafalgar Square where the Sherlock Holmes restaurant is located. We met several members of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London. These people are passionate Sherlockians, know every detail of the books and movies and have become huge fans of the BBC series. They attend lectures on Sherlock Holmes, plan trips to sites in the novels and can easily recite facts and passages from the books. We talked about Sherlock Holmes in the Sherlock Homes restaurant while enjoying cheese fries, fish and chips and a glass of beer.
Now we’re back at the hotel lobby, sitting at a table with a computer downloading video clips onto hard drives. We will likely be up past midnight again with little time to sleep. Thursday we catch a 7am train to the southwest tip of England. While you are sleeping, we will be taking a six hour train ride to Penzance.
Good night from London!