Monday, December 03, 2007

Taking Tea with Tut

This is my final post about my trip to London and I'm almost as sad as I was when I had to get on a plane to come back here. Particularly since yesterday it snowed here in New York! Then it rained, so apart from the Parks, all the pretty snow is now gone. Thank god, I have a Payless two blocks from my house, because I was completely snowshoeless.

So my last day in London, I headed out to North Greenwich to see the King Tut exhibit. Yes, I could have gone to Philadelphia to see the exhibit as one of my co-workers so helpfully pointed out, but I wanted to see King Tut in London since it was an Englishman Howard Carter who discovered the tomb in 1922.

One of the things I love about London is the subway system, which they fondly call 'the tube.' I think it's the best system in the world, certainly better than New York's where any given weekend, either a train is not running or there are changes due to track work. In London, they helpfully give you details every morning about how well the trains are running. Plus, not only do they let you know how long you have to wait until the next train (which they do in DC as well) but they also tell you how long it will take you to get to a certain station. So I knew it would take me 19 minutes to get to North Greenwich.

The exhibit was held in something called the O2 which looked kind of like the Millenium Dome. In fact it may just be the Millenium Dome, if so, good for them for finding another use for it. It's now a concert venue, along with several restaurants and two Starbucks. It kind of reminded me of Universal City in LA, except without the theme park. The line to get into the exhibit was incredibly long, and they search your bag twice, just in case, somehow you managed to make a bomb in between the first time someone checked your bag.

It wasn't quite as crowded inside, but the exhibit could have been spread out a little more to maximize the impact. Still, it was pretty impressive, I have to say, and I'm glad that I've seen it. The exhibit traced not just King Tut but gave you information about his lineage back to Ahkenaten or Amenhoetep, along with pertinent information on what it was like to be a Pharoah. The end of the exhibit they talked about what caused Tut to die so young. The myth that he was murdered by a blow to the head has been debunked, but it appears that he may have taken a fall, and blood poisoning set in, or a blood clot.

I roamed through the gift shop but given the exchange rate, I quickly concluded that I could just wait until I returned and buy stuff off the National Geographic web-site since they were one of the sponsors of the exhibit. Seriously earrings that I know cost $30 in the States, were twice that in the UK.

I saved the best for last on this trip. As a special reward, I took myself off to the Berkeley Hotel for their Pret a Port tea. I love to do Afternoon Tea when I'm in London. Over the years, I've head tea at the Savoy, Brown's Hotel, The Dorchester, the Waldorf, the Lanesborough, Claridges, the Ritz, and Harrods. There's something so 19th Century, about taking time out of your day to sit down and have tea, with lovely little sandwiches and snacks.
The Pret a Port tea though tops them all. The conceit behind this Afternoon Tea is that all the sweets are designed to look like outfits from the latest London collections. The pictures here are from the current Pret a Port tea. I can tell you that they were just as yummy as they look, although I hated to eat them, they were that pretty. I also had a glass of Laurent-Perrier champagne to wash everything down. Hey, champagne is the drink of life as far as I'm concerned.
The tea was served in the Caramel Room which was this lovely room off the lovely decorated in the most luxurious shades of brown. The wait-staff couldn't have been lovelier, and my table had a little placecard with my name on it, which I kept. I thought about keeping the menu but I thought that might seem a little tacky. I can tell you that there were about ten treats that were served, which was out of proportion to the amount of sandwiches! Still it was enough to fill me up.
I ended the day by heading to the National Theater to see a production of Women of Troy by Euripides.
So that's my trip to London in a nutshell.
Thanks for reading,

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