Sunday, May 28, 2017

This Past Week - London and Back Again

So, the pace of travel for work this year has really picked up, in case it isn't obvious!  This past week was quiet on the blog because I left for London (and returned to Hong Kong) in less than a week.  Doing a long haul flight like that leaves you kind of disoriented, because days take on an elasticity that warps your sense of time and space. 
Tower Bridge and some fountains in the forefront.  Brilliant blue skies and puffy white clouds everywhere!
The beginning of my week felt incredibly, indelibly long (because with the waking hours in Hong Kong plus the overnight flight plus the seven hour time difference, my days had magically expanded to what felt like 40 hours instead of the usual 24) and then the end of my week felt astonishingly short (when I woke up in Hong Kong after a 12 hour flight to evening when it was also evening where I left).

As with most work trips, I had no chance to do any sightseeing or enjoy much of the city, but I was again blessed with amazing weather and my heart just sang with joy at how majestic and historic the city of London is.  As strange as it may sound, on one of the mornings when I took the tube and then walked to work I couldn't help but give a huge sigh of content at the rhythm and coordination of the morning commute (surely because I only had to do it two or three times, as opposed to every morning).  When experienced only occasionally, it feels both primordial and modern when you slip unrehearsed into the stream of traffic and human hoofbeats. 

Here are some pictures I managed to snap while walking or transiting around the city.
St. Paul's
St. Paul's from another angle

Free smiles!  Cute corner card shop
The city - big buildings and construction galore

London transit museum
Covent Garden

Shake Shack in Covent Garden
The most glorious seafood window display

Byron Hamburgers, seen all over town
Lion King - how I wish I had time for a show!
The Savoy Hotel - Embankment entrance

The Savoy Hotel - Art Deco at its finest

Victoria Gardens
Kids playing ping pong outdoors just because

London Eye in the distance
Golden Jubilee Bridge in the distance

Waterloo Bridge
 I stayed at the Corinthia Hotel this time for its proximity to my office, and it was lovely.  Quiet and with the most amazing (though very deeply underground) spa... I wish I had some time to try the sleep pods and the soaking pools.
The hotel room felt a bit like an apartment, with its wood doors and carpeted hallways and foyer when you stepped inside.
Immediately ahead was the walk in closet, and then to the left was the bedroom and desk area.
Then the right was the huge bathroom with soaking tub and shower and separate toilet (with bidet).  Very European but also comfortable and spacious.  The floors were heated, which was a very luxurious touch.
 I loved the spa facilities, though I couldn't take many pictures.  I used the gym on one day and enjoyed the shower facilities, but didn't have a good chance to try out the marble beds, the soaking pools, the steam or sauna, the swimming pool... much less a treatment.  Alas.

All over London, there were a lot of people out and about, bicycling around (you forget how common bicycles are in other cities when you live in Hong Kong), sitting outside dining al fresco, or jogging along the Embankment.  It was a great time to be there weather-wise, but the mood was somewhat somber given the Manchester bombing.  London went into high alert while I was there.  I didn't notice any perceptible change in people's activities but it was definitely a topic on everyone's hearts and minds.
Last shot of central London on my way out of the city - good ole' Big Ben standing sentry.
And there you have it - my whirlwind trip.  I found myself in the Cathay lounge, eating dim sum and noodles, thinking longingly of home.  Sometimes the best part of going away is coming back.

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