London baby!

May 31, 2013

So I’m here in London finally, following a 3 hours delay out of Canada. WiFi isn’t available in the hotel room, without charge, so this might take a few days to post. I have a new image downloader from my camera so hopefully this time I can also include a few pictures.

I love London. I have been here several times although it has been a long time since my last trip; over 8 years in fact. But I’m back, baby! Yeah! London has a lot of history, a lot of architecture, a lot of oh, I don ‘t know – old. There is the “new” of course, which I will seek out this trip too but I really enjoy going through this older city. There’s so much to do in the city alone never mind venturing out to the neighbouring areas that I’m sure I’m going to run out of time to see it all…but I will try!

I’m a non-driver so London is my kind of city with the Tube. It’s amazing how easily it is to get around. There’s a new Oyster pass system and this has made it a lot easier to go from different sites without worrying about tickets expiring. With everything that I have planned to do this time around, I will also get to use the overground systems and the buses – double deckers rule!

So let’s start a little bit with the “new” in London. I went to the London Eye the 2nd day here. From the ground, this is one hell of a Ferris wheel. The interest in it is still huge, which makes line ups long but those of us who don’t like queuing, there’s a fast track pass. It is hard to justify the extra 9 pounds !!! but I didn’t prebook this as I wanted to go on a non-rainy day so there you go, a little extra money spent. I am not normally a fan of the Ferris wheel, I cannot explain it. I can do every kind of roller coaster and wicked spinning, body flipping, high speed reckless ride but a regular Ferris wheel will make me nauseous. This ride goes at a terrible slow speed so I figured I’d be ok (and I was – no vomit story here!). Anyway, my official review will be if you’re coming to London you’ll likely do this because how can you not? However, the capsule is packed with people, it isn’t air conditioned so on a choice sunny day, it gets quite warm inside, and it moves pretty slow. The view is high and you’ll get some great pics of the Parliament building (Big Ben) and the surrounding Thames area. I wouldn’t call it amazing but it was worth doing at least once.

Anyway, back to the whole point of the blog. I, of course, am also in London to visit the Hard Rock Cafe. Now one of the special things about this HRC is that this was the first cafe I ever visited. I hadn’t even been to the one in Vancouver before I visited London. I wasn’t at all a collector back then. I do remember that Planet Hollywood had just opened the same week and I had watched the famous movie stars on the news for the Grand Opening. I waited in a long line to get into the PH cafe that same trip too. I mean, who didn’t want to see the Terminator memorabilia!! I still have the photos! So it was just logical that after going to the PH then I had to go see the original Hard Rock Cafe.

It’s also good to know that my memory isn’t quite failing me yet. The Cafe seemed small back then, particularity after visiting PH and certainly the Cafe hasn’t gotten any bigger. I don’t know if it is the smallest HRC but it’s hard to imagine any new location would have such limited seating. There was an hour wait when I arrived, which was late in the evening, sometime after 8 pm! There were a few people commenting that it was like being in line at a hot new night club. Thankfully, since I’m a Rewards member I didn’t have to wait to get in (anyone sense a theme with me!). I sat up at the counter by the kitchen, which isn’t the most comfortable spot but is certainly lively. The serving staff are friendly and enjoy working here, although that is something I find typical of most cafes. A lot of the London staff have worked at the Cafe for a long time, I believe a few have been here almost from the initial opening, which is pretty cool and unique for most older cafes.

The Cafe has the original memorabilia from Eric Clapton’s Fender guitar to the Mick Jagger puppet from the Phil Collins Land of Confusion video (I still remember when the video first aired!). The rock clock and of course, the first thing I photographed back during my first visit, the no nukes allowed neon sign.

After dinner I went over to the Rock Shop, which is located across the street from the cafe. Which is a good thing cuz it wouldn’t fit in the Cafe! There weren’t any new shot glasses and the anniversary pin isn’t out yet (just my luck!) but I was able to pick up a few thing for other people and of course, I have a swipe for London.

The Rock Shop also has the Vault located down stairs, which is a free tour every 20 minutes or so conducted by a staff member. This time, the tour guide was “Harry”. A super friendly bloke who spins tales that can only be offered as stories that we promised would never leave the Vault. What happens in the Vault, stay in the Vault after all. However, if you get a chance to have a tour from Harry, ask him about getting a pilot’s license and tell him the chick from Canada sent you.

The Vault itself is an actual vault room. Which means, it isn’t huge. There are a number of things in the room that are worth seeing, if you enjoy the memorabilia (and who doesn’t?!). Some of the items do travel from time to time – Jimi Hendricks and John Lennon items apparently disappear for touring for a few years at a time. It made me curious if some of the items on the Seattle tour I just saw might have come from the Vault but Harry wasn’t sure. Although one can only assume and imagine that there are a ton of musical items owned by the HRC that are in storage somewhere, either from closed cafes or stuff that haven’t yet found a home.

Anyhoo, you have about 20 minutes to look over the items all while Harry chats with you and plays guitar. I was lucky enough to be in a small tour – there were only 2 other people with me so we pretty much capitalized our time and were able to take a lot of pictures.

As for pictures, I’m discovering that the WordPress app is not letting me insert them directly so I may have to wait until I get home to fully finish this entry. So stay tuned!

Cheers from London!