We left our hotel in Positano and drove for an hour and a half to the Naples Airport on Friday. The weather was clear and cool. The Naples airport is small and easy to get around. Security was quick and we ended up at our gate with much time to spare. The intercom continuously is broadcasting flights and flight departures with gate changes in Italian and English. The door alarm would go off for no reason. Frantic calls to someone and it would go off. An elderly man was in a wheel chair, alone, nearby. Lita noticed he was upset and security people were there talking to him. He had missed his flight to London and began crying. I felt sorry for him, but they arranged for him to go out on the next flight which was ours. I went over to ask if I could do anything or get anything. He declined. Another woman bought him a bottle of water and when it was time to go another woman went over until they came to get him to load him early.
We boarded the plane by walking up long steps. Lita had a sore knee so it was hard for her. The flight was pleasant enough with a light lunch, but it takes over three hours and it's tiring. We landed at Gatwick and had to wait for our luggage for a long time. Our driver was waiting, but the drive was difficult. It was Friday and there was an accident on the highway so we had to go through residential areas. We saw the poor neighborhoods and the rich ones. People everywhere and all the women were either pregnant or pushing baby carriages. It took two hours to get to our hotel. and it was a difficult trip with lots of stop lights.
We are staying at the Connaught, an old established English hotel that went through a two year renovation so I was disappointed to find the entire street area in front of the hotel torn up with constructions signs and barriers. Not a good first impression. The young man who checked us in didn't help by suggesting we up grade to a very expensive room. It was as if he was selling something. Worse he was not well informed about such things as the time for brunch. At our very lovely, large and adequate room our "butler" (he actually is responsible for the entire floor) was dressed in a formal tux with tails, but didn't know the room very well. I had to find the room safe as he couldn't find it.
After unpacking we went down for a drink. The small formal bar is a mix of decor as if they weren't sure if it was old or modern. However, I wasn't thrilled with the "bar champagne" – glass – they poured for Lita as the charge was $28 pounds. I'm glad she didn't ordered something special. We ate in the formal dining room. It was not only expensive, I was prepared for that, but disappointing. The menu is French and the chef apparently is conducting experiments on people that eat there by the strange combinations of foods offered. My fish, which was undercooked, was hidden with a covering of strange items that concealed it's true identity. I have eaten in the best restaurants of Paris and like good French food, but this was not traditional French food. A disappointing experience, especially after paying the bill, since we had not ordered a bottle of wine or even had desert, yet it was close to the national debt. Worse then that, I left a very generous tip because the service there was attentive and good. later I learned they add 12% as a gratuity to the bill automatically, so it was more generous then I intended.
My clear impression is that the hotel is very lovely and the staff very friendly, but inefficient. It is as if they have just opened the hotel and the staff isn't fully trained yet. Service, in general was slow and incompetent i.e they would forget what was ordered or have to be reminded to bring something ordered. It is as if they all need training on service itself, as they are very friendly and helpful.
On Saturday we split up. I got a taxi to the Victoria and Albert Museum, one of my favorites. The museums in London run by the government are free and are extraordinary. I walked the entire place which is large and several floors. From there I walked to the Science Museum which I also enjoy. I particularly liked the medical section of the history of medicine. From there I took a taxi to the British Museum. A huge place which has wonderful displays. Not only are government museums free and well staffed, but there are many features that make going enjoyable. Portable fold up chairs, TV information stations, even large magnifying glasses to aid in close examination. Museums are the best bargain in the city.
After that, I took a taxi to the Parliament building area. I had lunch a sidewalk cafe. It was staffed by people form India and they were running back an forth. They jumped from the top step from inside and dashed over to tables setting things down or picking them up. A waitress rushed up to me and like a machine gun firing said "what-do-you-want-to-eat? We-are-very-busy-so-you-must-order-right-now" So I did. I then walked about a mile to Buckingham Palace. To get there I walked through the very large park with ponds and lots of people enjoying the 70 degree weather. The walk was pleasant and easy. People were everywhere, but that wasn't a problem in walking. At the palace there were people everywhere. I didn't spend any time there From the Palace I took a taxi back to the hotel. We had afternoon tea. What they bring to eat with the tea would represent a dinner although it is all desert. We drank enough tea for three days and food enough to spoil dinner.
Tonight we are walking to a seafood restaurant and tomorrow morning we return home. I am ready to go home where I plan to mortgage our house to fund our London stay of one and a half days.