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She Enjoys London for Less

Browsing is free...

It was really hard to resist all London's wonderful winter sales that take place every January. In order to keep travel costs to a minimum, we satisfied our urge to splurge with the purchase of only a very few tiny souvenirs. Instead we learned about British style and products by browsing through museum gift shops, the food hall at Harrods, the shelves at Boots Druggists and the magazine racks at Waterstones. Hamleys, one of the world's largest toy stores was an absolute delight to explore -- perfect for the child in each one of us! (188-196 Regent Street). It was there that I bought a Thomas the Tank Engine zipper pull for £1 and a mini book called ' Mummy Laid an Egg!' at the new Tate Museum for £1.50 ( We had loads of fun and finished the day with our budgets intact.

Museums are free...

We visited museums galore -- each one more interesting than the next. Entry to the main collections was always free. The only costs were for special exhibits that the museums were offering. Those fees ranged from £8 for a Reuben exhibit at The National Gallery to £6 to see the photography of American Diane Arbus at the Victoria and Albert. On a budget? Just skip those extra choices and seek out all the other fashion, architecture, art, doll houses and ceramic displays plus much, much, more that have no entry fee at all. You can be busy for days and never see all that is on offer. P.S. If you're interested in knitting, look into the information at the V & A. You'll be a very happy Journeywoman!

A woman's library...

Check out the Women's Library situated on Old Castle Street (Aldgate East Tube stop). Their unique collection of female-centered research material includes topics ranging from women's rights and the suffragettes to cookbook collections along with the journals of women travellers who journeyed the world long before it was fashionable to do so. The present exhibit (until August 26 2006) entitled 'What Women Want: Stories from The Women's Library' sounds like it can be most informative and great fun as well. Miss that one and there'll be others that follow. Hours: Mon-Fri: 9:30-5:30, Sat: 10:00-4:00. Website:

Our final big splurge...

It rained our last day in London. Though the light drizzle did not deter us from our morning sightseeing, by the afternoon our toes were cold and we were running out of steam. Suddenly, like a mirage in the distance appeared the Savoy on The Strand. Opened in 1889 this venerable, grand hotel is still one of 'the' addresses in London. It's posh, posh, posh and every afternoon formal high tea is served in their lush art deco Thames Foyer. At £28 per person ($US49.30/$CAD57.30) it's definitely a great big splurge and that's exactly why we chose it. Afternoon tea is a ritual in Britain so why not participate in one of the classiest? After all, history tells us that this is where Noel Coward performed, Caruso sang and Pavlova danced in Cabaret. The Savoy has an extensive tea menu, including a fine selection of natural and decaffeinated teas. We were free to test as many types as we liked. A three-tier plate laden with goodies was placed on our table. The lowest level contained a selection of tiny, tasty sandwiches (smoked salmon, stilton and apple, hummus); layer two was filled with tantalizing, miniature cakes and pastries. On the top layer sat a variety of fresh, warm scones accompanied by strawberry jam and thick, heavenly, clotted cream. Formally dressed waiters circled the room ready to refill your goodie supply as requested. Need more smoked salmon? Want more éclairs? Just ask and it was presented with a gracious smile. Oh my goodness it was wonderful! We never felt rushed and were free to remain and unwind for as long as we wished. With the tinkling of a piano in the background, Marilyn and I surveyed the scene and reminisced about all the fun we'd packed into the last five full days in London. We also calculated how we would spend the extra holiday money we'd saved by skillfully balancing penny pinching with a few calculated splurges. We were JourneyWomen who'd learned our lessons well. P.S. Dress code at the Savoy is smart casual attire. We wore pants and a turtleneck and that was adequate. Reservations are generally recommended: + 44(0)20 7420 2356 or email:
Enjoy everybody!

Editor's Note: The Savoy closed to undergo a £100 million restoration. The hotel will reopen some time in 2010.

A travel guide to consider…

Two members of the Journeywoman Network, Polly Boline and Barb Chesley have written, ‘You Go Girl, London – A Travel Guide Just For the Girls.’ The back cover of their guide reads, ‘See the sights women like. We highlight the top historical sights, museums, shopping, eateries and theatre.’ To whet your appetite, the following is an excerpt from their female-centered guide book …

The Diana Memorial Walk
‘This was the first permanent memorial to Princess Diana following her death. The walk is seven miles long and winds through four of London’s most beautiful parks, linking places that were important in the life of Diana. The walk is marked by circular plaques that have been set into the walkways. These plaques point the way to the next site on the walk. A wonderful place to start is at her final home, Kensington Palace.’ To learn more visit:

Read lots more about London





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