This afternoon we planned to dash over to the London Zoo for an hour or two. I read in my guide that the closest station is Baker Street (just a few steps from Sherlock Holmes' home, which we passed on the way). Baker Street is only three stops from Paddington, so I thought “easy”!
But when we got there we found out we needed to take a bus from the station to the Zoo. But we couldn't find the bus stop, despite asking a very nice man in a policeman's costume standing outside 221B Baker Street (as it happens his information was wrong so clearly he's not a real policeman!). The fake policeman told us it was a quick 5-10 minute walk to the Zoo through Regent's Park and Primrose Hill (I was half expecting to see Jude Law any moment, who lives in the area apparently). It is a lovely walk through Regent's Park but more like 20-30 minutes! London has many quite wild spaces close to the city, which help to make it a really liveable city. If you've had enough of the crush on the Underground coming home from work (which we experienced on the way home from the Zoo) you can escape to the top of a hill or the middle of a meadow.
Finally we arrived at the Zoo. Forgetting our sore feet for a moment, it was worth it. I have never been to a zoo when it is pretty much empty of people. Because we got there so late there were no crowds at all. So we could get up close to all the animals (except for the ones that bite). London Zoo has some spectacular new display habitats, including Tiger Territory (with two tigers) and Gorilla Kingdom (with five gorillas, one of which looked incredibly unimpressed with us as we looked at him). It also has some lovely old buildings, including the Reptile House and the Aquarium.
Oliver had lots of fun and it was interesting to compare the animals on display with those at Taronga Zoo. Both beautiful old institutions. An afternoon well spent.
Tomorrow we will catch up with Martin Conway again and we'll attempt to fit a tour of Chelsea Stadium and The Tower of London into one day.