Saturday, July 5, 2014
Thursday, July 3, 2014
My favorite sandals just bit the dust. Right before the trip, I even had new heels put on.
Now, should I ditch them here in London or have it fixed? I've had them for a long time. Maybe it's time to let them go. Oh, well.
The place we are staying comes with breakfast. It's a continental breakfast. The croissant is very good. There are also make-your-own toasts and cold cerial. All carbs. We supplemented ours with the strawberries and the salami/prosciutto we bought last night. Off to a good start.
Now, I'm not much of a sight-seer. Not interested in touristy stuff much. Nevertheless, we went today to the heart of London tourism and history.
Architecture is amazing. Everywhere you look.
Many buildings are very nicely decorated. This is in the middle of a business district, and that's where the British parliament building, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace all are. Reminds me of Tokyo.
Right next to the building above, sits this modern architecture.
I liked this pretty door.
Buckingham Palace. Was this where thousands of flowers and mourners crowded when Princess Di passed away? Or was that Kensington?? People were waiting for the guard changing ritual.
SO many people! We sat far away to see and enjoy the music the band played and got a glance at them. Once they were inside the gate, they played Queen's "Fat Bottomed Girls"! So regal.
It was lunch time in the business district.
"Prawn Mayo Sandwich" (what we call small shrimp in the US) and "Purifier" juice. We took our lunch to a park and ate it among many London business folks taking their lunch break and a few visitors like us.
Such a nice day. Look at the blue sky. Churchill was there.
So was Nelson Mandela.
The Westminster tube station looked like something out of a SiFi movie scene.
Now. I wasn't so interested in taking a tour of Westminster Abbey. I'm sure its architecture is magnificent and packed with history and art.
A long line outside (this was in the morning) definitely turned me off even more. Being among hundreds of people hurrying inside this beautiful church just wasn't my idea of feeling sacred.
So we stepped inside St. Margaret church adjacent to the Abbey. Quiet and beautiful.
Instead of the highly acclaimed tour, we opted for Evensong service at Westminster Abbey. This is held daily at 5:00, after the Abbey's tour is closed. It is a choral service.
There was a short line at 4:45. Some people thought they were in line for the tour, and they were turned away at the gate by the guide wearing a red cape. If you tell the guide you are here for Evensong service, you are met by a welcome smile and let inside the Abbey's main sanctuary.
It's a 45-minute sweet service filled with choir singing accompanied by the gorgeous organ. I was touched by the beautiful sound the choir, the organist and the acoustic of the building jointly created. Tears.
Now I have a goal. Before I leave London, I want to get there early enough to be seated in the wooden seats normally reserved for the choir. It was only half occupied by the choir and the rest was offered to those who came to the service. That must be truly awesome to sit and listen to the choir in the nave. Most of us were seated on the side. It was still beautiful.
We'll be gone next week, but here's a nice event.
Evensong at the Abbey, I highly recommend for those who are more interested in the activities this place was originally intended for. Since it's a church service, there is no fee charged, though they would appreciate donations. I'd rather do this than paying a fee to take a tour with hundreds of others.
We hopped on the Tube and headed to Leicester Square. Our destination was TKTS which I read about more than once. A discounted day-of-the-show theatre ticket place.
Before we found TKTS, however, we found another, in fact more than a couple other discounted ticket places. I went to the one underground right by the Tube station. Earlier, I went online to see today's listing at tkts.co.uk and found that Wicked ticket prices were actually higher on the day! The demand must be high. So, we thought we'd see something else, and was going to go check it out at tkts. But at this booth by the Tube station, the man looked it up on the computer and told me there are two really amazing seats available for Wicked, so we went for it. He still had to call the theatre directly to confirm and made the sale final.
Seventh row, nearly dead center!
So, fear not, if you are wondering about seeing some shows but didn't buy tickets in advance. I actually looked up some online before I left for this trip and amazed how expensive the tickets were and most good seats were all gone. I would have had to pay a lot of money for really bad seats. Discouraged, almost gave up seeing shows.
HOWEVER, I sat down and thought about it. There are many shows shown daily, some days twice daily. There's got to be some seats "reserved" for high-end hotel concierge or for special purpose that end up not getting used, and they must show up on the same-day discount ticket houses.
After going up on the ground, I found TKTS booth right away and people were lining up. I think it's probably pretty much the same anywhere. They still have to look up on the computer, probably looking at the same database, and have to call the theatre to confirm the seat availability before the sale.
Wicked was truly wicked. Two thumbs up, LB says. "Much better than the story the book offered." --LB. "The actor who played Elphaba was amaaaaazzzzing" --Me. Made me cry several times.
Oh, can't forget this. Tapas for dinner before the show. The seafood salad was very good, and so was sangria.
Besides the flights, train tickets, and lodging, I made no particular plans for this trip. Wanted things to just come up as we go. So far, so good. I hope my posts also serve as a guide for those spontaneous types.
Disclaimer: Excuse my misspelling and grammar -- blogging from iPhone isn't ideal and it's hard!