Christmas in London 2007
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Christmas has always been a big event for my family. As a tradition, our clan would gather at our grandparents' house on Christmas eve. Our grandparents have 8 children with a minumum of 3 children each and most are married and have children by now so you do the math on how big this party is. :) My lolo would administer parlor games for the kids like spoon race and Trip to Jerusalem. There's also a program where kids can show off their talents or showcase what they've been studying all year - gymnastics, ballet, singing, what have you. Until I was twelve, I sang every year and got 10-50 pesos from my lolo, and even more from proud ninongs and ninangs. I mostly did Whitney and Madonna songs, like One Moment in Time and La Isla Bonita. Don't ask me how I did it. haha. After the program, we'd have our Noche Buena, where we have pamplina (my lola's specialty), ham, hot chocolate, barbecue, hotdogs, and leche flan.
I missed all that last year because of work.:( I had to be in Ireland because of a project that was going live at the end of the year. However, we had 5 days of official Christmas break so I chose to spend it in London instead of Cork.
I've been to London once before but it was definitely different during Christmas time. It was much colder and pleasantly less busy. The trains were deserted and it was much easier to travel. There were extravagant Christmas decorations everywhere. I stayed at a hostel in Piccadilly (which I have a review for) so it was very central and I was pretty much able to walk everywhere. There was a Funfair at Leicester Square with rides and game booths. How I wished I could get one of those giant toy prizes but I didn't have skills in any of the games to win that. And even if I won, how can I possibly carry it back to Ireland? :p
I also went to Harrod's to check out their 2007 giant teddy bear.
What I really loved about being in London that week was that I was there on the first day of sale of almost every store I love! I was in the Topshop Flagship Store at 10 am and was delighted to see all those racks with sale items. Apparently they were just about to put up the sale signs that morning. Other stores also went on sale like Zara, Mango, Office, Schuh, HMV, etc. It was heaven!:D
I also visited the usual tourist spots like the Houses of Parliament, London Eye, Tower Bridge, Trafalgar Square, and Westminster Abbey.
On Christmas day, everything was closed and there was no public transpo. I just walked to St. Patrick's Cathedral and attended a Christmas service there.
I would say that the highlight of my stay was watching PHANTOM OF THE OPERA at Her Majesty's Theatre. I have fallen in love with the songs from Phantom back in the 80's. I have vowed to watch it someday and more than ten years later, I finally got my chance. The guy who played Phantom was really good! I fell in love with his voice on stage even when he was wearing a mask and all those prosthetics. Later on I saw his pics and he was actually HOT behind that mask! And he's the youngest Phantom ever! I will try to write a separate review on that.
In the end, it was a very different Christmas for me. I called my family in the Philippines while they were having their Noche Buena and upon hearing their voices and the laughter in the background, I knew I was missing out on a lot of things. I would much rather be with them in our simple home in Manila than be in Trafalgar Square or Tower Bridge with no one. London was beautiful alright, but no amount of travel or shopping can ever come close to the joy of being with your loved ones on Christmas day. :)