4.14.09 Great day in London!

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4.14.09 Great day in London!


Today, we saw the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace, Champagne High Tea at Harrod’s, and went to Les Miserables at the Queens Theatre!  Awesome day!


We took the #3 bus into town, which took about 45 minutes, but provided great views from the double-decker bus (enclosed).  We hopped off at Big Ben, Westminster Cathedral, and the Parliament Buildings, which are all shockingly huge buildings.  We strolled down along St. James Park and happened upon the place Rick Steves told us to go, which was to the Barracks where the band warms up and the new regiment of Guards undergoes their inspection.  There are not many people there and we had great views.  Then once they all marched by, we walked around to the east side of gardens and the horses marched in, so we just happened to be in the right place at the right time.  Fantastic!


Then we walked through Hyde Park and over to Harrod’s, which is like a maze through the many rooms of perfumes and cosmetics to find the Egyption Escalators.  At the Ground floor (or maybe Lower Ground), is the memorial to Princess Diana and Dodi Fayd, her beau.  Dodi’s Dad owns Harrod’s and the engagement ring that he’d bought for the Princess was on display there along with the wine glasses from their last dinner before their fatal accident. 


We made reservations for High Tea after confirming that sharing was okay, provided we did not share on the usual food free refills.  Agreed, of course. 


Harrod’s was huge and the kids enjoyed the toy area and the pet area, particularly the custom doggie cake and treats section- hilarious!


More walking through Hyde Park, by the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, which is like a combo lazy river, fountain park, kids toy sailboat area.  I thought it was very appropriate for a Mum who loved children- beautifully done.


A late lunch at Wagamama Restaurant was delicious and Rick Steve’s advice was spot on.  It was less than 7L for adult meals and 3.50 L for kids- extremely affordable for delicious food in Harvey Nelson’s department store.  There are many other locations throughout the city.  We could become addicted to this Asian noodle restaurant!


By our 3:30 pm tea time, we were still full from lunch.  We ordered just one champagne afternoon tea, two peppermint mint teas, and a hot chocolate pot.  The kids loved the champagne!  Just kidding.  But we did have a fabulous time, beautiful piano music, nice service, and a very fond memory for the 50 L.  At 28L just for the afternoon tea (21 without champagne), I thought we handled it very economically for 4 people.


The “tkts” booth in Leicester Square (“Lester”) had tickets at 5:30 pm for the 7:30 pm show of Les Mis!  How lucky is that!?  So we snagged 34L each seats in rows F and H on the first balcony (normal ticket price 55L each), grabbed some pizza while walking through Chinatown (not the best place for pizza), enjoyed the ambiance of the theatre district, and found our bus pickup location for after the show.


Then we went to Les Mis.  Incredible!  Absolutely wonderful.  Singing that was like listening to a violin hit and hold a perfect note.  Music that made us cry from the sheer beauty and perfection of it.  Not one mistake or bad acting in the entire show.  By the time the show ended, it appeared that quite a few people, male and female, had been crying.  It really is hard to explain how amazing this experience was. 


Twenty-two years ago, I saw Les Mis in London, probably at the same theatre and thought it spellbinding then, but I do believe the singing and acting was even better this time, if that is possible.  The kids were stunned by the whole moving experience.  Lia was sitting forward in her seat the whole time and perfectly quiet.  Yes, it was a shocking time.  I’d explained the storyline to the kids in advance, so that helped them get what was happening and softened the tough blows that happen in the plot.


We staggered out of the 3 hour show at 10:30 pm, into the light that looked like the Las Vegas strip, and made our way amongst other theatre goers to our Regent Street bus location nearby.  It rained on the way home to Crystal Palace and we peered through the night to find our bus stop, making only one false ring too early on the bus bell.  But with help of some ladies on the bus, we were successful.  It was quiet as we hurried the distance back to the campground, our jackets pulled over our heads to keep out the rain.  Stumbling into bed at midnight, we slept with the beautiful Les Mis music singing in our heads.  A lovely first day in London!



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photo by: ulysses