Stopover in London

London Travel Blog

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Stage at the Globe
Included in my $615 flight to Sicily was a 4-day stopover in London. I arrived on the 21st and hung out with my friends Alister & Fran at their house in Hertfordshire and tried in vain to get my sleeping schedule on track. On the 22nd, Alister was my trusty guide to sights I hadn't seen on my last 2 trips to London (the British Museum) and sights that didn't exist 12 years ago (the Globe Theatre - rebuilt with the Elizabethan plans - exactly as it was in Shakespeare's day - albeit with sprinklers so it doesn't burn down to the ground again!).

We weren't supposed to take photos during the tour of the Globe Theatre, as they were rehearsing for Love's Labours Lost, but somehow my camera, which was already on, managed to somehow go off several times as I was holding it under my coat, and the guide didn't seem to hear the shutter click as I happened to clear my throat as the same time.
Patty and her cider in Nicholson's Pub
; )

Then we went to an old pub (Nicholson's - just outside Blackfriars tube station) so I could get my Ploughman's Lunch with pork pie, cheddar & chutney, and a cider. The pictures I took didn't do the place justice - it really was a gorgeous building inside. After that, a quick jaunt through the British Museum...just enough to see the Rosetta Stone, Greek antiquities, a bit of the Southeast Asia wing and some gorgeous tilework and pottery in the Middle East wing...about an hour and a half and then my attention span (roughly equal to that of a 5 year old child) gave out, so we headed back to Hertfordshire.

That night I was invited to join Alister, Fran and about 20 of Fran's relatives at a dinner at an Israeli/kosher restaurant to celebrate Fran's grandmother's 92nd birthday.
Alister leading the way to the British Museum
Grandma is blonde, in excellent health (except for her memory) and looks about 72. Fran's uncle (a former bank CEO who thankfully retired before the collapse of the financial market) is a hoot - very dry sense of humor. He told us stories of sailing his boat around the world during his retirement, and picked up the tab for the whole dinner - hummus, baba ganoush, falafel, lamb kebabs, steaks, etc. - the food kept coming - but still the requisite (and very British and very yummy) sticky toffee pudding for dessert. Fran's family was very entertaining and I thankfully managed to stay awake (although it was difficult - jet lag kicked in somewhere around the 2nd course).

Fran said her family was actually on good behavior - last time they had dinner altogether the restaurant burned down right after they left! Her grandma doesn't have much in the way of short term memory anymore, so when we walked in she asked if I was Alister's girlfriend.
Fran's grandma's 92nd birthday dinner at Israeli restaurant, Aviv
Fran said, "Great, she forgets her own grandaughter, but asks if her grandson-in-law brought his girlfriend." Oh yeah...one of the cards they bought for Grandma had a cartoon of an old couple dancing, and the old lady says to the old man, "No, I said I have ACUTE ANGINA." Nice.

Today, Alister had school, so Fran took the day off and the 2 of us went window shopping on Portobello Road (antiques, etc.) and then met my college friend Greg. We took to the Underground to the Savoy Hotel for a cream tea (finger sandwiches, scones, etc.), but it was closed for renovations, so we went down the street and stumbled into the very posh Charing Cross Hotel (Greg sent a text and his iPhone changed "Charing" to "Chafing," so we kept calling it the Chafing Crotch), so had our tea there.
Fran & Greg on Portobello Road


The conversation started getting silly when Greg asked our server if she was from the Philippines. She said she was, and Greg said his wife is from the Philippines, and the poor server awkwardly looked over at me, and then Fran, and was genuinely confused. We finally explained that Greg's wife was not at the table and the server looked relieved. Then we asked her to take a photo of us, and she tried to smoosh me into the corner so we'd all be close enough, and she somehow pushed the table so that I was kind of straddling it. We were trying to stifle a giggle and then as she finally focused the shot we noticed she was holding the camera crooked and we just cracked up.

We paid and went into the hallway, and while I went to the ladies' room, some very tall, immaculately dressed guy in a suit came over to Fran and Greg out of the blue and asked if they needed to know where the toilet was, and proceeded to give them very specific directions (whether they wanted them or not).
Tea time gets ridiculous
They told me the story about the well-dressed giant toilet-pointer as we came down the grand staircase, and the poor giant toilet-pointer was sitting in the lounge at the base of the stairs and probably heard the whole thing. Oops.

Greg took off for his tennis match, and Fran and I took off for the Criterion Theatre in Piccadilly Square to pick up our theatre tickets and then grabbed a bite at Tiger Tiger around the corner (which apparently is a big pick-up joint for Jewish singles...but also great food). The play we saw was The 39 Steps - a very tongue-in-cheek version, making fun of the Britishness of it, with lots of references to other Hitchcock films thrown in, and the entire play was done by 4 people performing 150 roles. It was a hoot. And with the last minute ticket service online, we wound up with 2nd row for half price.
Alister, my friend & trusty tour guide


I'm going to try to have a cup of coffee with Charlie, another college friend, before I leave for Gatwick Airport in the afternoon. And then Sicily, here I come!

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Stage at the Globe
Stage at the Globe
Patty and her cider in Nicholsons…
Patty and her cider in Nicholson'…
Alister leading the way to the Bri…
Alister leading the way to the Br…
Frans grandmas 92nd birthday din…
Fran's grandma's 92nd birthday di…
Fran & Greg on Portobello Road
Fran & Greg on Portobello Road
Tea time gets ridiculous
Tea time gets ridiculous
Alister, my friend & trusty tour g…
Alister, my friend & trusty tour …
Me & Alister
Me & Alister
Mad Hatter Hotel (didnt stay here…
Mad Hatter Hotel (didn't stay her…
Pedestrian bridge
Pedestrian bridge
Globe Theatre
Globe Theatre
Seating at the Globe
Seating at the Globe
Globe Theatre entrance
Globe Theatre entrance
Nicholsons Pub
Nicholson's Pub
On the way to The British Museum
On the way to The British Museum
Nicholsons Pub
Nicholson's Pub
The Rosetta Stone
The Rosetta Stone
The Egyptian wing
The Egyptian wing
More Egyptian wing
More Egyptian wing
The Greek wing
The Greek wing
More Greek wing
More Greek wing
Dunno - just liked it
Dunno - just liked it
Dunno - just liked this room
Dunno - just liked this room
Detail of Southeast Asian beaded a…
Detail of Southeast Asian beaded …
Tilework from the Middle Eastern w…
Tilework from the Middle Eastern …
Chain mail goodies from the Middle…
Chain mail goodies from the Middl…
Posh flats
Posh flats
The dining room at the Charing Cro…
The dining room at the Charing Cr…
View from the Charing Cross Hotel …
View from the Charing Cross Hotel…
Tea time gets serious
Tea time gets serious
More tea time
More tea time
Tourists posing by the horse fount…
Tourists posing by the horse foun…
London
photo by: ulysses