A Travellerspoint blog

Sharing London With Good Friends

Meeting up with good friends on our last day in London

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Our last day in London was going to be busy, we were meeting our friends Jocke and Eva Alspund from Sweden. Jocke and our daughter-in-law-Bekki are cousins. I’ve written about them before, we met on Facebook, then in Finland 2 years ago and then in London last year. We have enjoyed meeting up with them although when they were in California, we were in Toronto so we missed having them over.

Jocke and Eva were not due in until about 3 so we had some time. In the morning we packed most everything up so we wouldn’t need to spend time on that as we knew it would be a late night. We’d planned to do the Jack the Ripper walk then eat dinner at the Swan at the Globe Theater at 10 pm.
Dale and I went walking to the Globe looking for last minute presents then over to the Borough market for a meal to split. We found books for ourselves and our favorite Ethiopian food at the market. I also found some gluten free mince tarts.

We met Jocke and Eva in the lobby of the hotel and as we were all a bit hungry decided that we’d go to the Christmas market to buy some glogg and Raclette over potatoes, another favorite. We sat and ate and talked. The weather was getting worse but we had over an hour to spare before the walk so we headed up to Oxford Street to see the Christmas lights.
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When we got to Oxford Street, Eva’s rain jacket had soaked thru in places and we were all cold. We ducked into a store and headed for the café. Most of the large stores have cafes. We sat down with coffee and revised our plans. Forget the walk, have dinner earlier then go to one of our rooms and have some cake and wine, and for me either tart or cake from Harrods.

I called the Swan and moved our reservation to 8 pm, then we got started on the walk to the Swan. We did stop for some presents at one other store then rushed to the Swan making it a few minutes late but they still had our table.

The Swan is a wonderful restaurant overlooking the River Thames and on to St. Pauls. It is a favorite but since it is a little pricey we can’t eat there every day. But the 4 of us had a great visit and had great food.
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More visiting in Jocke and Eva’s room with wine and cakes. We discussed our future travel plans, but they will not be able to make it to London next year, so we will try to make it to Sweden. Jocke told us about a castle that we’d love that they really like and that we should visit. We also made some tentative plans to meet in Canada, on a road trip that we have all independently wanted to make, all the way to St. Johns.

There is always something in the works!

We woke up early for a change, had breakfast and said goodbye to Jocke, Eva and London. Until next year!
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Posted by Miss Chris 08:16 Archived in England Tagged london walking travel international_travel swan_at_the_globe Comments (0)

The London Eye and Westminster Abbey

First a ride on the London Eye and then a tour and Evensong at Westminster Abbey

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Finally, a free day in England.

We’d planned to go to Stonehenge and Avebury today. I wanted to see both sites but without a car, we needed to take a tour. A tour would have been fine except that strong winds and flooding rains were predicted for today. We opted to skip the sites one more time and hopefully will see them next year.

We decided to go to Westminster Abbey and to get there we must walk along the river to the Westminster Bridge. As we got to the London Eye we saw that there was no line. We decided to take a ride before continuing to the Abbey especially since the sky had cleared up some.

Wow, what an amazing ride. The cars do not stop except for handicap persons, otherwise, it is a continuous, slow ride. We couldn’t see the tower but could identify where Buckingham Palace was located and of course, many areas where we have walked every day.
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After the ride, we went on to Westminster Abbey for a tour. We signed up for the 2 pm tour, taking the audio tour in the interim. We got to see some of the Abbey while we waited.

Unfortunately, there are no photos allowed in the Abbey so one must rely on the website or books. But the abbey is an amazing place. As death masks were made of many people buried there, the sculptures are quite realistic. If you are going to the Abbey, I’d really recommend that you take the guided tour. You get into places that you wouldn’t otherwise.

After the tour, it was already nearly 4 pm. We wanted to eat something small in the Café but it was closed so we went to the cloisters and had bananas and trail mix that we’d brought. It was really cold and raining in the garden outside of the cloisters but as they are from the year 1,000 or so, it was such a historic place to sit. We ate then went into the Nave to wait to be seated for evensong.
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A large crowd gathered behind us but we’d been told to wait there and we’d be seated first. Well, we were not seated first as the crowd was from a school. We were told to go and wait off to the side. We waited until all of the people invited from the school had been seated. We couldn’t see where they were seated as we were on the front side of a medieval screen. Once we were let in we were pleasantly surprised as we and a few others in our group were let into the unoccupied bishop chairs, by the choir, while the members of the school group were seated outside of the choir area.

We’d heard that the full Westminster choir would be singing and they were. Boys from 9-11 and older people to fill out the harmony. The organ was right above us. It was a really nice way to spend a cold evening.

We stopped at the Christmas market for our glogg and another round of steak and fries and lamb and fries. We went into a nearby building with tables set up to sit and eat and drink when we saw a young couple with a young child looking for a table. As ours would seat 4 we told them to sit at our table. Turns out they were from Saudi Arabia.

We have never met anyone from that country so it was great to get to talk to them. We didn’t ask political questions as there are too many issues today but we discussed things that were important to them as a person, their child, and what they were doing in London.

After eating we went back to the hotel, full of food, glogg and adventure.

Posted by Miss Chris 13:59 Archived in England Tagged london london_eye walking travel westminister_abbey international_travel Comments (0)

One More Performance, Les Mis

Shopping at Hamleys and then Les Miserables at the Queens Theater

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We had a few stops to make today before this evenings performance.
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I had to get to a camera shop. Just before we left home I found that my lens cover was missing. It had been getting loose and falling off when bumped so it was likely on the ground somewhere. We couldn’t find one at home so thought we’d wait until London. In the meantime, I’d been taking off the clear protective lens, shooting photos then putting that lens back on. Then I found that the last time I’d put the clear lens onto the polarizer lens I’d jammed it so that the 2 were stuck together. Each Dale and I tried to separate them but to no avail.

We found a camera shop close to other places we were heading. I showed the person behind the counter my poor stuck lenses but he could not separate them either. He suggested that it would likely be cheaper to buy a new polarizer and clear lenses rather than try to have them separated. Alas. They did have a lens cover that fit my camera, I put the stuck together lens in our backpack, put the cover on and we went on our way. It was cloudy anyway so the polarizer lens wasn’t going to help.

We popped into an Irish pub and had some dinner before heading on to Hamley’s, a 5-story toy store. There we so many things our grandkids would like but we only wanted to buy some small items, as luggage space would be at a premium plus, everything the big kids would like was pricy and we could likely buy the same items at home. But it was fun, there were things that even we would like to play with.
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We stopped once more at Selfridges to see about other gloves for me but they didn’t have what I wanted. We took another look around, shot a couple more photos then went off to our next and last performance, Les Miserables at the Queens Theater.

The Queens Theater was within walking distance and an enjoyable walk as the Christmas decorations were lighting the way.

We got to the Queens Theater in plenty of time. I’d brought my heels along but then was too lazy to change shoes. So there I was dressed up with trail runners on. I didn’t look to see if anyone cared because I didn’t.
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I was hoping that Dale would enjoy Les Miserables. I’d only seen it on a PBS special. I’d donated money and gotten the DVD but never watched it. Dale had only heard the music that I’d play when it would pop up on Facebook.

I thought our seats were nosebleed, but because we were only 2 rows back, the entire stage was visible as was the orchestra pit. The music was wonderful in person and both of us were so moved. The story is timeless, it’s the same old issues even today; ill-conceived wars, love, life, and death. Hopefully, we will get to see it again next year. But we will try to read the book before then.

We walked back to the hotel, stopping for glogg and sipping it as we walked.

Posted by Miss Chris 08:33 Archived in England Tagged london walking travel les_miserables international_travel queens_theater Comments (0)

The Tower then Royal Albert Hall

A quick free trip to the Tower then another concert, this time at Royal Albert Hall.

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1st a walk to the Tower of London. Last year I’d missed seeing where Anne Boleyn lost her head and since I’ve read several books on the wives of Henry the 8th I did want to see both where she lost her head and where she was buried. We knew that we wouldn’t have much time at the Tower as we were getting a late start but, thought we’d do a Beefeater’s tour.

We got to the ticket window and got into the shortest line. As we stood there the woman in front of us turned around and asked if we had tickets yet. We said no so she asked if we wanted to go in with her and her friend. We didn’t know if it was a joke or true, but, apparently, she had 4 tickets and 2 friends did not show. So we went in with our new friends, free of charge. We offered to buy the tickets but she said no that it was a gift from someone in England.
IMG_20181125_143351222.jpg Where Anne Boleyn lost her head, along with Catherine Howard and several others.
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We went straight to the 1-1/2 hour tour, which gave us some history and ended up in the chapel where Anne Boleyn was buried.

We then had to go see the Crown Jewels, they never fail to impress! I did find a nice tiara in the Crown Jewels shop to wear at our next party since they wouldn’t loan me the real ones.

We had a concert at the Royal Albert Hall which was going to be over 1-hour walk, hence, we got a cab from the Tower. We had booked a table for 5 pm at the Coda Restaurant, this is on the 5th floor of the hall.

We did not realize that we’d need to show our tickets before entering the Coda, and having just exited the taxi, we were not ready. I set the backpack down along with my cashmere sweater and after removing some items to access the tickets asked Dale to put stuff back in the pack while I took care of getting our tickets scanned. We gathered our stuff and went up to the Coda.

When we got into the restaurant and left our coats I realized that my sweater was not with me. We got seated then Dale ran down to see if my sweater was still there. He found that he was unsure which entrance we used. He was sent to the lost and found who assured him not to worry as it would turn up.

The Coda is a very elegant restaurant and the food was fabulous as well. After dinner, we shared a dessert and had a coffee, then needed to get down to our seats. I bought the tickets some time ago and forgot where they were located so we were pleasantly surprised to find that we were close to the stage, far enough back to have a full view.
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This concert was the Classical Spectacular, the final concert of the classical series. It consisted of several excerpts from music that we are familiar with and mostly fun pieces. As it turned out, this concert was just fun! Some of the pieces we heard were: Jupiter from the Planets, Waltz of the Flowers and Finlandia.
https://www.royalalberthall.com/tickets/events/2018/classical-spectacular-2/

The orchestra started to play Pomp and Circumstance, which we all know is played at graduations. Dale and I were stunned when the crowd belted out, at the top of their lungs, words and waved the British flag. We never knew there were words, much less that people would be singing so gustily. They were having such a good time that they not only sang it once but twice and then again later. We found that it is called Land of Hope and Glory.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2-43p3GVTQ
It was the same thing with Rule Britannia, the crowd sang their hearts out. The 2 opera singers who we sang along with were wrapped in British flags. We decided that this is really the way to sing instead of having someone reach high notes and see who can hold them the longest. Next year we must know the words and have our flags at the ready. The attached site is of the Spectacular Concerts several years ago, to show the enthusiasm and fun.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2iLA3h_u60

At the end of the program the 1812 Overture was played with cannons and guns shooting, colored lights flashing, and at the end, balloons were released from the ceiling.
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After the show, we went to lost and found but my sweater had not been turned in. We said that we’d call to check back. We exited the Hall and Dale remembered that someone told him that we had likely entered thru Door 9. We went to that door but it was locked and a security guard was there. I looked in thru the window and there on a chair, my sweater was hanging, all by itself. I told the guard, “that’s my sweater”. I then opened my coat to show him the cashmere dress I was wearing that matched. He let me in to get my sweater and we went on our way.

Wow, what a show and what a day!!!

Because we had to take a taxi back to the hotel there was no glogg. We had to settle for our own wine and some cakes from Harrods to finish our day.

Posted by Miss Chris 09:03 Archived in England Tagged london travel royal_albert_hall international_travel the_tower anne_boleyn Comments (0)

1 Night, 2 Concerts in London

A dinner in a Crypt, Mozart and Rachmaninov

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After a full day of walking yesterday, we were tired and decided that with 2 concerts tonight, back to back, we’d take it a bit easy.

We have never been to Westminster Abbey so decided to stop there to see about visiting the following day. Of course, we had to stop at the Christmas Market on the way to Westminster for some Glogg!

We stopped at Westminster but decided not to enter as we didn’t want to rush. We had a look at the gift shop, bought a few little things then, because we were hungry went on to St. Martins. As we walked outside, helicopters were circling then along came a protest, people protesting fossil fuels, food additives and things artificial. We joined the march for a bit.
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We got to St Martins in time to eat dinner in the Crypt below the church. Fish pie with mash on top, veggies and potatoes with a glass of red wine. We were stuffed.
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We had 2 candlelight concerts, 1st at 7 pm was several pieces, most very familiar and some just fun then after the interval we heard Mozart’s Requiem. We’ve heard the Requiem in Vienna twice but this was a smaller church and, there were 2 choirs singing. It was very moving and amazing, especially being in the 1st row.
https://www.stmartin-in-the-fields.org/

Then at 9:30 we heard the Rachmaninov Vespers, this was a 1-hour concert. Dale says that I have heard the music before, as many nights he puts on music for our enjoyment. I didn’t remember the music but most of it was very beautiful.

It was a cold but beautiful night to walk back.
We walked a total of 3.9 miles. Not bad for being lazy!

Posted by Miss Chris 15:59 Archived in England Tagged food london walking travel international_travel st_martins_in_the_field Comments (0)

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