Friday, August 2, 2013

More in London

Today a crazy thing happened-- at least for this Oregonian. When we woke up it was cloudy, overcast and slightly drizzling-- and I was so happy and thankful!! (Bet you never thought you would see that!) After the heat of the day before, the cool overcast morning was a welcome relief. Hallelujah for clouds! It warmed up by afternoon, but I enjoyed the cool while it lasted. 

We had a quick breakfast at our hotel and then toured the State Apartments at Buckingham Palace. 
After a look in the queen's backyard, er, uh, royal gardens, we walked out to the front of the palace near Victoria monument. We made it just in time to catch the last few minutes of the Changing of the Guard ceremony. 
We walked along St James Park to Tragalgar Square. After watching tourists get their pictures taken on the huge lion statues we walked north, stopping to take a peek in St Martin-in-the-Fields church. Then we kept walking towards Covent Garden, stopping at Dishoom- a delicious Indian restaurant- for lunch. 

We meandered our way through various street performers (including a floating yoda, a floating man balancing only on a stick he was holding on the ground
and a magician trying too hard to be funny tied up in chains.

I took Megan's picture in front of the clock tower featured in the opening scene of My Fair Lady.  
We browsed the many stalls and shops-- from a kitchen gadgets store featuring dolls with cheese grater skirts to the cutest store full of teapots, tea accessories and loose leaf teas of all types. 

We made the mandatory stop at Ben's Cookies (one of Jen's London favorites) -- so good! The triple chocolate cookie with cold milk is the stuff of after-school snack dreams.

We then waited at a bus stop to catch the second half of our Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour from the day before. We breezed through The City and financial district and then hopped off at The Tower of London to catch the views of Tower Bridge. We weren't going to go to the Tower of London (I had been before), but after being there we decided we needed to make it there (unfortunately they had already ended all the tours for the day). 
We took the tube back to St. Paul's (including a two-station loooong transfer), arriving hot, sweaty and panting just in time for the Evensong service (yes, it's true that we were trying to avoid paying $22.50 just to get in to see the place and not just zealously displaying our 'Anglican' devotion). The service was a great opportunity to sit and enjoy the cathedral (and did I mention sit?), but unfortunately the choir wasn't singing that day. :(
We went back to our bus tour to catch the remaining highlights. Here is the clock tower with Big Ben. 

Houses of Parliament (from the bus). 

We then made our way through Kensington to Royal Albert Hall for a BBC Proms concert. It featured the world premiere of a new work ("Cosmic Dance" by Narsh Sohal) and an amazing performance of Rachmaninoff's 3rd piano concerto.
We were in the choir behind the stage so we got to look at the conductor over the shoulders of the musicians. This was especially cool during the world premiere work-- it had a lot of percussion and we were looking right over the shoulders of the percussionists. From at position, it seemed more like a ballet than a musical work. You could see each musician moving in their turn. We also had a fantastic view of the pianists hands during the concerto. 

Apparently in London you have to pay $6 to get a printed program. Not needing extra paper, I decided to pass. Having a mystery pianist isn't the end of the world, right? It wasn't until later we realized that because of our lack of program we left early and missed the Tchaikovsky symphony played during last 45 minutes of the concert (apparently there were two intermissions, not one and it didn't end at 9:30pm -- oops). 

After the concert-- er, uh, second intermission-- we hopped on a bus that took us to Notting Hill Gate and then back on the tube to our hotel for a quick wi-fi connect with the world back home before going to sleep. 

1 comment:

shannon said...

Love Dishoom! Never had a Ben's Cookie. Guess I should try one.