Yesterday Tina and I took a train up to the capital city for a day of being tourists and catching a West End show. We drove to Huntingdon station and were soon heading south, seemingly stopping at every station on the way (we must try and time it to get the fast train in future).
We arrived around 11.30 and had a quick look at the refurbished Kings Cross station before heading on the Underground Victoria line to make our way to Leicester Square. We found our favourite discount ticket booth and tried to order tickets for ‘Rock of Ages’, which Tina had mentioned she would like to see for her birthday treat. Unfortunately it was the cast’s day off and the show wasn’t playing so we ordered tickets for our second choice, Sweeney Todd, which was playing at the Adephi Theatre starring Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton.
Once the tickets were sorted, the intention was to take a train ride to Greenwich to visit the newly £50 million refurbished Cutty Sark exhibition, but when I checked online before we set off I found out that the attraction was also closed on Monday’s. Doh!
So what to do?
Tina mentioned she would like to go on an open top bus ride around London, something we’d not done since the kids were small, so after having a bite to eat made our way to one of the many bus stops and paid for a 24 hour hop on hop off pass with the ‘Original London Sightseeing Tour‘ which included a River Thames Cruise in the price. Having previously done these type of tours in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco we do find they are a great way to see places in a relaxing way, with informative and funny commentaries to boot.
We started off the tour from Piccadilly and basked in the glorious weather on the top of the bus, making our way around the various landmarks that make London a great place to visit. The tour guide was a typical Londoner and pointed out lots of buildings and facts that made the journey interesting as we made our way through the city traffic. One fact he did mention was that one of the apartments in the new glass fronted ‘The Shard‘ complex for £55 million (the previous owner had paid £20 million two years ago, not a bad profit if I do say so myself). That one apartment would have paid for the Cutty Sark refurb in one hit!.
Eventually we arrived at the Tower of London where we alighted and headed for a Starbucks to get a well needed coffee.
Now I’m not really a Costa or Starbucks person, I’m happy with a coffee from anywhere so can’t see why these types of places are so popular? Also, the way they take your order then make you wait at the end for your drinks is so annoying, especially when there is only one person making up the beverages. Anyhow, Starbucks was the only place around so we queued to order our Cappuccinos and queued to get the drinks and then sat and contemplated our next excursion.
We decided to use the river cruise tickets and so made our way to the pier where we managed to catch a boat which was just about to leave for Westminster Pier. Again, we sat upstairs and soaked up the sun, listening to the commentary by one of the boatmen, who insisted that his talk was not part of the trip, but all donations would be gratefully received when disembarking.
At Westminster, we bought some water and then made our way across Westminster Bridge and waited for a bus to take us on the tour again. This time we stayed on the bus and went over Tower Bridge and passed the Tower of London before getting off at The Embankment. A quick stroll through to the Strand and we found the restaurant of choice, namely Nando’s. We both enjoy the food and, more importantly they cater for Gluten Free-its. After eating we killed time before the show started by walking along towards Trafalgar Square and then headed to the theatre.
Before long the show started and whilst we both enjoyed the musical, it wasn’t quite what we expected. The performances from leading characters were really good, Imelda Staunton standing out for me as a really great all-round actress/singer. I am not really an opera fan and although the show was not an opera, you had to listen to the words or the songs to get the gist as to what was happening and as I’m lazy in the lyrics front I struggled to keep up. The second half performance was better, especially when Sweeney Todd started killing most of the cast 🙂
One thing I was surprised at was the actions of the theatre staff when anyone took a photo of the stage area. They would rush over to the owner of the camera or camera phone and insist the photo be deleted. Not sure what it achieved but I guess it allows them to sell more programmes.
After the show we got the tube back to Kings Cross and caught a fast train back to Huntingdon.
All-in-all a thoroughly, good, touristy day.
Oh and the reason for the blog title?
Well there was much goings on all around the place; the streets were being prepared for the jubilee celebrations at the weekend, with many film crews already set up in locations in the city. There were loads of union jacks flying and the front of Buckingham Palace was being prepared for an event at the weekend. Also much of the roadworks that we saw back in February in readiness for the Olympic Games had been completed and the place was looking quite tidy. I am still not convinced the transport system is going to be able to cope with the amount of people descending on the capital, but I’m sure it will all turn out fine in the end.