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Saturday, January 11, 2014

London Baby!

On Wednesday morning, we bid farewell to our friends in Woking and made our way into London.  We could take a train from the Woking station to Victoria Station so it was an easy, quick 30 minutes practically to the door of our hotel, across from Victoria.  We were able to check in early, got upgraded (awesome since the room was paid for by credit card points), and enjoy a warm Doubletree Hotel signature chocolate chip cookie. We could see the Apollo Victoria theater from our window which was cool since this was our first stop.We wanted to get tickets for the 2.30 matinee of Wicked and were hopeful to score some decent last minute tickets.  We knew from a previous visit that the theater releases front row seats for 29 pounds ($48.00) the day of the performance but we also knew that you usually have to get there early in order to secure these.  But on Wednesdays, with the matinee there are more tickets available and not as much demand for the matinee since many folks are working!  So much to our total surprise, when we got to the window at 10.05 a.m. (box office opens at 10.00), and they offered us front row center, we jumped on it!  Couldn't believe our luck!  From there we jumped on a red double decker bus which took us past Hyde Park, Marble Arch, down Oxford Street and eventually to Tottenham Court Road.  We realized we were close to the American International Church where our good friend John works so we decided to pop in and say hello to him and the youth pastor there.  It was great to see them and John was free for lunch so we headed over to the Carpenter's Arms pub, where I enjoyed a great lunch last time we were there.  We weren't all that hungry because we had eaten a little something mid-morning so we ordered the fish and chips to split and John had the ox cheek pie.  I must say, this was indeed the best fish and chips I have ever had.  The outside was crispy and perfectly spiced with apple cider vinegar and tarragon.  I am not even a huge fan of fish and this was delicious!  The green stuff on the side are the classic mushy peas you will find on many plates in Britain!After lunch, it was time for the show, so a quick tube ride back to Victoria got us to the theater on time.  Wicked is just one fantastic show.  I had learned all the music since the last time we saw it and seeing the show again after knowing the story so well was a real treat.  The woman who played Elphaba was absolutely fantastic and we loved taking it all in again.  One of my "in another life" dreams would be to play the role of Glinda in Wicked.  Elphaba is awesome but there's something about Glinda that just makes me laugh! The woman who played her did a great job as well.  The staging is beautiful and clever and I found myself smiling through the entire show!  The magic of theater...it really does stir something in the soul.  Not sure what it is but I loved every minute of this big, beautiful musical.  

After the show, we took a little rest back at the hotel and then decided to head out for a bite to eat before the next show began.  This time we jumped on bus 24, which takes you right into the heart of Westminster...Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, London Eye, up Whitehall, past 10 Downing Street to Trafalger Square where the National Museum and St. Martin's in the Field greet you.When I pass this area of town, I always feel like, OK, now I've been in London!  
For those of you who know us, you know that when we go to London, we eat sandwiches or simple pub meals so that we can spend more money on theater tickets!  You also know that Doug thinks England has perfected the egg salad sandwich so we often find ourselves at Pret A Manger (ready to eat) ordering up sandwiches accompanied by salt vinegar crisps as they say in England.  Chips are fries.  Crisps are potato chips.  Well, this trip was no different.  The little snack we had in the morning was indeed an egg salad sandwich and now with only a few minutes before we needed to be at the theater for the evening show, Pret did not disappoint.  Egg salad and watercress.  It doesn't really get any better than that!  England does the carry away sandwich really well.  I wish Stockholm had more places with a really good, ready made, take away sandwich.  Ah, the delights of England!
The final event of the night was the show Spamalot.   We had been wanting to see this for quite some time, but it left London before we had a chance.  One of the reasons that I gave Doug this trip to London for Christmas was because I saw this show was back. For those of you unfamiliar with the show, it's Monty Python's Quest for the Holy Grail set to music!  It was really funny and super silly!  To enjoy it you must be willing to understand that at least 50% of the show has nothing to do with anything!  Silly is absolutely the best word to describe this clever, funny, enjoyable show.
After the show, we wandered out onto the Golden Jubilee Bridge for a look down the Thames.  The blue lights forming half a circle are the London Eye, lighting up the London sky.It was raining just a little bit so we couldn't linger but I never grow tired of the iconic sites of London.  It's such a fun town with all of the things we love.  It's refreshing to be in a country where you speak the language most of the time!  We love the theater, the cozy pubs, the bustling city life...London baby.  It's one of our favorites.