Posted by: rkurzweil | 08/09/2011

London – one more time

Growing up, there were a couple of places that I always dreamed of visiting. London was one of those places. I grew up reading books about Queen Elizabeth I and King Henry VIII. I was always fascinated with that time period in particular.

In 1999, I had the opportunity to go to London for the first time. I had very high expectations about that trip. Unfortunately, the actual trip was not as good as the expectations of the trip. We got to London and (surprise, surprise) the weather was dreadful. It rained every day. I had wanted to go see Phantom of the Opera in the West End, but again was disappointed as there were no unobstructed view seats available during our time in London. We ended up seeing another show, which John loved but I did not care much for.

Meanwhile, through the years since then, I have talked to so many people that just adore London. So I knew that we had to give it another chance. That chance came in April, 2011. We decided to go to London to celebrate our 17th anniversary. Shortly after we made our plans, Prince William and Princess Kate announced their wedding date. As it turns out, we were in London for the week leading up to the wedding. We came home before the wedding took place, though.

Well, what a different trip we had this time. We got off to a bad start with bad weather in Texas which caused us to miss our flight to London and to have to spend the night in Dallas. Ugh! Air travel is so annoying. However, after that, everything worked wonderfully throughout the trip.

We got to London on April 21. We were greeted by the most spectacular weather you could hope for. It was sunny, clear and warm for almost the entire time we were there. We only had rain one time, and it happened to be at a time when we were in our room resting. So the weather never interfered with our plans in any way. Wow – imagine great weather in London. G-d was smiling down on us.

Because of the overnight delay in Dallas, we ended up having tickets to a West End show on the same day we arrived in London. Normally I would not do that since we need time to recover from a long flight. We got into London around noon and were able to rest until dinner time so that we would be able to enjoy the show. The show we saw was “Priscilla Queen of the Desert.” If you have seen the movie, then you pretty much know what the show was. Let me just say – it was AWESOME. We enjoyed it so much. I will definitely see it again if I have the chance. The music was great. The staging and costumes were also top notch, as was the acting and singing. What a delightful way to start our week in London.

I spent a considerable amount of time researching what to do in London. The first time we were there, we did not get to see many museums so I wanted to make sure we did go to some this time. Most of the major museums in London are free. That’s great because everything else is pretty expensive. The first museum we went to was the British Museum. This museum is a real treasure trove. Some of the more famous items in the collection are the Rosetta Stone, the Elgin Marbles and the Portland Vase. I won’t go into all of the wonderful things you can see there, as there is just too much to describe.

The Saturday we were in London, we went to the Portobello Road Market. This is blocks and blocks of shops and stalls along and around Portobello Road. There were literally thousands of people out for the market (especially since the weather was so beautiful). There were tons of antique stores with some really interesting items. We didn’t buy too much because we really didn’t need anything. But it was fun to browse the stores and to people watch.

London has long had a reputation as a culinary wasteland. Well, I could not disagree more. I think the selection of restaurants and the food options in London are amazing. I am not a big fan of Chinese food, but the Chinese restaurants we have been to in Leicester Square are outstanding. They were also filled with Chinese patrons, which is always a good sign.

There is great Indian food, as well as Ethiopian, Turkish, Greek, and just about any other type of food you could want. This is, after all, a large, modern metropolis. Much like in New York, if you are looking for it in London, you will probably be able to find it.

Of course, I cannot mention this trip without talking about “The Wedding.” We were in London for the week leading up to the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, and came home 2 days before the actual event. While we were there, we saw the city being decked out and dressed up for the upcoming nuptials. We saw the grandstands/viewing areas being put up near Buckingham Palace. The lampposts along the Mall were all decorated with flags and banners. Everything was gleaming. There was a definite buzz about the upcoming wedding everywhere we went. Due to the crowds of people, we did not even try to get into Westminster Abbey this trip. When we drove by, the lines were enormous and seemed to go on and on.

All in all, this was a wonderful trip to a wonderful city. It clearly made up for any difficulties the first time we went to London. I am sure that I will be back (next time, maybe as an anchor for heading north to Scotland).

To see some of my photos from London, click here.

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