The World According to Tiff Sniff

Meandering ponderings and wonderings on the state of things.


Friday morning, we got up early and caught a train into London. Maneuvering Michelle's bags around took some creativity, but we got it done. Upon arriving in London, four of our team members took all of the big bags in cabs to the hotel. While they were on queue, I bought the Tube passes for the day. After a quick photo stop at Platform 9 3/4 (we were at King's Cross/St. Pancras), we took the Underground to Bayswater.

I can't tell you what a great feeling it was to get back to my old neighborhood. Has it really been four years since I lived there? It looked pretty much the same, although, of course, some businesses had closed and new ones opened in their places. It was so comforting to walk down my old streets. We checked into the hotel, took a few minutes to freshen up, and headed out for some sightseeing.

The weather was unbelievable. It was probably 70 degrees, and sunny. We got off the Tube at Victoria, and strolled through St. James Park to Buckingham Palace. The queen's standard flying from the roof, along with the snipers, tipped us off that she was at home. While we were taking pictures, some minor royalty (we were told) rode up in a couple of opulent carriages, and disappeared into the Palace. Eventually, once everyone had pictures of everything, we walked up Pall Mall to Trafalgar Square. It being the 200th anniversary of Admiral Lord Nelson's death, the entire square was being set up for a huge gala honoring the Royal Navy. It was unfortunate, because we couldn't take the pictures we wanted, but it was neat to see what they had planned. We climbed the steps up toward the National Gallery, though, and we all got some great shots down Whitehall to Parliament, Big Ben, and the Thames.

We strolled up Charing Cross Road to Leicester Square, and went to Wagamama for lunch. Chili Chicken Ramen. Sigh. When are they ever going to open in the States?

Angie came to London with us, which was a wonderful treat. However, we had not bought her a ticket for Les Miserables, so after lunch, she and Kasey (who had a student ID) and I walked up to the theatre to get her one, while everyone else enjoyed the Square. Did you know Les Mis has moved? I didn't. It had run in the Palace Theatre pretty much since it opened 20 years ago, so I was shocked to see that the Palace was running "The Woman in White", Andrew Lloyd Webber's new show. Fortunately, Les Mis had just moved two blocks down, so it didn't take long to scoot over to that box office. Coming back, we stopped at Haagen Daas before meeting the rest of the group at the small park in the square center.

We caught the Tube, once again, to go to the Tower of London. We bought everyone tickets, and after a few minutes of listening to the yeoman whose tour had just started, we all split off into groups to explore on our own. I've done the Tower a couple of times before, so after hitting the highlights, I was ready to go. I ran into Tracy, who was also ready to head out, and we went to Covent Garden. I wanted to shower before the show that night, and really, really wanted to use the Lush shampoo I love, so we stopped in there before going back to the hotel.

I showered and changed, and most of the rest of the group came back and did the same. After a couple of false starts, we took off for the theatre, and arrived a few minutes late. But it was quite possibly the best production of Les Mis I have seen. (I've seen it 7 times now.) Incredible. After the show, we went out for a group meal at a fabulous Lebanese restaurant called Maroush. The restaurant was just off of Oxford Street, but was far enough that we decided to take cabs over. While we were flagging down taxis, a rickshaw driver came up and propositioned me and Angie. Well, he asked us if he could take us. He was drunk, but really funny and nice. He said he didn't know where the restaurant is (it's new), but that he could find it.

Well, Angie and I got an extensive hour-long tour of Soho and Regent Street. We went to a couple of the wrong Lebanese restaurants. We finally found someone who knew where another location of the restaurant was, back near our hotel, so the rickshaw driver took us back to Oxford Street so we could take a taxi back over. Of course, the first taxi we flagged down knew exactly where it was, and drove us, oh, about five blocks to the place, where we found the rest of our group halfway through the first course, not too worried about us. It was actually a really funny adventure. I think we finally got back to the hotel around 2:00 a.m. and crashed pretty immediately.

The next morning, Amanda, Melody, Angie, and I got up at 8:00 and went to Portobello Road market. I walked them past 1 Princes Square, where Taleen and I lived in the fall of 2001. We also went by Caffe Nero and got coffee. It's a chain, but makes much better coffee than Starbucks et al. Plus, this location (where I got coffee almost every day for four months, as we didn't have a coffee maker) has a downstairs full of leather sofas and overstuffed chairs, where I spent hours and hours studying. It was a huge part of my London experience last time.

We made it to the market, where we spent several hours buying scarves, jewelry, and clothes, and we even took pictures at the Travel Bookshop where they filmed "Notting Hill" (Hugh Grant was definitely a theme of our trip).

We stopped back by the hotel to drop off our purchases, then took off for Covent Garden again. We shopped our way through the market and surrounding streets, and then headed over to Harrod's, where we met Lara and Amanda (who had left us at Portobello Road) for tea. We sat and chatted for a while, then strolled briefly through the store. I picked up some tea and coffee for myself (and some for gifts), and the other girls looked for gifts for family.

We went back to the hotel one more time, where Angie packed up. We met several other members of our group in the hotel lobby, and went to a pub around the corner for dinner and some just social time. Eventually, Angie had to leave to take the last train back to Loughborough. Melody and I rode over to the train station with her, where we said a really sad goodbye, then we went back to the hotel. We packed up our things, and I wandered back upstairs. I arranged cabs for the next morning through the hotel concierge, then spent some time hanging out with some of my friends who had come back from their various nights out.

Tracy, Bart, and Lesley were telling us about seeing Ewan McGregor in "Guys and Dolls" when one of our girls came in in a rush. She was part of the group we had left at the restaurant. Her purse had been stolen while they were sitting around talking. Fortunately, she didn't have her passport in it, so once she got her credit cards cancelled, she only lost some cash and her camera, monetarily. Unfortunately, she had a digital camera, and so all of her pictures from the entire trip disappeared with it. Then another girl realized her camera (not a digital one) had been taken out of her bag at some point. The first girl took out a police report, so once she left for the police station, I went to bed. I hate, hate, hate that that happened, but in reality, that wasn't a bad problem. Compared with all of the problems we could have had, losing some personal effects is not devastating.

The next morning, very much tired but happy, we loaded up into three cabs and drove out to Heathrow. Michelle's bags, which were very large and full, became the joke of the day. While everyone grumbled some, they did it good-naturedly, and I really appreciated everyone's attitude about it. It meant a lot to her for us to bring them back, saving her several hundred dollars in shipping.

It was a long day getting back, but again, the travels went relatively smoothly. No missed flights or anything, anyway.

Coming back to the dead fridge was by far the worst part of the trip. The week was incredible, and while I'm not quite recovered enough to start getting ready for next year, I am so grateful for our experience, and I'm glad we'll get to go back.

Tonight we're having a reunion, complete with hot tea, biscuits, and "The Lady and the Highwayman". Sunday, we'll debrief the trip for the whole church. I'm looking forward to sharing a taste of our fun with everyone else.

1 Responses to “London”

  1. # Blogger LB

    The clotted cream is ready and in the fridge!!

    Seriously, that was the best production of Les Mis? I'm sorry for you. I guess I got spoiled, though, seeing it at the Prince's Theatre.  

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