Over the past few days we’ve been taking in more of the London sites at a leisurely pace. We had an absolutely spectacular weekend, it was beautiful on Saturday and got up to 24 degrees Celsius on Sunday but it has since cooled down to about 16 degrees. We’ve been to Portobello Road for the worlds best antique shopping, took in a play at the west end theater district, visited the Natural History Museum, wandered some of London’s great parks such as Hyde and Lincoln, walked across the London Tower Bridge and through the atmospheric Borough Market.
Saturday, we left in the morning on the tube for a bit of journey to the famed Portobello Road, home to a large open market every Saturday with thousands of vendors selling a huge selection of British Antiques and everything from vintage clothes, souvenirs, hand crafted items to ethnic foods and everything in between. We walked our butts off going south to north in Notting Hill (made famous by the Hugh Grant movie), its supposedly a posher area of London. To get here we took the tube to the Notting Hill Gate station on the Central line and then about a 10-minute walk to the southern end of the street market. We finished at the north end of the market and walked over to the Ladbroke Grove station for the next leg of our journey to the theater district. It was a pleasurable walk through the Market, something you can do for free in London. Although it was a mass of people it was a sensory smörgåsbord of sounds (from the crowds and street entertainers), the smells (wafting from the food stalls), the sites (the people, interesting shops and wares) and tastes if you partake in the large offering of ethnic street foods so go hungry!
Late in the afternoon we left the Portobello Road Market and headed to the west end theater district to see what we could find for a deal on tickets to a show. There where at least 30 plus shows to choose from, its amazing just how much theater is available in this city only rivaled perhaps by New York. Our top two choices were ‘The book of Mormon’ and ‘An American in Paris’ and we got a deal, supposedly half price on the later which amounted to about $134 CDN for two good seats front and center in the Dominion Theater. Tickets for the Book of Mormon where over double and they said no deals because it was Easter week when all the kids are out of school and prices go up. We bought our tickets from a discount booth in the Leicester Square tube station which is the stop for the theater district, we ended up seeing numerous more discount booths throughout the district so I’d maybe shop around next time. Most recommend TKTS for discount tickets in Leicester Square so I’d price compare with them before buying from other booths, we’ll do that next time.
Tickets in hand we headed towards the theater and stopped at a nearby restaurant for dinner before the show. We each had a nice salad and prossecco for dinner and had to finish it off with some sticky toffee pudding and a coffee before heading for the show. Along the way, we passed by many of the other theaters and shows. It was all very exciting and getting busy at the popular venues like the new ‘Hairy Potter and the Cursed Child’ which had just picked up several prestigious Olivier Awards. We arrived at the Dominion theater which was larger and more impressive than expected, a grand theater with 2000 plus seats that seemed full to capacity. Soon the curtain went up and we thoroughly enjoyed the 2 ½ hour play adapted after the screenplay and famous movie starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron back in 1951. A simple love story but you can’t go wrong with scores by Gershwin and some Foseyesque dance numbers not to mention the incredibly talented cast!
Sunday was a day for relaxing in the backyard with a good book enjoying the sunshine, later we barbecued hamburgers and made plans for the next day. We decided to head out to the Museum of Natural History on Monday as it was on the top of our list, most of the museums and civic sites have free entry which works well on our limited travel budget. We arrived at long lines and crowds but they moved quickly and we were in the museum within 15-20 minutes and once in the crowds dispersed fairly well. The museum is enormous and we only saw a few sections, one could easily spend a few days here but we had our fill by mid afternoon and headed out for a change of scenery.
We made our way to Kensington Park and walked through a bit of Hyde Park. We stopped at the Princess Diana memorial fountain and had a coffee at the Park Café while we watched the paddle boaters go by on the lake and people playing in the park. The parks are enormous and well worth visiting, I particularly enjoy some of this natural scenery and reprieve from the busy city streets. A great plan would be to hit a Marks and Spencer and bring a picnic along as we had seen many people do but you can also buy lunch from the occasional vendor or the park restaurant.
Yesterday Janet went into Oxford Street to do some shopping for summer wear while I stayed at home and did our taxes. It was nice to have a day on our own as being together 24/7 can sometimes cause enough friction to ignite the fireworks going off and I’m not talking about the Love Boat kind. The day before I persevered with the shopping (not well) when we went to a local mall but Janet knew I wasn’t in to it, I ended up losing her in a Boots Drug store (she ditched me) and when we found each other over an hour later we had some words. We needed a day off and it all worked out well. Janet loved Oxford Street, she said it had great shopping and was lively and vibrant………darn I missed it!
Today we headed into the center of London walking past the financial district and The Shard to the old London Tower. We had plans to tour the Tower but tickets were a bit steep and there were crowds of people lining up since it’s the beginning of Easter weekend so we moved on and walked across the iconic London Tower Bridge. It provided some great photo ops and we enjoyed a walk along the Thames on the other side where we came full circle to our starting point. We weren’t ready to head home yet so we continued walking and accidentally stumbled upon a great find called The Borough Market. It’s a foodie paradise where you can find all sorts of British artisanal food stalls housed under a downtown canopy of the train bridge. I wish we had spent a little more time here as there was lots to experience and we walked threw rather quickly trying to check everything off our tourist list, next time we come to London we’ll make a day of it.
Well not a bad few days at the office, I’ll be getting an ‘I Love London’ bumper sticker. We still have a few things we want to check off the list and maybe return to a few more we’d like to dig deeper into over the next few days. It’s Thursday and Monday will be spent cleaning up the house and packing before we fly off to Croatia so just a few more days of London. Here is a link to our London Photos to date.