Thursday, 1 March 2012

London, England 24.-29.2. 2012, Day 1

So, on February 24th, my one-week Winter Break started, which for me translated as packing my bags and jetting off to London for five nights. Yay, I was so excited! I'd had a longish break from so called real trips before this one since I'd been so tired after the three-week holiday to Canada and the USA last summer. I guess I was just SO ready to get on a plane again as I had been counting the days till our departure for weeks. This time, I was travelling with Tia, a colleague of mine, for the first time, and I'm happy to say we got on really well and so it's very likely we'll go somewhere together again at some point.

Our flight was on time and we arrived in London at around 10 pm local time. Then we went through passport control, collected our one suitcase (whose return trip cost 50€ - half of what it cost each of us to fly to London, crazy!!), and headed for the Terravision airport bus to Victoria Station. I think it's the cheapest way to get to London from Stansted, which is where Ryanair fly from Tampere - either £9 for a single or £15 for a return ticket. It took us quite a long time to finally get to Victoria Station, and then we still had to catch night bus #38 to Piccadilly Circus for our hostel there, Piccadilly Backpackers. When we finally arrived, it turned out they didn't have sheets for us for the first night! We were quite appalled at first since who knows who's slept in those beds, ewww, not to mention possible bed bugs. But, we were insanely tired and somehow survived the night :D. I was just a tad annoyed at first but then quickly got over it anyway - it's not my style to wallow over little details like this.

This is our room without the sheets :D! Rather like a prison cell, don't you think :D?
The hostel isn't by any means the best one possible - it's even quite expensive considering it's so unclean and the rooms are so simple - but the location is brilliant, just around the corner from Piccadilly Circus and the West End with its theatres, and for that, I'll still continue to recommend it. This was my second stay there so I knew what to expect and still chose it. You don't need to buy a Tube ticket for every day if you stay in this area as everything is so close.

We'd decided to go and see some musical during our trip as, for some very strange reason, I'd never done that before even though I've always loved musicals and always go and see everything that's on offer in Tampere. Tia had seen Michael Jackson's Thriller in London and loved it even if she's not a Michael fan and she knew where we should go for tickets for shows. So, we kicked off our first day in London by having a Subway breakfast and then went to Leicester Square to queue for tickets at the tkts booth there. Tia wanted to see The Lion King and I was interested in Wicked, but all the tickets for those were full price and we couldn't afford that. Instead, we decided to see the matinee of The Phantom of the Opera for £32. As the show was already at 2:30 pm, we just went to our room to get ready once we had the tickets and didn't do anything in particular in between queueing and going to Her Majesty's Theatre for the Phantom.

Queueing for theatre tickets.


Her Majesty's Theatre

I was surprised that going to the theatre in England was more like going to the cinema here in Finland - you take your jacket with you, and people bring snacks and drinks there with them. That's not how it works in Finland where going to the theatre is much more dignified somehow than going to see a film.

I was SO impressed with the Phantom! I have no words for it, it was just incredible! The setting was incredible with the huge chandelier, and the scene where the Phantom takes Christine to his lair and they sing The Phantom Of The Opera was stunning with the stage turning into a sea of lights and mist while the Phantom and Christine cross the lake on a boat...I loved it so much, I was in tears and I had shivers down my spine, the good kind, the whole time. I used to play the songs from the Phantom on the piano and I'm quite familiar with them - the part where Christine and Raoul sing All I Ask Of You was incredible as well with the city lights in the background...so beautiful! I think the storyline is brutally heartbreaking - it is simply wrong that the Phantom writes all that beautiful music for Christine to sing, and then she goes and sings it all to Raoul instead of the Phantom! I hate it, it made me cry at the theatre! Also, for the first time in a really, really long time, I felt like writing an academic paper because the themes of despair, loneliness and jealousy of the Phantom really inspired me. I highly recommend the show to absolutely anyone! You'll never be disappointed with an Andrew Lloyd Webber show anyway!

After the show, we walked around in Westminster, saw Buckingham Palace, St James's Park, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and the rest of it, and then headed for The London Eye for a ride - yet another thing I'd never experienced in London despite having been there closer to 20 times now.

Big Ben and St James's Park.

The London Eye.

Me in London <3.

Buckingham Palace.

Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.

The London Eye.

The Thames.

I thought the whole London Eye experience was pretty cool! The ticket was £18,90 so quite expensive, but then my opinion is that if you travel somewhere, you have to be ready to spend money on certain things. Otherwise what's the point of ever going anywhere?! For the price of the ticket, you also get a 4D clip of The London Eye, which was pretty great! I've never even seen a 3D film so this was my first time with the silly glasses and everything. I loved it! You had seagulls flying past you, snow falling and other fun stuff like that and at least I really enjoyed it. Here, have a very silly picture of us - nerds for the win?



Oh, there also were a couple of Madame Tussaud's wax models in the lounge and I thought they were pretty successful ones - Kate Winslet and David Beckham :)!



After the 4D thing, we went on The Eye. The views were spectacular and extremely beautiful since it was dark and you could see all the city lights!





Then we walked to a pub called The Old Shades and had dinner there, after which we went back to our room for the rest of the night. A brilliant first day in London!

8 comments:

  1. I can't believe you never went to see a musical in London! I'm glad you liked it though. The Phantom is awesome, a good start! :D

    x Maaike

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    1. When I got to thinking, I realised maybe the reason is that I haven't had the money to do it until now. Better late than never, though :)! From now on, I want to see a musical or two whenever I'm in London!

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  2. Love the pictures!

    Where did you get that bag you have in the picture of you? It looks so nice! I'm hoping to find something similar.

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    1. Thank you :)! The bag is from H&M, I think I bought it last year. It's really practical!

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  3. Lovely to read about your London trip! I've been there plenty of times too but never been to the London Eye either. Been to some musicals but it's ages since the last time I saw one. Must try to do it next time I go!

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    1. Thank you :)! I always thought the London Eye was the most touristy thing you could think of but I'm glad I got over my prejudices as it was a fun experience. The musicals were so good, too, I'm very impressed!

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  4. I'm glad you got to cacth up on London experiences. The Eye is expensive but definitely worth it in my opinion!

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    1. Yes, I thought it was worth it, too :)! It's always fun to try new things as well.

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