Thursday, February 19, 2015

London Calling!

Days 8-11

Day 8
Departure and travel from Paris to London St. Pancras on the Eurostar was really easy. Similarly the Southern rail connection to East Croydon where I'd booked a new Hampton Inn.

After checking in the hotel it was time to venture back into London to look around, have a dinner at one of my cheap-o favorites (Wok to Walk) and enjoy the first of three West End plays: The Commitments. The show was so much fun. 1960/70's soul music meets Dublin Ireland! For the entire last 30 minutes of the show the entire audience was on its feet clapping and rocking the rickety old Palace Theater.

Day 9
Monday morning was a bit grey and rainy (duh! its London in February!) 

A good day for indoor stuff. So the day was spent exploring Winchester Abbey. What a treasure trove of British history! Alas they do not allow photographs! We stopped into a pub near Covent Garden for a pub dinner of Cod and Chips and some English ale (i.e. not served cold), all was pretty darned good actually.  

Monday nights play was The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night. This play was originally produced by the National Theater where it won 7 Olivier Awards including Best New Play of 2013. It is now playing at the Gielgud Theater in London and is now on in NYC. This show had everyone on the edge of their seats for 2 hours and 40 minutes. It utilizes an absolutely amazing high tech set. I look forward to someone making this into a movie!

Day 10
Damn it was a really bright sunny day in London (am I in London in February?!) 

Figured this would be a great day to walk around. We began by visiting London's hot Southwark area and a visit to London's original jail (referred to as "The Clink"). That was followed by almost four hours at the Tower of London.

Views of The City From Southwark
Note Richard Roger's New 122 Leadenhall Building 
(Affectionately Known as The Cheesegrater)

Tower Bridge*

The White Tower*
(The Tower of London)

Home of The Queen's Armor Collection 
And The Crown Jewels

While touring the White Tower I finally stopped and asked a staffer about the bombing in the White Tower in 1974. I watched a video that only mentioned the White Tower as a modern bombing target in World War II. 

But for me its personal. When I was 18 and visiting the London for the first time in 1974 I toured the White Tower and just two days later when we'd moved on to Paris the White Tower was bombed. At the time it was generally attributed to the Irish Republican Army. But it took a heavy toll killing a teacher and seriously injuring 35 others. 

The building was closed for many months. 

The staffer quietly instructed me where to look to find a discretely placed plaque in the cannon room memorializing the sad event. It was not exactly easy to find and I realized I'd  walked right by it on two or three previous visits. 

Apparently the bomb was slipped in a cannon on display. Which I was told why all of the cannons on display at the Tower of London are now sealed.  

1974 Bombing of the Tower of London

After a hoi-sin duck pizza at Wildwood, we went on to Tuesdays's play. It was the newly opened London edition of Beautiful (The Carole King Musical). Although this was only the third or fourth performance it was spot on. It received well deserved standing ovations and a couple of curtain calls. If you have the chance to see this play in NYC or London - DO IT!

Day 11 
Got up very early for a flight from Gatwick to lovely sunny Barcelona. Although the hotel advertised being close to the airport (train said 15 minutes) they advised we use a taxi. WHAT A MISTAKE. Uber cabbie hotel arranged drove us to hell and gone making a 30 minute drive take almost an hour. I'll just stick to the train next time.

Still caught the flight on time and checked into the Hilton Barcelona. It is still served(?) by the typically crappy Swisscom hotel Internet services. Swisscom severely limits uploads on data. So I'll limit photos on these last few blog posts.

Roadboy's Travels © 2015

* (Photos Thanks to Scott!)

P.S. Did I say how lousy Swisscom hotel internet service is? It occurred to me that Swisscom's awful service (which if I weren't Diamond at Hilton I'd be charge 20E a day for - No I am not making that up!) is exactly what we'll get in the US if we lose net neutrality.

No comments: