Jeneane and I spent the weekend in London. In our original plan we had wanted to go to Paris, but after reviewing expenses and time constraints and everything we wanted to do in England, we thought staying in London would be best.
So we hopped on yet another bus and departed Bath for London! The way there did have a small snag however…our bus broke down! So we had to wait for an hour parked beside the freeway for another bus to come along with room for us all. Eventually we pulled into Victoria Station in London. I was immediately overwhelmed by the number of people milling about…so many more than in Bath.
We had booked a hostel for the first night, which was far on the other side of the city, so we planned on taking one of those black cabs London is famous for. Upon finding out there was at least a half hour wait for a cab, we decided on an alternate method of transportation. We decided to tackle the Underground.
I will never, as long as I live, forget the first time I set eyes on the Victoria Underground Station. We had just bought our Oyster cards and the guy gave us instructions on how to get where we wanted to go – start at Platform 3, he said. It’s just down those stairs, he said. Well he forgot to mention that “just down those stairs” were thousands of people rushing about in what appeared to be somewhat ordered chaos. Jeneane and I were a little stunned, so we did what anyone would do in that situation – we burst into laughter for a few minutes, then plunged into the crowd. It took a little while before we felt confident enough to get on one of the trains, but once we did, it was easy to imagine that this was an everyday thing. I’m telling you, after we arrived at our destination, we stepped out of that station feeling like we could take on the world. We felt so accomplished.
It was late when we checked into the hostel, which was clean and friendly, and full of families traveling. The place had its own restaurant, bar and rec room, so after deciding to eat there later, Jeneane and I set out to explore the suburb area we were in. It was a quiet, pretty section of town, and we enjoyed our walk. When we got back, we split a plate of fish and chips for dinner. Despite my dislike of fish, it was actually quite tasty!
The next morning we left pretty early to head into the city to explore. After another ride on the Tube (which again left us feeling so accomplished), we walked through Saint James Park and over to Buckingham Palace, which was beautiful. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see a changing of the guard, but I still got to see those famous guards in their red suits and tall black hats. There was a gorgeous fountain out front, so Jeneane and I both threw in two pence and made a wish!
After seeing the Palace, we walked through Hyde Park, which was huge and very lovely. I had been hoping to see the giant statue of Mr. Darcy, but found out it was around touring other lakes in Britain and heading to its final destination of Lyme Park. Oh well.
By then it was time for lunch. We walked back into the city areas of shops and restaurants, deciding to eat at a cafe where we could relax for an hour before it was time to head to Her Majesty’s Theatre (which was just down the street). We had bought tickets to see a live performance of Phantom of the Opera! Both of us were giddy with excitement. Still, I managed to get some writing done at the cafe. (Writing at a cafe in Europe – check that off the bucket list…)
Her Majesty’s Theatre was beautiful. It was smaller inside than I expected, but that didn’t take away from it at all. On the contrary, it made it feel like we were a part of the performance (especially when the Phantom sang from off stage). Speaking of – the performance was INCREDIBLE. I can’t even find the words to describe it. The singing, the acting, the props and sets (the lake scene!!) the music – it was all phenomenal! It was truly an amazing experience and I am so glad I got to do it, especially with Jeneane, a fellow Phantom fan. Not surprisingly, we spent the rest of trip singing snippets of songs from this musical. (This hit its peak when we were singing about pizza at 3 in the morning to the tune of “Angel of Music”).
That night we stayed in a hotel not far from Victoria Station and close to Westminister Cathedral. We went to an Indian restaurant for dinner. I had never eaten at an Indian place before, so it was a fun experience. I don’t think Indian will ever be my favorite, but it was still good. We also had some delicious chai tea there, which kept us awake a little late that night.
In the morning we walked to the Westminister Cathedral to go to Mass. The inside of the church was very beautiful. It was so huge – I think my hometown church could fit in there three times, which is saying something since my church is a decent size. The outside of the church was a little strange looking, but that didn’t really matter. The service was lovely, and that was why I was there.
After that there wasn’t much time left for us to do much aside from getting some breakfast and heading to the bus station. From there we took the five hour bus ride to Sheffield, where we stayed at the Jury’s Inn before going to Chatsworth the next day. (And that story you know!).
That was our adventure in London. There was a lot of the city we didn’t see, so if (I mean when) I return to England, I’d like to spend more time there, checking out the things we missed. All in all though, it was a nice introduction to the city. And if anything, getting to see Phantom of the Opera made it all worth it!