A Phantom in London

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.

red phone booth
These things were everywhere in London! I couldn’t resist snapping a photo. There was no sign of Superman, however.

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!

hostel
I’m not angry in this picture, I swear. I’m just concentrating on taking this extremely cheesy mirror picture.

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!

BuckinghamPalace
Long live the Queen!
tiffany throws pennies in the fountain
Making wishes makes me happy.

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.

pigeons in Saint James
There were so many pigeons!
London Eye
Back there is the London Eye. I wanted to see it as well as Big Ben and the buildings of Parliament, but we didn’t get the chance.

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”).

Her Majesty's Theatre

tiff and jeneane and phantom
Most amazing performance ever.

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.

Westminister Cathedral
I’m not sure what is the deal with the super tall bell tower. Was it an after thought?

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!

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22 thoughts on “A Phantom in London

  1. Wow! Awesome! I’m curious: are you at liberty to say what wish you made? (My guess would be to see the Darcy statue.)

    I think the mirror picture was inspired! And your serious face is perfect.

    Too bad you didn’t find Superman…

    1. Actually, since my wish came true, I can certainly share it with you: (It’s nothing spectacular) I wished that my Dad wouldn’t freak out about the fact that I had to fly back to the States by myself…and he didn’t! (at least, he didn’t to me).

      Haha, I thought it would be a a good way to show our room.

      It is a shame…

  2. It’s a good thing you took the Tube – the black cabs are insanely expensive. I had to use one once, early morning when the Tube was still closed. A five-minute trip cost me 20 pounds. But travelling on the Tube is enormous fun. And it’s usually very punctual. With my one job I had my trains so perfectly timed in the mornings that I would step off one train to immediately board the next.

    Interesting factoid: “chai” is Hindi for tea, so if you say chai tea you’re really saying tea tea. I think it was the excitement that kept you up, as chai is herbal and doesn’t contain caffeine. My wife and I often drink it in the evening if we want to fall asleep quickly. Just say if I must send you the recipe.

    Phantom is amazing. I saw the South African production last year (for the second time), but to see it in its original home is high on my bucket list.

    1. Yeah, I am happy we took the Tube too. Once we got over the shock of it, it was very fun. I almost wish we could have rode it more. It seems like a very effective way to get to work everyday!

      Hmm, that is interesting! Haha, you’re probably right. I think I was running on adrenaline most of the trip… Oh that would be awesome! Please do send me the recipe!

      Awesome. They are performing Phantom at my capital city (Columbus) this spring. I definitely want to see it again. I hope you’ll get to see it in London someday!

  3. I’m glad you had such a good time! I always find it strange when people get excited about our phoneboxes and black cabs, they’ve been such an everyday part of my life that I forget they’re ‘special’ But as KokkieH said the cabs are ridiculously expensive. Fun fact: the taxis will also refuse to go south of the river at night, I’ve been turfed out a few times because they see my request to go to Wimbledon as ridiculous! Congratulations on mastering the tube by the way, it is pretty intimidating the first time but it’s surprising how fast you can get used to it!

    I saw Phantom a couple of months ago (for the second time) and it is such an incredible performance, that bit where the chandelier goes up into the roof? Wow!!

    1. Thank you! Haha, I was thinking that nearly everywhere I went in England – I thought the people who live there and see these things everyday have to be amused by us tourists. Well, I guess it’s good I didn’t have to take a cab, since they are so expensive! Interesting. Why is that? Do they think it’s too far or something? Thank you! It really was, after we had passed through several stations and I got used to the rhythm of things, I thought, “I could do this everyday.”

      Awesome!! It really is. I am still blown away by how amazing it was. Oh I know! The chandelier, the lake, the part on the roof after Raoul and Christine sing “All I Ask of You” and the Phantom is lowered down on the gargoyle? Fantastic!

      1. It is funny but given that the town I come from (fun fact number 2 coming up) has the longest row of red phone boxes in the UK I guess I’m kind of immune to their charm now!

        It’s because they say they won’t get a return fare as no one’s going into central at that time of night so it’s not worth their time…! I definitely prefer public transport and I really like my daily tube journeys 🙂

        Oh the lake and the gargoyle as well, it’s all incredible, I want to go again already!!

      2. That’s cool! But I guess seeing them everyday would definitely make you immune to their charm!

        Ah, I see. I suppose that makes sense. Still. How rude! Oh well. The Tube is more fun. Plus, I’m not sure how much I trust cabbies after watching Sherlock…

        Yes – It’s all incredible! I can’t wait to see it again.

  4. Looks like you guys had a great time and The Phantom of The Opera sounds amazing, I’ve loved Bach’s Fugue in D minor since forever, amazing piece of music!

    Rohan.

  5. Glad you enjoyed your London stay and well done on tackling the Tube. I always feel a sense of accomplishment after doing that as well since it’s so damn scary.

    When you started saying that your accommodation was on the other side of London and you were going to take a taxi, I thought the story was going to end “and it was so expensive we had to sell all our luggage to pay for it” 🙂

    1. Thank you! It was scary at first, but so exhilarating when we made it through! 😀

      Lol it’s a good thing there was the long wait, because I would have died if the fare was as high as it sounds like it would have been!

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