As much as I have come to love the quiet life in the country, every now and then it’s really great to be in a big city. Especially when you also get to spend time with a friend from home whom you haven’t seen in way too long.
My friend Trish is taking a month-long tour of Europe and her group just happened to be leaving from London, so Paul and I drove in from Wales on Tuesday night in order to spend all of Wednesday showing her around the city. I forget how much I love London until I’m there; it was the city that played host to my first face-to-face meeting with Paul almost exactly one year ago, so it will always be special to us, but getting to hang out there with an old friend was a new level of fun.
How do you do London in one day? First of all, you get a cheap hotel in the center of the city. We recommend the Travelodge in Covent Garden on Drury Lane. It’s in the heart of the theatre district and it’s only two blocks from the British Museum. Trish was also staying near there, so we met up with her in Russell Square, had breakfast (a full English fry-up, minus the black pudding), and decided to kick our tour off by visiting the Rosetta Stone and the BM’s collection of Egyptian mummies. Our decision was aided by the fact that the museum is free, since we decided to do London as cheaply as possible. Actually, we were really just saving our money for pints in the pubs.
After getting our fill of Egyptian history, we took the Tube from Russell Square to Westminster, home of Big Ben, Parliament and the London Eye. Since some of our party didn’t care for heights, we skipped actually riding the Eye and just took a ton of pictures instead. Then we started walking. Westminster Abbey, Downing Street, Whitehall, Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square (where we paused for Starbucks and bought discount tickets for the 7:30 show of Wicked), Picadilly Circus, the Mall and finally Buckingham Palace. According to the pedometer Trish had strapped to her hip, we walked about ten miles in total. I really wish I couldn’t feel my feet right now, but I still can, despite all the pain meds.
We grabbed the Tube again and headed across town to have dinner and drinks at our favorite pub, the oldest in London (also a favorite of Charles Dickens), Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. As we walked from the Tube station to the pub, it started raining, then hailing, then sleeting. Trish looked as if she had just been slapped in the face by the sky. I understood that pain; it happened to me last year when I went from sunny, warm L.A. to freezing, windy London overnight.
Several pints later, we took the Tube to Victoria Station, across from which sits the Apollo Victoria, the home of Wicked. ‘Cause we were early, we had to go to nearby pub for a few more pints. Our seats for the show were not too bad for being only eighteen pounds each, and we only had to wake up Trish two or three times. (Those who know Trish know that she loves the theatre; she just has narcolepsy during movies and plays.)
After the show, we took the Tube back to Russell Square, stopped in another pub for a final pint, before we said goodbye to Trish and wished her well on her European adventure. The next morning, we drove back home and in the middle of the Cotswolds, we got caught in a sudden snowstorm. It was gorgeous and totally unexpected and I want to do it again!!
So, what did I learn on this trip to London?
- I need better walking shoes before we do this again in June.
- Avoid the Tube station at Russell Square; it is 175 steps or 15 flights below ground and elevators aren’t reliable enough.
- Londoners really do give you dirty looks if you talk too much on the Tube.
- When I’m with a friend I haven’t seen in nearly a year, I don’t give a damn what Londoners think.
- The British Museum needs to bring back their mummies. I remember them having way more 20 years ago.
- My weather tolerance has started to change. While Trish was buying gloves, I was considering taking off my coat.
- Cider is gluten-free.
- I can drink four pints of cider and not lose control. Next Liverpool match in Shrewsbury, I’m going for five!!
- London is always under construction or being repaired. Always.
- I miss my friends from home more than I like to admit.
- Listening to Wicked‘s Elphaba and Glinda with British accents is funny. Could have been the cider, though.
- My husband is the best man in the world.
I already knew that last one, but I was reminded of it after he took two days off work, drove a round-trip of about nine hours (some of it in snow), and spent a whole day (that concluded with a musical) with two sometimes-tipsy, always-loud American women. Seriously, he is the perfect guy.
I am already planning our next trip to London in June. After the wedding, we’re heading there with my parents and the gang from California, and although they don’t know it yet, a revival of Miss Saigon is premiering in the West End in May and I will pull every bridal string I have in order to see it. Seriously. There could be tears.
Hopefully by then I can walk without wincing.