Friday, July 8, 2011

I Miss You, London!

My advice for anyone visiting London:
Spend a few hours wandering Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.  Don’t bother touring Kensington Palace – it’s not worth the entry fee.  Do bring a bag of peanuts for the squirrels.  Man, I miss those squirrels!
Eat Ben’s cookies whenever possible.

Watch Les Miserables and feel like you’re going to burst with emotion as the cast sings One Day More.
Shop along Portobello Road.  Warning: if you haggle too low, you will offend the shopkeepers.
Visit the Cabinet War Rooms, because they’re so freaking cool!  Winston Churchill’s cigar and a sugar packet some government employee squirreled away are still there.
Watch Wicked and, if you’re anything like me, sing every single lyric in your head throughout the entire play.
Attend communion at St. Paul’s Cathedral. Then climb all the way to the tippy-top of the dome.

Eat a full English breakfast: bacon (nothing like American bacon), sausage, beans, eggs, stewed tomatoes, and toast.
Wander the Victoria and Albert Museum.  If only the Grace Kelly clothing exhibit were still there, I’d tell you to spend an hour and a half in it, like I did.
Visit Hampton Court Palace and recreate statues for photos.  Avoid enraging King Henry the 8th, since he’ll probably be there.
Spend a day at the Tower of London.

See as many Shakespearean plays as you can, especially at the Globe.  Hopefully there won’t be as much blood involved as there was when we saw Macbeth.
Ride along the Thames on a boat tour.
Shop on Kensington High Street and hope you’ll run into Kate Middleton.
Visit the home of your favorite author or poet, but don’t go to as many as we did.  It gets old.  Keats’ and Dickens’ houses were okay.  Samuel Johnson’s was lame.

Explore Covent Garden, where you can be “a disgrace to the noble architecture of these columns.”

Attend a ballet or some other performance at Royal Albert Hall.  Simply beautiful.
Shop at Whole Foods on Kensington High Street because it’s incredible.
Line up outside Buckingham Palace for Trooping the Colour on the Queen’s official birthday (which isn’t actually her birthday).  Catch a glimpse of the Royal family.
Go to the British Library.  I mean it!  They have a Guttenberg Bible!  And Jane Austen’s writing desk!  And the papers the Beatles wrote their lyrics on!  Go!

Dress up and go to tea at the Orangery.
Try every flavour (I’m being British) of Magnum bar.  These are now available in the U.S., but it’s just not the same.
Visit all the Art Galleries in London – the National Gallery, the Tate Modern, and the Tate Britain.  They’re all reasonably sized, so you can see every painting.
Hang out at Trafalgar Square, and, if you’re braver than me, take a picture riding the lions.
See The Mouse Trap, the longest running play in the world, and realize you’re a part of history.
Try all kinds of random food like baklava and ostrich burgers at Borough market.
Go to every single West End show you possible can.  Even after 11 musicals and five plays, I still regret the ones that I turned down.
Ride the London Eye at sunset the night before you go home.  Say goodbye to the most wonderful city in the world as your heart breaks a little.

I could go on and on (and I already have!).  Good golly, I miss London!