The London Stage Recap

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

I blogged about bits and snippets of the course – The London Stage – but here’s the overview.

What we did.

Where we lived.

What we saw.

When I sometimes drove the students nuts. {Dragging them to a Jack the Ripper tour in the rain.}

And, of course, our favorites sprinkled in there with some travel tips we picked up along the way.

The Flight & Packing:

DSC_5245

I tend to get a wee bit stressed out prior to the start of the program – the group dynamics, logistics, weather, volcanoes in Iceland, etc – so I obsess over packing. Something I can control.

I tried to go light, very light, since I knew I would be traveling for a few weeks after the program ended. I attempted to be all Rick Steves’. I brought a small carry-on suitcase, which I checked since it included some liquid toiletries. {Dumb move, more on that later.} I carried on my Mammut daypack and a tote bag large enough to fit my smaller camera backpack and equipment. I like to bring a daypack because I know I can stow it under the seat in front of me. I make sure to stock my iPod, reading material, water, and snacks in that one. I keep it pretty simple because I don’t like to be surrounded by a bunch of crap in a small, confined area. No extra pillow, no laptop balanced on my little tray. Maybe I’m old school? I just like to read and listen to music.

That said, I tend to get cold on airplanes, so I like to dress in about four layers. Cute. I know. I wear my heavier items  - like my sweater, jacket, long-sleeved shirt, and sneakers/socks – not only to keep warm but also get the most space out of my suitcase. And no jewelry or belt – saves time going through security!

We flew over on an overnight flight from New York’s JFK to London Heathrow. It took about six hours. About half the group flew over earlier in the day to JFK from Burlington. We had a pretty long stretch before flying to London. I bought an overpriced deck of cards at the airport and we played euchre for a good two hours. A good way to get to know each other!

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

We each had our own television on the seat in front of us for the flight over to London. Gosh, that was a luxury I wished I would have had on my even longer flight home from Paris. I watched a few movies.  I listened to a lot of Arcade Fire. I read. I can rarely sleep on planes, but tried to catch a few hours.

And then we were in London!

After landing and clearing customs, Prof. B and I decide that we are adept enough to navigate the Tube with 13 students from the airport to our flats.

Saved us money, but definitely not the easiest way to travel in sleep-deprived group with luggage.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

It was a long and tiring journey. There were many stairs. A lot of questions geared toward me, How much longer?, Are there more stairs?, Exactly, how many more stairs?

I dunno.

Probably.

I dunno.

{I used these phrases often throughout the trip. I learned that the students like to know all the nitty gritty details, and more often than not I would have no idea.}

We arrived at our flats and checked-in. Our flats were large and lovely and located just off Edgware Road, which has a large Middle Eastern influence and an amazing food scene. And lots of shishas.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

I shared a large flat with three other students. I had my own bedroom and three other students shared two other bedrooms. There were two bathrooms, a kitchen, washer/dryer, and a large living area.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

I loved this view every morning.

The funniest thing was that it was an older building, and we all thought that the toilets were broken because we could not flush them. Before this situation could get out of hand, I called the building supervisor to let him know this problem on the first day.

He was like “You just gotta really pull hard on the handle. Flush hard.”

OK.

Essentially, flushing the toilets was like trying to start a dying lawnmower. You had to really pull down on the handle {and say a prayer} and do that like four more times and think “come on, come on, come on” and then the toilet would flush. I joked that it was my arm workout for the day.

The following day we went on a Scavenger Hunt around the city…
Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

…on the day of the Harry Potter premiere!

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

…ending in Covent Garden. And so began our course! 30 days in London, a dream! Here’s the overview:

The Plays:

DSC_7532

We saw quite a lot of theatre in and around London. Not any of the big productions, but the smaller seasonal shows and Shakespeare. Oh, it was fun. Crazy, fun. I have a whole new appreciation for acting. Gosh darn, they are talented and work hard!

1. Thursday 7/7: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead / Theatre Royal Haymarket

2. Monday 7/11: A Midsummer Night’s Dream/ Cambridge Shakespeare Festival / St. John’s College (Cambridge)

3. Tuesday 7/12: Emperor and Galilean / National Theatre (Olivier Stage)

4. Wednesday 7/13: Macbeth / Royal Shakespeare Theatre (Stratford)

5. Monday 7/18: The Cherry Orchard / National Theatre (Olivier Stage)

6. Tuesday 7/19: The Beggar’s Opera/ Regents Open Air Theatre

7. Wednesday 7/20: Much Ado About Nothing / Wyndam’s Theatre

8. Tuesday 7/26: Betrayal / Comedy Theatre

9. Wednesday 7/27: Anne Boleyn / Globe Theatre

10. Thursday 7/28: Pygmalion / Garrick Theatre

11. Monday 8/1: The Beauty Queen of Leenane / Young Vic Theatre

We all had different favorites – I thought Much Ado About Nothing was top on my list because it was campy and fun and a different take on Shakespeare –  but I would say unanimously that we all loved Anne Boleyn. if you’re in London, try to see a play at the Globe Theatre.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

The experience of just being in the building is incredible, the acting is fantastic, and you’ll get to see everyone do a jig at the end. My favorite part! Also, go early and try to eat at The Swan {a lot of the actors eat there and it’s got a great view of the river} or grab a hog sandwich in the courtyard before the show.

The Excursions:

We visited a lot of museums, markets, and parks. We also took quite a few day trips. I’ll start with the museums.

Museums:

All of the museums are free. They are all good. There are a ton of them. You most likely wouldn’t make it to all of them. We didn’t, and we were there for about a month. If I had to pick four, they would be:

museums

1. Museum of London: This museum is nestled behind St. Paul’s Cathedral. It’s not overwhelming, but covers the complete history of London, starting in prehistoric times and going all the way up to today. You walk through it chronologically, which I enjoyed and thought it helped you see the amazing evolution of the city of London. Plus, it’s got a fantastic 70’s section.  You’ll see platform shoes like you’ve never seen before.

2. Tate Modern: Even if you aren’t a modern art fan, this is a very cool museum to visit. The museum is housed in an old power station featuring a huge turbine 35 meters high, and it’s situated right on the South Bank. Beside Shakespeare’s Globe. At the foot of the Millennium Bridge. Across the river from St. Paul’s. It just couldn’t be in a more ideal location. It’s also organized in a neat way. The collection is divided by concept: poetry and dream, states of flux, energy and process, etc. It’s just fun! The top floor has a restaurant/bar/lounge area with knock-out views of the Thames. The lawn outside is also an ideal spot to chill. I also like to people-watch in the turbine area. All in all, it’s just a fun place to be.

My favorite way to get to the museum, is to get off at St. Paul’s and walk across the Millennium bridge.

3. British Museum: OK, there’s not many things British in it {and that’s created quite the controversy}, but it’s got a mighty collection of artifacts. Here’s a few: The Rosetta Stone, Elgin Marbles, an Egyption section that spans like five rooms, Assyrian art, coins, china, gold, jewelry, on and on. Don’t miss the clock and watch exhibition!

4. British Library: Many people don’t think about the British Library, but it’s one of my favorites. It won’t take long. Pop in and you’ll see King George III’s ginormous book collection, as well as a special collections exhibition that must be the finest in the world. In there, you’ll find the Magna Carta, sketches from Leonardo da Vinci, Jane Austen’s desk and glasses {which are so little and cute}, notes from music geniuses like Mozart and Bach, and….gah….an entire section of Beatles hand written song notes. Stop here. You can put on head phones and listen to the final song versions while you read the handwritten, scribbled song notes and more on their creative process. I think I cried a little. There will be people giving you the cut-eye, wanting your headphones. Ignore them. Listen to all of the songs. Enjoy this moment. It’s special.

{I was sad the day all of the students left – sniff, I liked them a lot – so I went here.}

Markets:

Oh, the markets! I’ve been away a few weeks, and wow, I miss them. Is there a place in the States that has like fifteen amazing markets? If so, I’m moving there. The highlights:

markets

1. Borough Market: Just go. It’s food market paradise. {Get off at London Bridge instead of Borough on the Tube though.}

2. Camden Market: Actually, another friend liked this place better. I don’t think he understood why I liked the Borough Market so much {what??!!} over this one. I found the Borough market more food oriented and less overwhelming, I guess. If you want to experience an alternate universe and get lost in winding passages full of everything imaginable, go here. It’s an experience worth checking out because I think it’s like no other.

3. Colombia Road Flower Market: So stinking cute. A tiny street in East London filled with flowers, good food, pretty boutiques, and street musicians.

4. Spitalfields: It’s near Brick Lane, which is a fun street to walk down to see the vast amount of Indian Restaurants. This market is great for getting artsier gifts and vintage items.

Day-trips:

If you feel like getting out of the city to sight-see, you really can’t go wrong. This year I took the students to Brighton, Canterbury, Cambridge, Windsor, Stratford-upon-Avon, and Hampton Court Palace. I went to Rye on my own. Past years, we checked out Bath, Stonehenge/Salisbury, Oxford, and Kew Gardens.

excursions

I would say Brighton {a seaside town only an hour train ride south of London}, Greenwich via a riverboat {the boat ride is divine, the town is cute, and you get to see the Prime Meridian}, Canterbury, Windsor, and Hampton Court Palace {Henry XVIII lived here!) are some of my favorite quick day-trips from London. I think Bath needs two days. It’s that adorable.

*If you are traveling in groups of 3-4, you are eligible for a ‘group-save’ of 50 percent off. It’s so worth it. We got some really cheap tickets going in groups of 3 or 4.

All the rest:

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Churches: St. Paul’s and Westminster Abbey. I recommend going to a service for free to check out the inside. Unlike the museums, the churches charge a fee. Although paying to see the view from the top of St. Paul’s is definitely worth it. And you can play around in the Whispering Gallery.

Gelatto: Scoop in Covent Garden or Oddono’s near the Natural History Museum.

Cupcakes: Hummingbird Bakery in Notting Hill.

Shopping: Harrod’s {really more like a museum…..did you know they even have a pet kingdom?}, Liberty’s {It’s behind Regent’s Street, and hands down the prettiest store I’ve ever been in. I wanted to live in it. }, Uniqlo {an affordable Japanese chain store with great items}, and the markets!

Pubs: Ye Old Cheshire Cheese {one of the oldest pubs…and you really do feel like you’re transported back in time drinking there}, Princess Louise {very Victorian and filled with gorgeous cut glass}, and The Churchill Arms {it has the prettiest outside and attached to the back is the most amazing Thai restaurant}.

Eats {on a budget}: Food is pricey in London. Pubs {you can get good food for a good price}, grocery Stores {many offer quick prepared foods}, Pret-A-Manger, food at the markets {especially Camden}.

*I got a promotional temporary Taste Card, which gave me a discount on area restaurants. I did find the website a bit overwhelming. I mainly used it for a discount at Pizza Express.
**Many locals use toptable.uk for good deals on meals.

Eats {not on a budget}: Tea at Kensington Palace. Worth it. The Breakfast Club in Hoxton. It’s good day or night. You can go for brunch on a Sunday or for a late dinner before going out on a Saturday. The Swan @ The Globe. Pretty, pretty view.

Do Try: Fish & chips, chorizo sandwiches {at Borough}, the savory pies, Earl Grey tea, Rachel’s yogurt, Digestives, Indian food on Brick Lane, a Sunday Roast at a pub, banoffee something, and Pimm’s. The Barclay’s bikes. OK, I didn’t actually do this one. I regret it.

City Tours: London Walks or New Europe for guided tours. Although the students didn’t love me dragging them to  a Jack the Ripper tour in the rain, I thought it was fun. Or just pick up a map or book on London Walks. I enjoyed strolling along the South Bank, Notting Hill, and the Holburn Area.

Parks: In order of my favorites – Hampstead Heath, Regent’s Park, and Hyde Park. Picnic in them if you can. At Hampstead, be sure to check out the view of London from Kite {or Parliament} Hill.

Resources: Time Out London and TFL journeyplanner {for checking Tube delays/closures and directions}

Other things:

My reads:

A mixture of guidebooks, maps, French language, food memoirs, Jane Austen, and Sookie Stackhouse books.

DSC_7534

My exercise plan:

I felt bad that I only ran twice and ended up throwing my running shoes away…..until the students showed me this!

DSC_7536

Our Last Day:

We spent our last day in Windsor, which was a fantastic ending to a fantastic month. Just a great group! The next day, I took the group to the airport. Sadness. Two days later, Laney arrived. Happiness!

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Up next: Laney Comes to London!

About these ads

About Sarah

Always thinking about my next meal.
This entry was posted in TRAVELS and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to The London Stage Recap

  1. Lesley says:

    What a gorgeous recap! You certainly made the most of London. I love watching Rick Steves! He’s a bit of a dork but he always looks at really interesting things and he’s very practical with lots of necessary info.

    • Sarah says:

      Thanks Lesley! I know what you mean about Rick Steves. He’s a hoot alright, but gives good advice. I really enjoy his guidebooks.

  2. Pingback: Laney arrives and walks all over London | daily nibbles

  3. Pingback: Day 3 Recap: Camden Market and playing Scrabble in the Heath | daily nibbles

  4. Pingback: Day 4 Recap: Edinburgh, Part I | daily nibbles

  5. Pingback: Day 5 Recap: Edinburgh, Part II | daily nibbles

  6. Pingback: Day 6 Recap: Good-bye London, Hello Paris | daily nibbles

  7. Pingback: Day 7 Recap: Walking tour, Eiffel Tower, & Vedettes de Pont Neuf! | daily nibbles

  8. Pingback: Day 8 Recap: Paris in Pictures | daily nibbles

  9. Pingback: Day 9 Recap: Last full day in Paris! | daily nibbles

  10. Pingback: Day 5 Recap: Edinburgh, Part II « DAILY NIBBLES

  11. Pingback: Day 10: My last morning in Paris « DAILY NIBBLES

  12. Pingback: 25 Favorites from 2011. « DAILY NIBBLES

Add your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s