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    by mkataoka Fodor's Editor | Posted on Nov 28, 16 at 01:31 PM
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Trip Report London, the West End, and a chap named Lee Mead

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I am always hesitant to write a trip report because my trips to London are not the usual. I have friends who live there and graciously extend hospitality for my stay - so I have no hotels to speak of. And I am not a foodie so, with rare exceptions, I usually eat on the go. Also my trips are heavy on the theatre and mostly revolve around one or two (or more) concerts by a singer/actor named Lee Mead.

Just FYI, Lee Mead won a 2007 BBC competition program by Andrew Lloyd Webber to find a young man to star in a revival of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in the West End. The program was shown in the US on BBC America - a year after the fact (Any Dream Will Do) - so I never saw Lee in Joseph, but I have seen him in several things since, such as Wicked, Legally Blonde, Panto, and quite a few concerts. This trip would take me to two concerts - one in High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire and the other in Clacton-on-Sea in Essex. Overnight stays, but an easy train ride from London for each.

However, I also do quite a lot of other things that may be of interest so I decided to write a trip report this time. So, if I haven't lost you yet, here it is. :)

I left on a Wednesday evening. I had booked my flight with Virgin Atlantic. I enjoy traveling VA because I feel there is a bit more room in the seat. This may or may not be true, but I have felt very comfortable on previous flights. (Also free booze, but that is a non-issue since I don't drink on the flight anyway.)

However, imagine my chagrin when I booked with VA and was issued a reservation with Delta!!!! Foreboding begins . . . Apparently, VA does not do the later evening flights from LAX and so partners with Delta to take them. Nice to know for future reference, although I must say, I have no complaints about this particular Delta flight.

Seats were two on the side instead of the sometimes three, so it was quite comfortable - for me anyway. Not so much for the very attractive British man sitting beside me who had legs much longer than mine. :) I always take half an ambien on the flight to the UK since it is an overnight flight and apparently I slept quite well (I have the uncomfortable feeling I may have been snoring). I awoke with only 1-1/2 hours left in the flight.

British customs are always so easy and I was at the arrivals area meeting my driver from justairports in no time at all. I had hit an ATM in the arrivals area (all terminals have them) and so had cash for the driver. An easy ride from the airport to my NW4 address and the total cost was £34 plus tip. I believe this is their flat rate for London. (http://www.justairports.com/)

First evening was spent resting and visiting with my friends. It always feels like home. :)

So Friday was my first full day. I was on my own this day and decided to do a London Walks (http://www.walks.com/) tour of Westminster Abbey. I had been to the Abbey my first trip several years ago and did the audio tour at that time. But I felt I needed to go again and decided to use London Walks - "The Secrets of Westminster Abbey" tour. Wow. More than I ever thought I wanted to know - but with humor. I love London Walks for this reason - they take their subject seriously but not solemnly, even when the subject is Westminster Abbey. Tour took about 2 hours, (which is usual for their tours) and cost £9 plus admission to the Abbey at a group discount rate. I did purchase a discount card (£2) since I knew I would be taking several tours this trip. The discount card is good for 30 days and saves £2 on each subsequent tour.

After a quick bite to eat, I headed to the Tower because I really wanted to see the poppies in the moat.

From their website (http://poppies.hrp.org.uk/):

"The major art installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London, marked one hundred years since the first full day of Britain's involvement in the First World War. Created by artists Paul Cummins and Tom Piper, 888,246 ceramic poppies progressively filled the Tower's famous moat between 17 July and 11 November 2014. Each poppy represented a British military fatality during the war.

"The poppies encircled the iconic landmark, creating not only a spectacular display visible from all around the Tower but also a location for personal reflection. The scale of the installation was intended to reflect the magnitude of such an important centenary and create a powerful visual commemoration.

"All of the poppies that made up the installation were sold, raising millions of pounds which were shared equally amongst six service charities."


It was indeed spectacular and moving and very beautiful. It was also packed with people since it was mid afternoon on the Friday before Remembrance Sunday. Not the best timing, but the best I could do and at least I did see it.

Afterwards, I headed back to my friends for dinner and a relaxing evening.

More later - have to pick up hubs at Long Beach airport and it has just started raining - glory be! We do need the rain. :)

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