Back from London - Sort of a Trip Report

Apr 27th, 2000, 02:36 PM
  #1  
Lori
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Back from London - Sort of a Trip Report

Hi all of you out there & Elvira if loons are water birds they would have loved London this month!

I've got jet lag right now but will try and hit some of the highlights (maybe lowlights) of our trip. Thankfully we have been to London many times so the rain did not interfere much as we did not have to do the major sights, but on occasion it did bring to mind "rain rain go away". No matter we had a great time, rain and all.

The Flight: We flew British Airways from LA. This time they were not so fussy about the 13 lb. weight limit on carryons, nor were they restricting folks to 1 carryon per person. We only had one each but we saw many people with 2. The flight was full, the food was OK, it took just over 10 hours and there is no way to make that a lot of fun! Return flight also full, food was so-so, most people had at least 2 carryons and some must have weighed 100 lbs by the looks of them. BA luggage handlers broke a lock on one of our bags and a foot off another, first time this has ever happened, anywhere/anyplace. We stayed overnight in LA before coming back to AZ and had to dig up another lock.

The Apartment: We made arrangements again with Nick Price, Price Apartments. Nick's wonderful (I get nothing from recommending him, we just think he's a good guy with fair prices). We had the same apt. we had last time, on Balcombe St. about 3 blocks from Regent's Park, 3 blocks from Baker St tube/buses, and 1 block from Marylebone tube/station. Great location - around the corner from Dorset Sq. too. We rent a studio, a large livingroom/bedroom combo room and separate small kitchen & a bathroom. It's more than enough room for 2 people and having a kitchen is great. Nick has just remodeled a 2 bdrm 1 1/2 bath flat in the same bldg. if anyone cares to know about it we saw it and it looks real nice. Nick has an associate who will pick you up at Heathrow (and take you back out) for 30 pounds and we always use Michael - it's so wonderful to come out and find him ready to take us into town - no hassle no bother, well worth the money, and Michael is quite a character as well so the ride is entertaining too.

The Shows:
Momma Mia - was beyond great! Utterly marvelous. We had 2nd row seats, we wanted to go back and see it again but could not get tickets (Ok you could get them but we can't afford $300). If you love music, an entertaining show, Abba songs, go for it.
The Lion King - so so ... we were not impressed altho we had front row seats and got to admire the wonderful costumes. I'd rate it a 5 on the 1 to 10 scale.
Fosse - fun show if you enjoy dancing, if not skip it. We had 4th row/center seats and actually had a hard time seeing the stage because the rows have barely no slant to them and the people in front of us were "large" folks - hence we missed most center stage action. Lots of high energy dancing. Nicola Hughes is featured, we saw her last in Chicago, she is very good.
Michael Crawford Concert - if you are not familiar with Michael he's done a lot of British t.v. and was the original Phantom in Phantom of the Opera on Broadway & LA (where we saw the show several times). His guest was Dale Kristien who played Christine Daae on Broadway & LA - needlesstosay they did several Phantom numbers. The show was really good, even my husband enjoyed it and he was not terribly thrilled when I bought tickets. Royal Festival Hall needs to update their acoustics (will in 2001) but it's a very nice concert hall, we enjoyed it.

The London Eye:
OK folks - this is it - it's definately worth it despite the agony I went through with their telephone ticket ordering process. It did not rain the a.m. we went either which made it even better!! Our time was 10:30, we got there at 9:45 - no lines anyplace (lots of mud in what will eventually be a garden tho). We went in to pick up our tickets, walked right to the counter and lo and behold they had no record of our reservation!!! After checking the computer many times they finally believed us, particularly when my husband told them we already had been billed on Visa for it. They gave us a ticket and sent us on our way, but not before I wrote up a formal complaint about their tele. order system and left it at the desk (in the mail today at home was an apology from "the eye" going on about how they were striving to improve their system and it would improve in time).
We walked right on the capsule which does not stop as it picks up people. Each capsule holds 24 and a "guide". Ours had about 18. There is plenty of room to see, take pictures and sit down. It moves very slowly, so slowly you do not realize it is even moving. The view is fantastic, about 25 miles in all directions. Pictures will come out OK through the capsule windows, ours did - we just picked them up. All the famous landmarks are clearly visible (and looking small too .. Buckingham Palace looks very tiny for example). The ride takes 30 minutes and is well worth it (perhaps not in the rain tho) if you go on a sunny day as we did. When we came off the lines were forming and it looked like people were in for a long wait. You could buy tickets for the same day tho or in advance. I think it was particularly crowded later (not our "flight") when we came out because of all the Easter visitors in London tho. They sell a particularly nice guide book and history of the building of the Eye. I think it was 5 pounds, well worth it.

I will continue this shortly in another post.
 
Apr 27th, 2000, 07:54 PM
  #2  
Michele
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Lori-Thanks for your report! I especially liked the detailed description about the London Eye. I was thinking of passing on it, but just might decide to go.....

Your flight sounds similar to ours, but we're coming from San Francisco. A friend recommended that we get up extra early the day we're leaving so we'll be tired and sleep on our 5:20p flight. (I never have any troubles sleeping--I have a toddler who runs me ragged and who's staying home, so I will just bask in the "silence"!)
 
Apr 28th, 2000, 05:44 AM
  #3  
Margie
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Thanks Lori,I just read the rest of your reports too, you have given me some ideas of where I can take my mother on our fall visit. The London Eye sounds really worthwhile.
 
Apr 28th, 2000, 06:03 AM
  #4  
Terry
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Hi, Lori. I have been eagerly awaiting your report on your London trip, and especially the London Eye experience. We have booked our reservations for the Eye through Global Tickets. A voucher for our reservations is supposed to be arriving in the mail any day now. Did British Airways send you any voucher or confirmation after booking via their phone system? Hopefully the voucher we are supposed to receive will eliminate this confusion. It certainly was more expensive to order through Global. At least $5.00 more per ticket, and they did not offer any child rate, which I understand is available in London. So good to hear how neat an experience you had once you were actually on the ride. Can't wait to go ourselves, in June. Thanks for the update. Look forward to hearing more.
 
Apr 28th, 2000, 06:22 AM
  #5  
Cross-legged
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Silly question: Do the capsules have restrooms?
 
Apr 28th, 2000, 08:01 AM
  #6  
Lori
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Hi Terry,
No BA did not send us any voucher or reservation number, the phone systems advised us that our credit card number was our confirmation number or some such thing. I worried about that .. and justifiably so since they seem to have lost the booking. It's too bad there was no option for children via the Global system, but hopefully all this will eventually get ironed out. I hope you have a wonderful time on the ride tho, it was really a nice experience.

Ref: the restroom question ... if this is a really serious one no the capsules don't have them, I don't think you'd want one either since they are completely open (via windows) to the world!

For those that care, there are restrooms in the building where you collect your tickets. They are downstairs and were pretty crowded the day we were there, despite the fact that the "Eye" itself was not yet. There is a gift shop and a cafe as well.

To be honest the London Eye is not really well marked, of course you can find it because it is so huge but if you approach from the Hungerford Pedistrian Bridge across the Thames from Embankment Tube stop there are really no signs pointing which street gets you to it. It gives one the impression that not a lot of thought was put into signage - they do have some work to do yet I'd say, but next time we're in London I'd give it a go again, what the heck!

One other thing, the Eye is open till 10 p.m. but you cannot buy tickets that late. I think the sign said last tickets could be purchased at 6 p.m. so if you want to do a night flight you need to buy tickets ahead. I imagine it is lovely at night, we wanted to do it but never got back over there in the evening.
 
Apr 28th, 2000, 08:52 AM
  #7  
Sondra
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Dear Lori,
Thanks so much for your report on your London trip. I leave in a few weeks and am getting very excited. Unfortunetly, I did not get Mama Mia tickets in time and will see Chicago instead. I am hoping it will tour the US one day. We also leave from the west coast and am dreading the long, crowded flight. Also, I really want to thank you for being the London Eye expert. I read the forum and then was semi-prepared for the ordering of the eye tickets. We also did not recieve a confirmation number and I think I will bring my Visa statement as proof of billing. After everything you went through to get the tickets they should have compted you the flight! Thanks again for your report back.
 
Apr 28th, 2000, 09:01 AM
  #8  
Lori
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Sondra,
Definately take your Visa statement showing you paid for the Eye tickets, hopefully you won't need it but better to be prepared.

You will like Chicago I think - we saw it last year in London, it's a cute show & very high energy.

Don't dread the flight too much, it makes it worse -- I sort of think of it as an extra long day at work, something to endure and the end result is worth it (not to say it is fun tho by any means). Go and enjoy!!
 
Apr 28th, 2000, 09:17 AM
  #9  
Brian in Atlanta
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Lori, welcome back and thanks for the report. I have a very naive question:

What, exactly, is this London Eye thing? From the posts above, I have a guess, but don't want to look stupid by revealing it. Thanks.
 
Apr 28th, 2000, 12:33 PM
  #10  
Lori
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Hi Brian in Atlanta,
It's not a stupid question at all. The Eye is a 450 foot high wheel that rotates on some sort of spoke system very slowly (30 min. to make a complete circle). There are glass enclosed capsules affixed to the wheel, each capsule holds 24 people and weighs 1.5 ton. It's sort of like a ferris wheel but yet it is not, but that is the closest thing to describe it. The web site is www.ba-londoneye.com, there are pictures there.
 
Apr 28th, 2000, 05:35 PM
  #11  
Charlie Scruggs
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TERRY. I have vouchers from Global Tickets for May 23. Received them about 8-l0 days after telephoning them. Like Lori, we have 1030 AM flight time. Really looking forward to it. Charlie.
 
Apr 29th, 2000, 08:58 PM
  #12  
Terry
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Hey Charlie, our vouchers for our London Eye flight arrived in the mail today! Looks like we are set to go. If you get back from your London trip before June 7th, please let me know how the process worked for you. Specifically, did you have to exchange your vouchers for different tickets before you could get in line for the capsule or did you just get in line and hand the vouchers to an operator. Just want to know before I waste precious sightseeing time in a line I don't need to be in. Thanks.
 
May 3rd, 2000, 04:45 PM
  #13  
Joe
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Lori,
what was your weather like and what type of clothing did you travel with...dark colors, light, heavy?
 
May 3rd, 2000, 07:12 PM
  #14  
Lori
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Joseph,
The weather ranged from about 45-60 with sun, rain, clouds, mist, rainbows, thunder, more sun, more rain .. you get the picture We took clothes we could layer and mostly in dark colors. Black pants (both my husband and myself), black shoes (2 pair), black raincoat (for me), he has a tan-ish all weather long jacket. I took 4 blazers - navy blue (to wear w/jeans), black & white, a brown/black/gold checkered one and a black "dressier" one that I used with black pants for the theater. My husband took 4 short sleeve shirts and wore a pull over sweater over them most of the time (once or twice it was warm enough to do without the sweater). He also took 2 pair of black shoes. I wore short sleeve tops (turtleneck) under the blazers. Last year the same time when we were there we did not need as many heavy clothes - we just go prepared for anything. I had a couple of lightweight tops along just in case & short sleeve shirts can go anyplace anytime so we were OK - just always figure layers and you are OK. Way back in '87 we ended up buying summer clothes because England was so hot that week - go figure!
 

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