Just Back: London-raves and advice

Old Jul 10th, 2001, 07:46 AM
Fair Oaks Jim
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Just Back: London-raves and advice

Our family of five (2 adults, 3 kids ages 14, 11, 9 ) Just got back this week from a week in London and a week in Paris. Here are a few observations.

o Climb to the top of dome at St. Paulís cathedral. I didnít realize you could go even higher than the Whispering Gallery. The views are stunning.

o Enjoy an Evensong service at 5 p.m. The choir is angelic. Watch closely, they even allow a small number to sit up the wooden quire area

o The London Eye is worth the time and money. Drop by and book for another day or later in the same day.

o At the Tower of London be sure to take the Warderís Tour that comes with the price of admission. This tour is always very informative and entertaining.

o For WWII buffs, donít miss the Cabinet War Rooms. Command central for British war operations in WWII. Exactly as it was then.

o The Imperial War Museum was one of our favorite visits. We took a free tour given by a WWII vet who had landed on Sword beach during D-Day. The WWI trench exhibit; the WWII Blitz exhibit and the Holocaust exhibit are all fantastic.

o If you are a Shakespeare lover, be sure to take the guided tour of the Globe Theatre at Bankside and see a play if you can. The guided tour is rich with great information about the Elizabethan theatre.

o We walked up to the box office on the day of the show to try and get tickets to Les Miserables. All they had for five together was 1st row which they described as "limited view" for 30 pounds each-about $42 each. You missed seeing full bodies at the very back of the stage a couple of times, but we thought they were great seats. Remember New York seats are pushing $90 now.

o Bloomsbury is a great location. Quiet, close to the tube, near the heart of London. Very close to British Museum

o Arran House Hotel on 77 Gower St. was as good as advertised. The full English breakfast was a great way to start each day. They have a computer in the lobby that you can rent. Make time to utilize the garden out back.

o North Sea Fish and Chips, 7-8 Leigh St, Bloomsbury. Very authentic fish and chips in a neighborhood not a tourist area.

o Carluccioís Several locations. Good creative italian. Loved their mushroom soup and calzone. Reasonably priced

o Take passport size photos and get Photocards made at a tube station which will allow you to get the cheapest rate on the passes. When you arrive get right in line at the Heathrow tube station at an Assistance window and they will make your photocard and your passes. They were very helpful.

o If you are looking for a great Christian church service, donít miss All Souls Church on Langham Place up from Oxford Circus. The building is stunning, built in 1824 as a national thanksgiving for the victory at Waterloo. They have services on Sunday morning at 9:30 and 11:30 and in the evenings on Sunday and Wednesday. Check their schedule of events at www.allsouls.org. John Stott was the rector there for 25 years and he still preaches once a month and he just turned 80 a couple of weeks ago. If you are staying in Bloomsbury, you can even walk there.
Old Jul 10th, 2001, 01:04 PM
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Do you need passport size photos? I had heard that you longer needed these.
Old Jul 10th, 2001, 01:31 PM
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FOJ -- thanks for a very nice and helpful account -- I enjoyed your list -- but probably because it would coincide with mine if I ever had enough non-working time in London to find out!
Old Jul 11th, 2001, 06:53 AM
david west
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for aja: you need one for a photo card. They won' sell you a weekly travelcard without one.

As an aside it is interesting to see others perceptions of one's own environment (which is why i read these posts). These recommendations are pretty well spot on though.
Old Jul 11th, 2001, 10:14 AM
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Did you get to see any plays? I saw "Blood Brothers" and just loved it. It was one of the best things I did in London.
Spent 10 days in Paris. The best was Versailles, D'orsay Museum and Giverny.
Old Aug 9th, 2001, 05:52 AM
elizabeth koch
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Does an Evensong service include a sermon? as well i read somewhere that the cathedral at Salisbury has a choral service on Fri nights. Does anyone know if this happens in Sept? are there any other cathedrals in/arond London that have choral services? I'd love to hear choral music in one of the big cathedrals.
Old Aug 9th, 2001, 06:57 AM
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When in England in June we attended evensong services at Wells Cathdral on a Sunday afternoon and at St. Paul's on a Friday evening. The men and boys choirs at both cathedrals were amazing. However, all in our group thought the music was better at Wells. In Wells, perhaps because it was on a Sunday, the service was longer and included a brief sermon, if I remember correctly. At St. Paul's there was no sermon. In Wells, there was more opportunity for us to take part in the service -----singing and prayers, which I enjoyed. We had wanted to attend Evensong at Westminster as well, while in London, but just ran out of time. Both St.Paul's and Westminster have websites which state their service schedules. By the way, when you attend a service at a cathedral, you do not have to pay an entrance fee. Just tell them you are there for services as you enter. Also, tourist attire is acceptable and arrive early to get a good seat in the quire.
Old Aug 9th, 2001, 06:58 AM
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Most Cathedrals throughout the country will have some sung services, although the schedule is dependent on the school calendar. Usually the posted schedule will distinguish between services which are "sung" or "spoken". (I don't recall specifically if Evensong includes a sermon; I do know that Matins does.)

I've attended services in Westminster Abbey, St Paul's and Lincoln Cathedrals and Christ Church Chapel (Oxford). In all of these I've been able to sit in the Quire without any special exertion on my part.

Many Cathedrals also offer classical music performances, organ recitals, etc in addition to the regular worship services.
Old Aug 9th, 2001, 07:22 AM
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Re transportation passes
You only need photos if you buy your transportation passes in the UK. If you buy Visitor Travel Cards before you leave the states, photos are not required.
Old Aug 9th, 2001, 07:30 AM
elizabeth koch
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Thank you all so much for info on sung services. pardon my non-church background - what is the Quire?
Old Aug 9th, 2001, 07:39 AM
david west
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for Elizabeth:

The Quire is where the Choir sit. Quire is am old fashioned spelling. At my old school the choir scholars were called quiristers.

For sung services i wouldn't put st pauls at the top of the list (it is good though). I prefer Westminster Abbey (both have cathedral scholls to provide the choir/quire). THe cathloic churches of Westminster Cathedral and Bromton Oratory are also excellent, although from a different tradition.

For atmosheric music in churches keep an eye out for the candlight concerts at St Martin-in-the-field, in trafalgar square. These are excellent recitals in an ancient candlelit church. And the proceeds to a good cause.

Details are available in time out, or from the church itself.
Old Aug 9th, 2001, 07:57 AM
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Any Paris Raves and Advice?
Old Aug 9th, 2001, 08:46 AM
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regarding the tube travel cards: you only need a photo if you are buying a 7-day travel card. it's important to keep in mind that if you are coming over for less than that it's not worth the money, or if you are not planning to use the tube everday. daily travel cards for bus/tube cost four pounds (about $5.50) and daily bus passes two pounds (about $2.75). i believe 7 day travel cards are about 21 pounds ($30)-higher when you add in the cost of the photo.

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