Just spent Christmas week in London

Old Dec 30th, 2006, 10:16 AM
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Just spent Christmas week in London

We had a week in London over Christmas, arriving 23 Dec and leaving 30 Dec. Weather was cold with occasional blue skies, no rain at all. We wore coats, fleeces and gloves every day.

First visit was to Borough Market which was jam-packed with people buying food for Christmas. The choice and quality is fantastic, we bought far too much food and staggered to a nearby tearoom/tea museum for a cuppa. The market is next to Southwark Cathedral.

We had booked tickets for the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower at 9.30pm and enjoyed it. Tickets are free but you have to write a few months beforehand and the tickets are posted to you. It was freezing at the Tower, there was an ice skating rink set up in the moat and that made it feel even colder.

A quick trip to Oxford St on Boxing Day, about half the shops were open and it was like a zoo, incredibly busy, not very pleasant for shopping. We didn't stay long.

We thought the Christmas lights in London would be wonderful but the only place we saw with good lights was Regent St, the rest were pretty dull.

Had a trip to Wimbledon to exchange our Australian drivers licences for UK licences (we've moved to the UK to live) then back to the Victoria and Albert museum for a few hours, free entry, had a nice lunch in the cafe there.

Had dinner and some great jazz in the crypt at St Martin in the Fields in Trafalgar Square. Booked tickets in advance through the SMITF website, the jazz group T J Johnson's Bourbon Kick was terrific.

Bought tickets for Amy's View at the Half Price Tkts booth at Leicester Square, 25 pounds each, great seats four rows from the front. Had a walk down to St James Park and the 'Inn the Park' cafe, wouldn't bother again with the cafe, hardly anywhere to sit inside and not much choice in food.

Tried to visit Westminster Abbey but even though the website said they were open until 3.45pm, last visitors were allowed in at 1.45pm. We were disappointed but will go another time.

Photographed the sign reading Platform 9 3/4 of Harry Potter fame that is just off Platform 8 at Kings Cross station (just near the Left Luggage office).

We booked an apartment to stay in through the VRBO website which didn't start off particularly smoothly but turned out OK in the end. A few weeks before Christmas we were asked to move to number 2 apartment because of problems at number 1 apartment. After 24 hours in number 2, we moved out to flat number 3, because some things didn't work in number 2. Were very happy in the end with number 3 flat but could have done without the hassles.

Kay
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Old Dec 30th, 2006, 10:58 AM
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Thanks for the report, KayF. Sounds like you had a fun, if chilly, visit to London. I'm looking forward to our return visit to the Borough Market in March.
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Old Dec 30th, 2006, 12:07 PM
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Lovely report. Sounds like fun. Thanks!
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Old Dec 30th, 2006, 12:18 PM
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Thanks, I get so much info from this wonderful forum for our trips, I thought it time I actually wrote something. We've been so busy this year, moving to another country, travelling heaps (and working!) that I haven't generally had time for any reports. Hope this info is useful.
Kay
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Old Dec 30th, 2006, 12:18 PM
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We went last year, and I know what you mean about the lights. We thought too the only neat ones were on Regent Street, but I thought I had heard there were so many other great lights in London -- we never saw them. The other thing that surprised us was that Christmas Eve we hurried down to Trafalgar Square expecting a Rockefeller Center type tree, and instead there was a scrawny bush, practically undecorated. I don't know where I read that the Trafalgar tree is a "don't miss".
But isn't London fun at Christmas?

Mind telling us which VRBO flats those were? Enquiring minds want to know.
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Old Dec 30th, 2006, 12:24 PM
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Hi NeoPatrick,
We thought the Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square was disappointing too, very plain. We love London at any time of the year, such a vibrant city with so much to see and do.

The original flat I booked on VRBO seems to be no longer listed. If you click on my name you'll see I asked if anyone had experience with the agents. I couldn't find flat no.2 or 3 on VRBO either, sorry. I do have the addresses if that helps at all. I didn't actually see flat no.1, couldn't really recommend flat no.2 and loved flat no. 3 so if you want more info, feel free to ask.
Kay
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Old Dec 30th, 2006, 06:57 PM
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The Trafalgar Square Christmas tree doesn't look either scrawny or lacking in lights on my web cam picture.

The web cam's here:

http://www.camvista.com/england/london/trafsq.php3


Tree info is here:
http://www.viewlondon.co.uk/trafalga...ree_index.html
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Old Dec 31st, 2006, 01:10 AM
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As for christmas lights, don't expect glittery assortment of colours. Our sorts seem to be more reserved (ok call it duller) than what I've seen in the US.
Aside from the well-publicised ones at Oxford St and Regent St, the charming ones are St Christopher's Place, Carnaby St. and Old Bond St in my view.
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Old Dec 31st, 2006, 05:53 AM
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Barbara, actually that tree looks better than what I remember last year.
But I guess "practically undecorated" is in the eye of the beholder.

According to that second website you gave, the Trafalgar Square tree is decorated with "500 white lights" (I know people who put that many on their 6 foot home tree!) and no other ornaments at all. The Rockefeller Center tree is "covered with over 30,000 multi colored lights and topped with a Swarovski crystal star". I rest my case.

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Old Dec 31st, 2006, 08:40 AM
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Thanks for writing your report. I enjoyed it.
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Old Dec 31st, 2006, 08:45 AM
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Patrick I must say I prefer multi-colored lights also. Maybe the number of actual bulbs depends on the size of the bulb? I think the ones in London are regular-sized light bulbs. I know in Edinburgh they are. Maybe the Rockefeller Center has Christmas tree lights, which would give a much prettier effect.
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