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vinonobile987 May 14th, 2019 01:48 PM

London Trip Report - April 2019 (fourth trip to London)
Finally, I found some time at least to start writing my trip report. It was my fourth trip to London and it would have not been so wonderful without all amazing help I received from very knowledgeable Fodorites. My special thanks go to Janisj - her knowledge of London and England is just second to none.

Here is the link to my planning thread:

This particular trip was a solo one - my husband had decided to stay home repeatedly telling me that I am crazy to return to London after we have just been there in September 2018. Well, the whole point for me was to return to London because I missed one of my favorite European cities so much and it just seemed right to me. I love solo trips, eating alone - not so much; my report is not for foodies.


A little background on our previous trips to London. Our first visit dates back to November 1998, the weather was dismal, the trees were bare, the hotel was horrendous, but it did not prevent me to fall in love with London once and for good. We had toured The Tower, visited Hampton Court, British Museum, National Gallery, Courtauld Collection, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, all the parks, walked for hours and hours, went to the theaters... We were also very lucky to attend some heated discussions in the Parliament.

Our second trip was two weeks long after a very long break: we did it in May 2014 and mostly for day trips, which both my husband and I love. We tend not to combine multiple destinations and usually dedicate a day for one town. So we had done totally fantastic and very easy day trips to Windsor, Oxford, Cambridge, St.Albans, Salisbury and Stonehenge, phenomenal Dover Castle, and charming Bath. Looking back, I regret not staying in Bath overnight - the harmony and elegance of its Georgian architecture really appealed to me... We also discovered a real gem in London: on one rainy day, we went to the Wallace Collection, was one of those places I did not want to leave...

Our third trip was in September 2018. We did not repeat our mistake with Bath and stayed in lovely York for two nights. I was totally “glued” to York Minster - sounds funny, but I was there four times over the course of two days. Then we had a wonderful time in Scotland and returned to London before flying back home. In London, we took a Royal Day Out tour visiting all three venues at Buckingham Palace: the State Rooms, The Queen's Gallery and the Royal Mews. Fascinating! The next day was totally dedicated to Westminster Abbey (in detail) and to Churchill’s War Rooms, where we spent four hours and could have stayed longer, but we were the last couple to leave😊. And we walked in our favorite St.James Park, Green Park and Hyde Park despite cold and wet weather. So after this particular trip I was adamant to return soon and I did it!

Enough history and here is my trip report (I will be posting for each day).


My flight to London from Boston was excellent: I love Delta. I managed to change my seat to a more comfortable one, had no neighbors, had relatively good sleep, passed LHR security in 30 minutes, bought my Oyster Card, took Piccadilly Line to my hotel, AC Xenia by Marriott, and my room was waiting for me at 10:00 AM in the morning- what a nice surprise (I had called them from home and asked for the early check-in of course). My room was tiny but well appointed and they even brought a small refrigerator per my request (I needed it badly for my in-room breakfasts - it saved a lot of time for my busy mornings and I was able to eat the light breakfast I am so used to).

After a quick shower, I walked for 20 minutes to Kensington Palace, bought my Historic Royal Palaces membership for £53 and was all set for “skip the line” visits to The Tower, Kensington Palace, Banqueting House, Hampton Court Palace and Gardens and Kew Palace (it does NOT include Kew Gardens, just the Palace and the Pagoda). Here is the link - it makes sense to buy the membership for those who want to visit all five attractions.

I was underwhelmed by Kensington Palace (expected...), but Kensington Gardens were lovely on a bright unusually warm and sunny day. The walk to V&A was so refreshing that my jet lag was completely gone.

I passed by the Prince Albert Memorial, Royal Albert Hall and continued to V&A Museum in hope to buy tickets to the Mary Quant Exhibit (I already had my Christian Dior exhibit ticket, which I had ordered in early February). Busy day, I know... this is why my lunch was really quick at one of the cozy V&A cafes (I had a delicious multi-grain baguette sandwich with roasted eggplant and goat cheese with a cup of coffee).

I started with the Mary Quant Exhibit (the tickets were readily available). Her design is so refreshing, liberating and elegant without any redundancy. Her dresses are to wear and enjoy every day, her mini-skirts are adorable and reminded me of my youth... In her design, you can clearly see a shift from dresses good for housewives to simple and elegant attire of professional women. I am a pro, so maybe this is why I loved her outfits so much😊.

And after that, it was 15:30pm, the time for my dream to come true... the Christian Dior, Designer of Dreams, was waiting for me. I think you should be a poet to describe what I have seen and I am clearly not, so my advice is: do EVERYTHING you can to visit this exhibit. I stayed there till closing admiring Dior’s dresses as well as delightful creations of his followers (Yves Saint Laurent, Gianfranco Ferre, John Galliano, Raf Simons, Maria Grazia Chiuri). It was a feast of boundless creativity, elegance, imagination... a true celebration a woman... Magical! I certainly bought a catalog and proudly brought it home to entertain my fashion queen Mom (she is 86 and still gorgeous).

Well, I left V&A reluctantly shortly before 6pm sadly realizing that I did not have any time left for the museum itself, one of my favorite museums in the whole world. I firmly decided to reshuffle my future plans in favor of V&A.

After this very busy first day, I slowly walked back to my hotel (I love South Kensington and Earls Court), stopped by at Sainsbury to stock up for breakfasts and buy some healthy snacks, decided to grab something simple for supper because had not strength to go out. Had a cup of tea with a very light meal, called home, and crashed...Slept for 8 hours and was ready to roll tomorrow.

To be continued... and I promise my future installments will be shorter.

janisj May 14th, 2019 05:33 PM

Ooh goody -- looking forward to the rest!

Finally just booked my flights to see the Dior. A mere week July 7-14 and only booked the first three nights in London -- haven't decide what to do the other 4 nights -- maybe in London or maybe somewhere else. Decisions. Hope I'm as lucky with the weather . . .

vinonobile987 May 14th, 2019 07:36 PM

I am sure you will be fine with the weather in July, Janisj! And Dior alone is worth a trip... one of a kind experience for sure. Enjoy! I miss London already 😊.

janisj May 14th, 2019 08:54 PM

>>I am sure you will be fine with the weather in July,<<

Well - fingers crossed. I've been bloody cold (and wet) in July and HOT, two years apart. This trip is primarily for the Dior and maybe a couple of GTG's - and I'll try to fit in the last day of the Hampton Court flower show. :tulip: ((w))

Odin May 15th, 2019 10:35 AM

The last day at Hampton Court Flower Show isn’t a good day to go. Things start winding down early afternoon and flowers get sold off.

vinonobile987 May 15th, 2019 01:03 PM

Day 2
London Trip Report - April 23rd 2019 - DAY 2

Woke up to a chilly but sunny morning, had quick breakfast enjoying yogurt with delicious blueberries, strawberries and raspberries. I noticed that berries in London taste much better than in my home town (Boston, US) - loved their sweetness and flavor.

Took a tube to Tower Hill and started with visiting the oldest church in London, All-Hallows-by-the-Tower. Very interesting connections to American history: John Quincy Adams was married in this church, William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania, was baptized there... The artifacts in the Crypt are quite interesting too and the organ is beautiful.

Luckily, I was early enough for visiting The Tower. No wait in line to enter with my HRP membership card - nice! And the 30 minutes Yeoman Warder Tour started 5 minutes after I passed through security. The tour was so good - we had taken it back in 1998 and I was very happy to refresh my memory again.

After that, I headed directly to The Crown Jewels - good move because later in the day the line has become really long: school vacation... expected.

The mighty White Tower was not too crowded and I enjoyed revisiting the Armory and the New Horse Armory as well as the St John’s Chapel. I also liked the wall walk with superb views of the Thames and the Tower Bridge. And big brave ravens were very entertaining: they came really close and gave me that puzzled look: “Why are you staring at me?”😊.

My last stops were at the exhibit “Imprisonments in The Tower” and visit to The Chapel of St Peter ad Vincola, the burial place of Henry VIII’s wives - Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard. Lady Jane Grey is also buried there. And the execution place at the Tower, Tower Green and the Scaffold Site, is right next to the Chapel - the modern monument seems to be slightly out of place there, but it is just my opinion.

In total, I spent almost 4 hours at The Tower and it was time for lunch, but not before I took some good shots of The Tower Bridge and the Traitors’ Gate.

I headed back to the All-Hallows-by-the-Tower Church to the “Byward Kitchen and Bar” for lunch. Was not impressed by my spinach and potatoes soup and watery coffee with tasteless slice of cake. Also, they can win a prize for the dirtiest toilets - that’s a real shame.

After lunch, I realized that I have enough time for the Banqueting House, so I took a tube to Charing Cross, quickly picked up my theater tickets at the Playhouse Theater (“Fiddler on the Roof”) and at the Wyndham Theater (Arthur Miller’s “The Price”) and waked to the nearby Banqueting House. Noticed a big crowd of tourists waiting for the Royal Equestrian Guard and decided not to join them (I had seen it before many times).

The Banqueting House was spectacular and completely empty - I guess majority of tourists do not even know about Inigo Jones’s masterpiece with its famous ceilings painted by Rubens. I took an audio guide (included with the RHP membership and regular tickets) and learned many interesting facts about the last days of Charles I (The Banqueting House is the place of his execution). It is so sad that this magnificent room is the only surviving part of the Whitehall Palace lost in a fire in 1698. I can only imagine how gorgeous the Whitehall Palace was... Unexpectedly, I spent almost 2 hours there despite the fact that it is just one room to see... I guess I was just carried away by the very informative audio guide.

Then I headed to Trafalgar Square. Luckily, notorious “Extinction Rebellion” demonstration has come to its end and Trafalgar Square was back to its normal hustling and bustling life. I have never been to the Church of St.Martin-in-the-Fields, so I went there and decided to have light dinner in the Crypt cafe. Big mistake: my ricotta and broccoli quiche with beetroot salad were terrible. But bad dinner saved me an hour for the National Portrait Gallery, where I concentrated on the portraits of The Tudors and The Stuarts.

Unfortunately, the Gallery was closing at 6pm, so I headed back to the Playhouse Theater and to the beautiful Victoria Embankment Gardens full of lovely flower beds and impressive monuments. Then I took a short detour from the Playhouse Theater to the equally beautiful Whitehall Gardens (the tulips there were simply stunning) and strolled back to the theater on the Embankment enjoying the view of the Cleopatra’s Needle and London’s Eye.

Finally, it was time for the “Fiddler on the Roof” at the Playhouse Theater. Luckily, I ordered my tickets online a week before coming to London: it was a sold out performance. I was not sure if it is worth seeing it because I had very little hope that it could be even remotely comparable with the film. Who can surpass Topol’s Tevye? But I was pleasantly surprised: the performance was excellent; acting, singing, dancing, stage direction, artistic design - everything was superb. Admittedly, not as good as the movie, but I am not trying to compare: seeing “Fiddler on the Roof” on stage was a totally different experience and sitting in the 5th row very close to the stage was a huge advantage. The audience was bursting with laughs, many of us shed some tears at the end, and everyone gave a standing ovation to the brilliant young cast.

Janisj, if the show is still on in July, I highly recommend seeing it.

Another busy day came to its end and I returned to my hotel very happy humming songs from the Fiddler. Called home and told my husband how wrong he was not to accompany me to London.

janisj May 15th, 2019 04:26 PM

Odin: >>The last day at Hampton Court Flower Show isn’t a good day to go<<

I know but I arrive at LHR late morning on the last day of the show . . . If it isn't then I'll have to wait til next year :)

vinonobile987: >>Janisj, if the show is still on in July, I highly recommend seeing it.<<

You mean Fiddler on the Roof? if so, it is on my short list. Haven't made definite decision if I'm staying the entire week in London or heading elsewhere.

vinonobile987 May 15th, 2019 05:06 PM

Yes, I meant Fiddler on the Roof.

Will write about “The Price” tomorrow - real masterpiece.

walkinaround May 16th, 2019 09:49 AM

Originally Posted by vinonobile987 (Post 16919743)
London Trip Report - April 23rd 2019 - DAY 2

... I have never been to the Church of St.Martin-in-the-Fields, so I went there and decided to have light dinner in the Crypt cafe. Big mistake: my ricotta and broccoli quiche with beetroot salad were terrible
...and everyone gave a standing ovation to the brilliant young cast.

Wow, standing O in London is EXTREMELY rare.

Cafe in the Crypt is way overrated as a food/drink destination for tourists and others. It's a cafeteria. The atmosphere is also like a cafeteria. Not atmospheric as one might expect in a subterranean crypt. It's usually very crowded. Loud. Lots of people milling about as they circle around carrying their trays looking for free tables. Tables often heaping with dirty dishes and glasses long after the customer has left. I never enjoyed that place.

It's a shame because they could have done so much better with that beautiful space but it's completely ruined by a very ugly and ramshackle serving area and cheap, ugly tables and chairs skidding along ancient tombstones. It's really depressing when you consider how peaceful and atmospheric that space could be. Very out of character with what (in my opinion) an old burial ground should be. Even if you remove that last point, it's still a nasty place.

And the church does great work so I hate to say all of this.

janisj May 16th, 2019 09:57 AM

>>Wow, standing O in London is EXTREMELY rare.<<

Not any more unfortunately. It seems 'American customs' like giving a Standing O to any ole performance are creeping in more and more -- juts like tipping and service charges . . . A standing O is still not the norm for most dramas though I have see a few, but after the big musicals . . . every bleedin' time.

I agree re the Crypt. I do go down there sometimes when it is the most convenient place at the moment -- but I never go there as a destination. Noisy and the food is hit or miss. Usually I just visit when I want a quick cup of tea / pastry. It does have a bit of a cult following.

vinonobile987 May 16th, 2019 10:02 AM

I agree with every word you said, walkinaround!

I was quiet surprised to see standing ovation in London but the audience literally did not want to let the cast go. Everyone, including the actors, was so excited! Many of us left the theater singing the songs from Fiddler, some of us loudly (I was just humming)... I bought my tickets following my 89 year old father’s wise advise... he said: “There are certain things you have to see, if you get a chance. This Fiddler on the Roof performance is one of those things, so order your tickets quickly”. I called him after the performance and shared my excitement with him. Oh, my husband missed so much!😊

The Crypt Cafe at the Church of St Martin-in-the-Fields was a complete let down. My worst meal in London for sure, dirty trays and tables, dark, depressing... The only advantage was clean toilets. I should have gone to the National Gallery Cafe.

Trophywife007 May 16th, 2019 10:15 AM

Signing on to join your tour. Loving your report!

walkinaround May 16th, 2019 10:56 AM

Originally Posted by janisj (Post 16920303)
>>Wow, standing O in London is EXTREMELY rare.<<

Not any more unfortunately. It seems 'American customs' like giving a Standing O to any ole performance are creeping in more and more -- juts like tipping and service charges . . . A standing O is still not the norm for most dramas though I have see a few, but after the big musicals . . . every bleedin' time.

I agree re the Crypt. I do go down there sometimes when it is the most convenient place at the moment -- but I never go there as a destination. Noisy and the food is hit or miss. Usually I just visit when I want a quick cup of tea / pastry. It does have a bit of a cult following.

The last London standing O that I experienced was at Hamilton about a year and a half ago. But I figured, well that's Hamilton. i don't go to many musicals so I missed it creeping in.

Yes, I never understood the cult following (as well as the often given advice to tourists to go there). I only made those comments because it is highly spoken of by many with a reputation that is completely undeserved. If I'm caught in the rain in that area and starving or in dire need to get off my feet for a few minutes, I MIGHT duck in for a cup. Better options in the area include The Garrick Arms pub, Terriors wine bar, Notes Coffee, or Cork and Bottle Wine Bar (if you wish to be in a 'crypt' -- of sorts).

vinonobile987 May 16th, 2019 01:02 PM

Thank you for joining my trip, Trophywife007!

I am the one who is in favor of standing ovations, but I am NOT in favor of loud screaming “Bravo” or whistling as a token of appreciation. It drives me insane at the Met Opera in NYC, where I go frequently.

I also not a huge fan of musicals, but I adore “Fiddler on the Roof” and “A Chorus Line” simply because they are so meaningful and thought provoking. And the music, singing and dancing are amazing of course.

I honestly do not understand all the fuss about “Hamilton” or many other musicals for that matter. But it is just me - I am in minority, I know that.

Working on my DAY 3 write up as we speak.

vinonobile987 May 16th, 2019 02:26 PM

Day 3
London Trip Report - April 24th 2019 - DAY 3

Well, no sunshine in the morning, the temperature has dropped and rain was in the forecast. I was not too upset because I planned to spend almost the whole day in the National Gallery.

After breakfast, I was pleasantly surprised: gray skies but no rain yet, so I decided to get off at St.James Park Tube station and go for a short walk in my favorite London park. Got out of the station and the rain was pouring. I cane prepared though: had my loyal The North Face gore-tex jacket on and it protected me from getting wet better than any umbrella. Yes, the rain was pouring, but it miraculously stopped as soon as I entered St.James Park and I walked to Trafalgar Square saying hello to ducks and swans along the way. I missed them very much since we had met each other back in September 2018.😊

The National Gallery took much more time than I have originally planned, so no time was left for the National Portrait Gallery yet again... I started with my favorite Renaissance painters, spent plenty of time enjoying my all time favorites, Leonardo’s “Virgin of the Rocks”, Botticelli’s “Venus and Mars” and his portraits, amazing El Greco, phenomenal “Rokeby Venus” by Diego Velázquez, Van Eyck and Vermeer, Rembrandt’s portraits, which I had seen on display recently in the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh... the list is very, very long, so I do not want to bore you with it...

Around 2 pm the swarms of school children and all the noise have become unbearable, so I decided to take a break for lunch in the lovely National Gallery Cafe. Had a great lunch: avocado and feta cheese sandwich on delicious bread, mesclun salad and coffee. Service was so great!

After much needed lunch, I went to the Impressionists, the reason why I got stuck in the National Gallery for so long. What a stunning collection! The best Cezanne, Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, whom I adore... phenomenal Renoir’s portraits, beautiful Claude Monet’s landscapes, famous Manet’s paintings “The Music in the Tuileries” and “Execution of Maximilian”... I forgot about noisy school kids and completely drowned in the beauty of the paintings forgetting about everything around me. Forgot about time as well... I really had to hurry up, have a bite before the theater and move on.

I was not too hungry after lunch, so I stopped at the pretty Cafe Concerto for coffee and pastry. I knew it was a tourist trap and it was indeed. Had rather average strawberry tart, luckily not too sweet, and mediocre coffee.

Then I walked to the Wyndham Theater for the performance, Arthur Miller’s “The Price”, which I put on my plan back in January and bought my tickets in early April. Well, I knew it will be good but I never expected it to be so great. David Suchet as Gregory Solomon was phenomenal - he made me laugh, he made my cry, he made me think about the price we all pay... Brendan Coyle was sick, but his substitute did a decent job. The whole ensemble of four was unbeatable - in all honesty, this quality of drama performance you can see only in London. I was totally delighted. And guess what - standing ovation again😊!

It was very late when I returned to my hotel, so I went to bed right away but not before calling my husband telling him about my adventures and teasing him again: “Are you feeling jealous? Told you to join me”.😊

vinonobile987 May 17th, 2019 10:47 AM

Day 4 - Day trip to Winchester
London Trip Report - April 25th 2019 - DAY

I woke up early and was really happy to see the forecast for a windy but bright and sunny day. I made a perfect guess when I ordered my train tickets online - the weather looked perfect for my day trip to Winchester.

I took a tube to the Waterloo Station and arrived at 9:30am. It was enough time for me to pick up my train tickets from the machine both for Winchester and Canterbury. My train has departed on time, at 10:05am sharp, the train ride was very pleasant, the fields of yellow flowers outside looked gorgeous and I was admiring them almost all the way. Safely arrived to Winchester at 11:00am and walked to the town center, High Street, which is mostly pedestrian. I stopped at some lovely little shops along the way and bought a chocolate bar from Montezuma’s Chocolate. My usual luck with food choices: this nicely looking dark chocolate had no sugar in it at all and was so bitter that I hardly swallowed it.

I easily found the Tourist Office, thanks to the excellent signage on the High Street, and bought my ticket for the town walking tour at 2pm (£10).

After that, I headed to Winchester Cathedral; luckily there was no line to buy tickets and only because I was ahead of at least five groups of school kids. The ticket costs £8.50 (concession price is £6.50) and it includes the Cathedral tour, which was very interesting. The story of the diver, William Walker, who saved the Cathedral is a true example of heroism and self sacrifice. For those who are interested, here is the link:

William Walker: The diver who saved the Cathedral - Winchester Cathedral : Winchester Cathedral

Both the exterior and the interior of the Cathedral are stunning: beautiful long nave, the High Altar with an ornate 15th century stone screen, elaborate carvings of the choir stalls, vaulted ceiling - everything is in perfect harmony... one of the most impressive Gothic Cathedrals I have ever seen and I cannot even count how many of them I have seen. And the Norman style Crypt survived destructions over ages... it is almost scary to be there alone (I revisited it after the end of the Cathedral tour). Jane Austen’s simple gravestone, the brass plaque and the memorial window are in the of the north aisle of the nave and beautiful fresh flowers are always there. As so many talented writers and poets, she died very young, at the age of 41... sad...

So glad I spent two hours for the Cathedral and then found some time to come back after the walking tour - it helped me to keep the beauty of the interior better in my memory.

Time for lunch before the walking tour. I was attracted by the look of the little cozy, Chococo, so I went there - loved my thick veggie soup and cheese, tomato and chives scone, but coffee was watery as always.

At 2pm sharp I was near King Alfred’s Statue, where our charming and very enthusiastic guide, Kate, picked us up for the Lower Winchester walking tour. She was wonderful! She showed us so many real gems with fascinating history, Jane Austen’s House, the Cathedral Close and the Priory, we passed by Wolvesay Castle and she advised us to go there after the tour (I did that and took fabulous pictures of the ruins - very atmospheric)... We also walked along the lovely River Itchen and I returned there for a longer walk on my own... I highly recommend taking this walking tour - it is a great introduction to the history of ancient Winchester.

I was very reluctant to leave lovely Winchester, but my return train ticket was for 18:25pm... I should have booked a later train...

I did not realize how tired I was - I almost fell asleep on the train, so I quickly grabbed a salad at “Paul’s” across the street from the Earls Court tube station and called it a day.

vinonobile987 May 20th, 2019 01:48 PM

Day 5.
London Trip Report - April 26th 2019 - DAY 5

I decided not to rush, so I arrived to the St. Paul Cathedral shortly before 11:00 am just in time for the 90 minutes Vergers tour, which is included in the ticket price. I really liked it, but unfortunately our guide spoke very quietly and it was really hard to hear him. I wanted to go up to the Whispering Gallery but it was closed (a teen fell to his death from the gallery at the end of March). My husband and I had done the climb many years ago all the way to the roof and it was the most challenging one we had ever tried anywhere in the world.

The tour of the Crypt and the heroic history of the Cathedral during the WWII were the primary reasons I opted for a longer tour, but there are also 30 minute tours available for those who just want an overview.

I never expected to spend 3 hours in the Cathedral, but I did and am really happy about it: it was enough time to appreciate its beauty inside and outside and get a solid history lesson.

Then I followed Janisj’s advice and walked to the Guildhall (10 minutes walk from the St.Paul Cathedral), enjoyed it without any other visitors, and headed to lunch after it.

Had a great lunch at the stylish Cafe Nespresso (goat cheese sandwich with grapes and fig jam with arugula and two cups of Nespresso coffee).

After lunch I went for a long walk in the City, in elegant Holborn, crossed over Holborn Viaduct, and continued to the Sir John Soane’s Museum, where I arrived just in time before a little drizzle. Perfect timing!

I have mixed emotions about the Sir John Soane’s Museum. Although I fully appreciate the value of the treasures on display there, it was hard to follow because all the pieces are displayed preserving the order Sir John Soane had in his own house. It was very dark in the basement, the lighting in the rooms upstairs was poor as well, and the museum is so small and crammed that it reminded me the Old Curiosity Shop. But I am still glad I have been there and am very grateful to Janisj and others who advised me to visit this museum: it is certainly unique and worth seeing at least once.

Covent Garden was not far away, the drizzle has stopped, so I walked there and browsed in some lovely boutiques. And it was time for dinner before the ballet at the Royal Opera House: I had my tickets for the “Romeo and Juliet” booked back in February.

I stopped for dinner at the “Coté Bistro”, near the ROH, enjoyed delicious Ratatouille with goat cheese and couscous in tomato sauce with grilled vegetables and yogurt and mint, had a cup of coffee and was ready for the ROH.

I did not expect a stellar performance (there were no famous Russian dancers), but was pleasantly disappointed: the dancers were very good, especially Lauren Cuthbertson as Juliet, the Kenneth MacMillan's production was passionate and inspiring, the costumes were spectacular... I had a great seat and enjoyed my favorite ballet so much.

Was another busy day for me... finally made to the hotel around midnight.

vinonobile987 May 22nd, 2019 02:01 PM

Day 6
London Trip Report - April 27th 2019 - DAY 6

Not the best weather, but no rain in the morning. Very windy, so decided against my planned day trip to Hatfield House and headed to the Shakespeare Globe. Instead of crossing Millennium Bridge I crossed Southwark Bridge to get a better view of the Thames and Millennium Bridge. It was quite challenging to take pictures in the blistering wind, but I still managed to get some decent shots both from Southwark Bridge and from Southwark Embankment.
There was no line to buy tickets for the Shakespeare Globe tour and I even had fifteen spare minutes to warm up and watch very interesting dressing demonstration: now I know how tough it was to get dressed in the 16th century - way too many layers 😊.

The tour was mostly outside, so I had to fight the wind again... It was real fun to watch the rehearsal of the “King Henry IV” - all major male roles have been played by women. Very unconventional and I was not too keen to attend the performance; especially in this very cold weather. But it was completely sold out, so brave theater lovers still exist in our days, same as at the time of Shakespeare. I did enjoy the tour though and bought a little book about the Globe.

Tate Modern was nearby, so I headed right to the museum. I was there mostly for the building itself because I am not too crazy about ultra modern art, but I found quite many interesting things for myself (rather controversial Nan Goldin’s photography, very interesting paintings of pre-WWII German artists (1919-1930...). I enjoyed Modigliani, Picasso, Max Beckmann, wonderful Chagal’s “Blue Circus”... So it was time well spent for me.

Around 2pm I went to lunch at Tate Modern Cafe and had a good one: loved my smoked salmon, cream cheese and dill sandwich and delicious raspberry pastel de nata for dessert.

Then I crossed Southwark Bridge again walking back to the Mansion House and this time my photos came out great: the sun was shining and the wind has finally subsided.

Took a tube to South Kensington and headed back to the Victoria & Albert Museum. I just could not bear the thought that I did not have enough time to explore fabulous permanent collections in my favorite museum, not just the exhibits. As always, I utterly enjoyed my 2 hours at V&A: browsed in the rooms with gorgeous furniture and porcelain collections (was there literally alone), looked at the beautiful costumes again, managed to find some time to see Victoria’s crown and absolutely stunning jewelry collection... And the sculpture gallery is amazing as always, objects from Japan, India, China deserve a whole day, IMO... I fail to find the right words to express how I love my every visit to V&A... the more I go there, the more exciting things I discover.

At 6pm, the doors of V&A were closing and I walked back to the hotel, but not before I explored the shops in South Kensington and enjoyed fabulous pastel de nata pastries at the little cafe of the same name. They were so good that I bought three of them for breakfasts. I adore pastel de nata, tried them in Belem and Cascais, fell in love, and happily sacrificed my dinner to eat two of them - here goes my diet...😊.

I went to bed early - really needed some good rest before my upcoming trip the Kew Gardens on Sunday.

live42day May 26th, 2019 08:30 PM

I am enjoying your report and looking forward to more.

vinonobile987 May 27th, 2019 01:21 PM

Day 7
So glad you are enjoying my trip report, live42day! Thank you!

London Trip Report - April 28th 2019 - DAY 7

It was a London Marathon day, so I went ahead with my plan to get out of town and visit Kew Royal Botanical Gardens and Richmond as well as Ham House, if time permits.

It was easy to get to the Gardens: direct District line from Earls Court to Kew Gardens stop and a very short walk to the entrance.

My RHP membership card allowed me to see Kew Palace and the Great Pagoda for free but I still needed to buy a ticket for the Gardens. Needless to say that for everything I enjoyed in the magnificent Gardens it was a very small price to pay.

It was my lucky day: Chiculy Glass Sculptures were on display in the Gardens and in the Shirley Sherwood’s Gallery. The first time I had seen his sculptures was two years ago in Las Vegas and in his gallery and totally fell in love. I immediately realized how unrealistic my plans to visit Richmond and Ham House were because I wanted to see every Chiculy’s sculpture on display, which required quite a bit of walking. No regrets at all! The day was a bit cloudy, but very mild and with long periods of sunshine - great chance to relax and enjoy the beauty of the Kew Gardens in bloom and take good pictures.

My first stop was at the small Shirley Sherwood’s Gallery of Botanical Arts, temporary home to Chiculy’s glass sculptures, all of them unique and so different one from another; the variety of colors, intricate shapes and forms were beyond any reasonable imagination. Phenomenal!

From the Gallery I walked to the Temperate House where the first thing to catch my eye was the most stunning Chiculy’s blue glass sculpture hanging from the ceiling. And there were many more of his glass creations scattered in all corners of the Temperate House and surrounded by lush greenery of plants and bright flowerbeds. Great views and photo ops from above when you take a spiral staircase to the walking gallery.

After Temperate House I went to the Great Pagoda, but decided against climbing up the stairs to the top because I wanted to leave ample time for the Kew Palace and did not want to rush. Took some pictures and walked to the nearby Japanese Gardens, with Chiculy’s glass balls scattered on the ground harmoniously blending with lovely terraces and flowerbeds.

When I was walking to the Queen Charlotte’s Cottage another treat was waiting for me along the way: vast fields of bluebells - their bright blue color was a refreshing image of spring finally arrived after long and gloomy winter. The Cottage itself was nothing special.

Then I continued walking into the direction of Kew Palace and stopped to enjoy lush tropical plants in the Princess of Wales Conservatory.

At last, I reached Kew Palace and the Royal Kitchens, but in all honesty, the Palace Garden with its lovely fountain and the Kitchen Herb Garden impressed me more than the Palace itself.

I stopped for lunch at the pretty cafe, The Orangery, which only looked pretty; the food was awful (I had a chicken sandwich and terrible coffee). Nasty pigeons flying all over the place picking up crumbs freely walking right on the tables made my meal even more disgusting, so I was done with my lunch pretty fast and went for a nice stroll along the Great Broad Walk. The tulips on both side of the Walk were in full bloom: red, pink, cream, yellow, purple - so colorful!

Then I walked to the whimsical Hive, enjoyed lovely Rock Gardens, more tropical plants in the Palm House, charming gazebo surrounded by rose bushes in the Woodland Garden... And I loved the yellow, red and orange Chiculy’s glass masterpieces near the entrance to the Palm House and on the lawn at the back of it.

The most spectacular Chiculy’s glass sculptures were in the Waterlily House. Huge glass white lilies gracefully blended in with little blooming lilies in the round pond - it was a picture from a fairy tale...

I finally looked at my watch and it was almost 6 pm, the closing time, so I quickly headed to the Victoria Plaza Shop - some good souvenirs there; the soaps, tea towels and scarves looked very nice, but I really did not need anything.

Easy ride back to the hotel, quick dinner at the nearby cafe (just a salad and a cup of tea with scones), and one more wonderful day of my trip was over. Canterbury tomorrow...

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