'Non-report' London Trip Report

Old Dec 30th, 2019, 05:19 PM
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'Non-report' London Trip Report

I traveled from California to London to celebrate my birthday - flying out on Thanksgiving Day and landing back home in the wee small hours Dec 6 - 7. Was planning to do a full-on TR but I woke up Sunday Dec 8 with a flaming sinus infection and ended up in bed pretty much all the way through Dec 22. I am now back among the living (FINALLY) but not sure how much detail will get into the TR since I didn't keep a journal or take any notes. I do want to at least report on some of the amazing meals, great weather, the two GTGs and some of the special events. May take me a few days to get it all together but if I don't start now it'll never happen . . .

Will do several short installments and hopefully not lose my posts to that nasty Flash error/ad that keeps popping up (see the Tech Support forum if you are lucky and haven't experienced it)
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Old Dec 30th, 2019, 06:05 PM
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Flights: Last summer I had learned about Ian McKellen finishing up his one-man stage swan song with a 3+ month run at the Harold Pinter Theatre and decided that would be as good a reason as most to go to London. So back in July I booked Sir Ian and Christmas at Kew but didn’t make any other plans. Got serious setting duration of the trip, booking flights, and researching other events and restaurants in August early Sept.

I figured I’d do Business over and coach home - and dates somewhere around Nov 30 and home about a week later. Thanksgiving wasn’t even on my radar when I started looking at flights. I just had to be in London Dec 3 and 4 for McKellen and Kew.

Jeeze Louise!! Fares SMF>LAX>LHR>LAX>SMF. were running more than $5000. And using DFW or other connections were even higher. (It didn’t dawn on me it was busy/expensive Thanksgiving weekend until after I booked). Crap (!) - thought I was boxed into a corner and would have to either cancel or suffer in coach both ways. Then I started playing around with dates and discovered that flying out on Thursday cut the fare almost in half (again - not even thinking about t’giving) So instead of $5200 it came down to something like $2750 Business over/Coach home . . . But wait — the next column over - meaning business home, only increased the fare to a bit over $3000. Just about pulled the trigger . . . But wait — the next column over - meaning bleedin’ FIRST CLASS home was only another $200-ish. Hot Damn!! Its my birthday and I’m worth spoiling . So by moving the trip forward 2 days I get Business over (unfortunately on BA metal) and bleedin’ FIRST CLASS home on AA (including the pajamas, Flagship Lounges, etc etc) and ‘save’ more than $2000.

Next: Arrival Day Fri, and Sat - Leighton House, 18 Stafford Terrace, Japan House, Ivy Kensington Brasserie and A Christmas Carol at the Old Vic.
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Old Dec 30th, 2019, 06:21 PM
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Looking forward to the rest of your report. Regarding air fares and dates, I often run into this. I always fly BA to/ from London/ Denver and sometimes just a day or two difference can mean a big savings. Something people should check out before setting their dates.
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Old Dec 30th, 2019, 06:22 PM
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Nice! And Happy Birthday!
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Old Dec 30th, 2019, 06:50 PM
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Lucky you Ian McClellan. I just saw him in The Good Liar and on the Graham Norton show -saw once in Melbourne with Patrick Stewart in a play. Apparently he mentions his Who do you think you are program which was one of the best I've seen. Happy Birthday Janis good spoiling
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Old Dec 30th, 2019, 06:55 PM
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Thanks everyone -- hope to get more done tonight. But just noticed >>So by moving the trip forward 2 days . . . << Should have been >>So by moving the trip back 2 days . . . << (from Saturday to Thursday)
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Old Dec 30th, 2019, 07:57 PM
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We saw Ian McKellan in London in October, a most amazing evening. That and Hamilton. 2 amazing evenings.
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Old Dec 30th, 2019, 08:32 PM
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A promising start. Congratulations on getting such a good deal for your birthday!

We fly BA all the time for long haul... is AA that much better?
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Old Dec 31st, 2019, 12:06 AM
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Do you mind sharing which websites you use for booking your airfare? Thank you!!!
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Old Dec 31st, 2019, 06:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Trophywife007 View Post
A promising start. Congratulations on getting such a good deal for your birthday!

We fly BA all the time for long haul... is AA that much better?
BA business -- at least on the 747's on that route - have a nasty 2 - 3 - 2 layout with all the backward facing seats and lots of passengers having having to climb around people to get to the aisle plus no privacy really (a little with the partitions up) . . . PLUS the indignity of having to pay for seat selection even in Business. AA uses a 1 - 2 - 1 layout so everyone is on an aisle, and there is just about total privacy. AND no fee to select seats - which can be done at the time of booking.

Originally Posted by azMommy View Post
Do you mind sharing which websites you use for booking your airfare? Thank you!!!
I typically just use AA's website (or whichever airline I plan on using.

(going to post this now -- lost it twice already - fingers crossed)
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Old Dec 31st, 2019, 07:45 AM
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Looking forward to the read Janis! I totally lost all of my first report on the Jubilee Galleries and took me forever to get the pics in the right direction. They certainly donít make trip reports easy!! Happy New Year to ya!!
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Old Dec 31st, 2019, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by kmowatt View Post
Looking forward to the read Janis! I totally lost all of my first report on the Jubilee Galleries and took me forever to get the pics in the right direction. They certainly donít make trip reports easy!! Happy New Year to ya!!
Happy New Year to you too

(I never used to bother writing off line and then copy pasting here --- but now you almost HAVE to because otherwise you can lose everything)
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Old Dec 31st, 2019, 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by janisj View Post
BA business -- at least on the 747's on that route - have a nasty 2 - 3 - 2 layout with all the backward facing seats and lots of passengers having having to climb around people to get to the aisle plus no privacy really (a little with the partitions up) . . . PLUS the indignity of having to pay for seat selection even in Business. AA uses a 1 - 2 - 1 layout so everyone is on an aisle, and there is just about total privacy. AND no fee to select seats - which can be done at the time of booking.
Thanks for clarifying. BA long haul business is slowly being redone to the 1-2-1 configuration but until then we usually book early enough to get seats that don't require the step over for the window occupant, fingers crossed.
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Old Dec 31st, 2019, 09:31 AM
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I actually paid a little extra just to be upstairs in the smaller cabin but even the middle seat was an extra cost. Then when I checked in at SMF to get both boarding passes, the agent said "you have a middle seat -- there are aisle seats would you rather?" - "YES, please!" so I got a seat that would have cost me about $200 more . . . for free.
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Old Dec 31st, 2019, 09:58 AM
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Stupid site - lost a looooong post. grrrr.
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Old Dec 31st, 2019, 10:18 AM
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Just realized I’m running out of time today so probably won’t get back to the TR til tommorrow. But thought I’d post a list of the main meals and events - to whet the appetite . . .

Main events:
Two GTGs - one with kmowatt and one with Patrick London and flanneruk
• A Christmas Carol @ the Old Vic - nice production
• Mary Poppins - REALLY enjoyed - better than I expected
• An Evening with Nadiya Nussain (of Great British Baking Show fame - she just received an MBE in the New Years Honors) What a remarkable woman.
• Christmas at Kew — really fun, may try to go again next year and spend more time
• An Evening with Ian McKellen - ‘nuff said
• Cars at the V&A
• William Blake at Tate Britain
• Olafur Eliasson at Tate Modern

Other sites:
•Leighton House
• 18 Stafford Terrace
• Apsley House
• A couple of Christmas markets, general Christmas lights/decorations around town

Main Meals:
• Ivy Kensington Brasserie. Quite good. Very crowded / noisy.
• Skylon - Very nice - they first put me at a nasty table near reception. After a (very) minor harrumph, they moved me to one of the best tables in the house and comped my dessert.
• The Ivy - good as usual. Not over the top great.
• 45 Jermyn Street. One of my best meals of the trip. Great service.
• Petrus. OK - IF a £189 lunch (YIKES - and that was with only one cocktail and one glass of wine) . . . can be called a ‘bargain’ - it was. Probably the 3rd or 4th best meal I’ve ever had. Great food and really superb service.
• A few breakfasts and lunches at various museum Members Rooms
• A few cocktails/Champagne/etc . . . @ Harvey Nicks, the Covent Garden Hotel in 7 Dials, OXO Tower, a couple of others

Tried to fit in Hide but they wouldn't take a booking for one.
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Old Dec 31st, 2019, 11:14 AM
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nice start to your TR, JJ, and good to hear that you have finally recovered from your sinus infection. Feeling very jealous that you saw Ian McKellan's swan song.

Keep it coming.
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Old Dec 31st, 2019, 01:31 PM
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Signed up for the ride. A belated happy birthday!
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Old Dec 31st, 2019, 01:45 PM
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Looking forward to hearing more!
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Old Dec 31st, 2019, 02:12 PM
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Signing on. Very interested in Kew. Love Leighton House. Sorry you got sick.

Kudos on the flights, and Happy New Year.
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