Paris, London, 49ers and Fodors GTG

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Jan 10th, 2014, 11:23 AM
  #21
 
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As ever, well done; enjoying traipsing along with you! My first trip to Sainte Chapelle last June left me awed, too.
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Jan 10th, 2014, 12:04 PM
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I agree about Sainte Chapelle. Go even if it isn't sunny.
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Jan 10th, 2014, 12:14 PM
  #23
 
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DH and I gave each other a look "is that all there is?" when we entered that first floor! Fortunately, there was a sign at the staircase when we were there. I can't remember if it was in French. It was described as a jewel in DK books so I knew there had to be more.

Continuing to sigh for Paris!
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Jan 10th, 2014, 12:52 PM
  #24
 
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The concentration camp memorials were very moving at Pere Lachaise and those for the French resistance. I had just read the book Waiting for Gertrude so was looking for certain graves. We stayed there for several hours. Why do they stick gum on that tree next to Jim Morrison's grave?
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Jan 10th, 2014, 02:11 PM
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Sat. Oct 26, Eurostar to London, Harrods, One Man, Two Guvnors

After another decent continental breakfast I took a cab to Gare du Nord to catch my 10:30 Eurostar to London. Had a much nicer seat this way which s a good thing since this time I was wide awake. At St Pancras I caught a cab to the St Giles hotel just off Tottenham Court Rd. My game package included a hotel stay. There was a choice of 1, 2 or 3 nights at a 3, 4 or 5 star hotel and three grades of game ticket - end zone general, slightly better general, or club level. It was sort of a Chinese restaurant menu - one from column A, one from column B, etc. The 5 star was the Goring and I was really tempted. But when I thought about it - my reason for taking the package was to get a ticket to the sold out game . . . so I opted for 2 nights at the lowest grade hotel and the very best game seat available. I think this was the best compromise - 2 nights so I wouldn't have to check in and out so fast, 3 star is certainly adequate -- I've stayed in lots worse, and a good seat. (I'd move to another hotel after to nights at the St Giles.)

Because the hotel was part of the NFL package to a sold out Wembley - you can understand it was really crowded. I much have lucked out because the specific time I arrived the check in queues were short but every other time I walked through the lobby it was a zoo. It was too early to get into my room but they let me check in and I left my bag. Then I went to the NFL table and picked up my game package. It included a one day 6 zone travel card for Sunday, various bits and bobs . . . and my ticket. Now I knew I'd be on the club level but I scored a forty yard line seat in the second row of the club level. For non (American) football fans . . . 40 yard line is super fantabulous! The fellow who gave out my packet made a big deal of this and the two guys behind me in line were duly impressed - and offered to buy me a drink I'm no dummy - drugs in the drink and ticket lifted off my poor limp body LOL! (But we did meet up in the hotel bar the next night after the game)

I dropped my bag and headed out to Harrods. I know what some think of the place - but I have a tradition of buying an enamel box there every trip to London - I have quite a collection and each one commemorates something going on either in my life or in the UK. This time I bought 2 - one commemorating the birth of Prince George and a tiny one w/ an initial J on the lid. Then I ate a late lunch n the Champagne Bar. Was sort of a weird, grazing lunch because several of their small plates hit the spot. Had mixed olives, chicken satay, a mimosa (told you it was weird) then a sampler of lobster, pate, 'eggplant caviar', smoked salmon, quail egg, -- sounds bizarre but every part of it was delicious. Cost an absolute fortune but I won't need dinner

Took the tube to Leicester Sq to see what was on offer at TKTS. Only show that appealed was One man Two Guvnors - and I got their very last ticket - corner of the Royal Circle. Walked around to Trafalgar Sq to catch the NFL rally -- the place was packed so I just went up on the steps at the National Gallery and got a couple of photos of Joe Montana and a few other players. Walked over to the Waldorf Hilton in Aldwych just to check it out (the hotel I'm moving to after 2 nights at the St Giles) Had a Pimm's in the lobby bar - wrong time of years but it just sounded good.

Returned to the hotel, got my key and unpacked. My room was quite nice really - small but extremely modern/clean bathroom and on a high floor so street noise wasn't bad at all. Then went downstairs to an NFL sponsored party - sort of a buffet/heavy munchies - I mingled but didn't try any of the food.

Then headed to the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Anyone who has a chance to see One man Two Guvnors . . . GO! It is absolutely hysterical. Just be sure to not sit in the front row. You have been warned!!!

Back to the hotel - still partying going on so I popped in for a half pint and some salad, went upstairs and fell into bed . . .

next: V&A, Wembley, Champagne on the club level, Great game (actually not that 'great' a game but GREAT that the niners dominated), and a mob scene getting 'home'
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Jan 10th, 2014, 06:41 PM
  #26
 
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It is such fun reading this trip report- I love the detail.

It's always interesting to see what the "experts" get up to in London Looking forward to the rest.
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Jan 10th, 2014, 08:59 PM
  #27
 
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It is such fun reading this trip report- I love the detail.

It's always interesting to see what the "experts" get up to in London Looking forward to the rest.
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Jan 10th, 2014, 09:01 PM
  #28
 
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How embarrassing- silly iPhone. no way to delete a post?
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Jan 11th, 2014, 01:29 AM
  #29
 
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What fun to do the NFL package! My brother is an official and we keep hoping he'll get a Wembley game. Over the years he's had games in Australia, Barcelona and Germany but none since we've been in Europe.

So far, sounds like they are really doing a great job of promotion and looking after visiting fans. Looking forward to reading about Wembley and the game.

I was just thinking the other day I'd like to get to Harrods again, it's been awhile. I always thought the service was outstanding even for my modest purchases.
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Jan 11th, 2014, 08:28 AM
  #30
 
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Fortunately, there was a sign at the staircase when we were there. I can't remember if it was in French>>

I think it must be - I don't remember but we found upstairs with no problems at all - or perhaps it was our ancient Michelin guide that told us, rather than our "superior" language skills!

Apropos of Harrods, they have just announced that they are closing their "pet" department. so customers wishing to purchase a pet lion or baby elephant will just have to go elsewhere.
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Jan 11th, 2014, 10:46 AM
  #31
 
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More, more, more please!
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Jan 11th, 2014, 11:02 AM
  #32
 
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Tagging along for the ride...

I'm still sorry I didn't get to meet you again!
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Jan 11th, 2014, 11:31 AM
  #33
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Sunday Oct 27: V&A, Wembley, Champagne on the club level, Great game (actually not that 'great' a game but GREAT that the niners dominated), and a mob scene getting 'home'

This morning there is fine weather but all the news is about an historic storm on the way expected to hit London in the overnight hours. Hoping it holds off till after the game (and it did - mostly) Huge buffet breakfast in the equally huge hotel breakfast rooms which was very crowded and queues at every serving station. 90% of the diners are in Forty Niner colors (even though this is supposed to be a Jacksonville home game).

The stadium will open to the 'plebs' at 3:30 but since I'm special (club level) I can enter at 2:30. But it is only 10 AM so I decide to head over to the V&A for a bit. Spent most time in the English galleries and - headed toward Wembley about 2:00

Everywhere I went on the tube all over the city there were lots of folks in NFL gear. Generally - about 75% niners, maybe 10 or 15% Jags, and the rest a smattering of most other teams. Saw lots of Patriot, Packers and Bears fans - but the vast majority were in Forty Niner strip. I wore an old/classic Ronnie Lott (Hit Man!!! ) T shirt and a big/puffy/quilted white satin SF Stadium Club jacket -- nah - you couldn't see me coming a mile away

Heads up: If you care nothing about Amurikin football -- you can skip the next bits

When I transferred to the Bakerloo line - what had been just a lot of NFL-clad fans became a rolling party of entire tube cars totally full of folks heading to the game. I watched one train roll through the station and it was a solid blur of red w/ all the Niner supporters. I arrived at Wembley Park just before 2:30 and spent just a few minutes checking out all the tents/kiosks. I had decided early on to splurge on my game ticket and not on 'stuff' so I had a fair amount of sales resistance. Bought an inexpensive lanyard just to carry my ticket but that was it. It is a fair walk from the tube station and the entire area was a NFL sponsored festival/sales area plus food kiosks. (there is a nearer train station but the tube was more convenient for me)

I entered the stadium a little after 2:30 - spent maybe 15 minutes total walking/window shopping on the way from the station. On the club level there are the typical food beverage stalls and several restaurants/bars. I decided on a posh-ish sit down place and had champagne and soft shell crabs - no Hotdogs and lager for moi

Then i went to find my seat - which we couldn't enter until 3:30 when the whole building opened - but w/ lunch and walking around gawking I only had to wait a couple of minutes. WOW! What a terrific stadium. I had been inside Wembley once years and years ago - but this is a totally different animal. The roof is open over the playing field but all the seats are under cover and I was plenty warm in my layered t-shirts - didn't need to wear the jacket during the game.

All the pre-game/half time festivities were much bigger than a typical NFL game but not as over the top as a Super Bowl. W/ all the singers, fireworks, drum lines, massive UK/US flags - it was a pretty impressive display.

Everyone around me were super nice and lots of buying of drinks/chatting. Almost everyone around me were also 49er fans -- mostly French and Germans but quite a few blokes and a smattering of Californians. For those not familiar w/ the NFL -- the San Francisco Forty Niners are one of the premier teams -- not the very best record but in the top echelon with an idolized young quarterback while the Jacksonville Jaguars are sort of bottom feeders They have been a decent team in the past but they hadn't yet won a game this season (they did eventually win 4 games but lost 12) - so the game result was sort of a foregone conclusion. We (9ers) scored immediately and by the end of the 1st quarter were up 14 points and by half time the score was 28-3. Got so even the 49er fans were rooting for the Jags just hoping they'd get something going. The game ended 42-10 and a lot of niner fans left happy.

OK - football talk over

So now the game is over an 83,559 fans are all leaving at the same time> Arrivals were scattered over several hours so there was no real crush but leaving -- and absolute sea of humanity!!! I hung around a while thinking the mob might thin out a bit but it simply grew and grew. I started towards the tube station and it was not fun. As crowd control the place cordoned off sort of corrals holding maybe 1500-2000 people and didn't let anyone through til the next 'corral' ahead emptied. And all these thousand of people are trying to get on the same tube line. I am pretty short and being in the middle of these masses unable to move forward or back until released to the next 'corral' was making me freak a bit - I'm not a claustrophobic sort of girl -- but I was definitely getting there.

After two corrals and still probably 45 minutes from getting to the tube . . I turned around and fought my back to the police line - they weren't letting anyone back out but thinking quick (and acting the dumb American that can sometime help ) I pleaded w/ the bobby that I had made a huge mistake and was supposed to go to the train station, not the tube station. He reluctantly let me through - and I pulled the same thing at the next corral . . . worked!! I was free and could actually see where I was and could breathe again! Then I had to hike around the stadium and over to the train station where there was a semi long queue but teeeeeeensy compared to the mess I'd escaped from. By then the front edge of the storm was arriving and it started to rain but I had my umbrella so only my legs/feet really got wet. Stood in line less than 15 minutes and got on a train (going I know not where at that point - guessed I'd figure that out once I was someplace I recognized) that was about 3/4 full - got a seat even. And before long we arrived at Marylebone and all was well - piece of cake getting to the hotel by tube.

I arrived back at the hotel, went up to change into dry clothes and returned to the downstairs bar. About 90 minutes later the guys that had tried to buy me a drink at check in stumbled in - - they had been stuck in the corrals. They finally did buy me that drink and we talked until about 1AM - w/ lots of other celebrating niner fans filling the place.

Next: The big storm, Checking out of 3 star and in to posh, Fodors GTG)
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Jan 11th, 2014, 11:34 AM
  #34
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Hi julia - was writing when you posted. I'm sure we'll have other opportunities.

Thanks everyone.

Yes annhig - I'd read about the pet department. I can see not selling the animals any longer - but the pet shop sold all sorts of other bits and bobs, you'd think they'd still have room for a pet supply section.
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Jan 11th, 2014, 12:04 PM
  #35
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>>As crowd control the place cordoned off <<

That should read As crowd control the police cordoned off . . .
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Jan 11th, 2014, 12:13 PM
  #36
 
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This has elements of the surreal in it!
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Jan 11th, 2014, 12:37 PM
  #37
 
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I decided on a posh-ish sit down place and had champagne and soft shell crabs >>

in England, at Wembley?

surreal indeed.
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Jan 11th, 2014, 12:42 PM
  #38
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Hey - I wasn't hob nobbing w/ the little people
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Jan 11th, 2014, 04:19 PM
  #39
 
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Thought the Pet Dept. closed years ago. Too bad. When we lved in London, I used to take my small daughter there in bad weather when a trip to the zoo would have been hard but bought my dog in the country - way cheaper.
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Jan 12th, 2014, 02:39 AM
  #40
 
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Bedar - I don't think that anyone sensible ever bought any animals from there - it was more a tourist attraction.

jj - it was the thought of soft-shell crabs [never seen them in the UK] and champagne at WEMBLEY that got me. Darn sight better than the muck we got at the cricket in Brisbane - it was so bad that the 2nd day we went [were we mad?] we took our own sandwiches.
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