Monday, June 8, 2009

London day 2 - fri 5-29-09

i woke up determined to see a little bit of history in London, so from the variety of choices, i picked up the London Walk tour for Westminster Abbey...

part of the tour included seeing the Changing of the Guards... the surprising (nicely) thing was we got to see them as they marched on the ROAD towards Buckingham Palace (most people stand in line at the Palace gates and get to see the person's head ahead of them...) We saw both the foot guards and the horse guards. Instead of swords they had guns, so even though the guard changes was traditional fanfare, they are real soliders and up to date with the latest gears.

We took a scenic route to Westminster Abbey and heard many a great story on the way...

since i've been bumbling through most of my trip unplanned and unresearched, i had never realized what is here at Westminster Abbey... but so many people are buried here amongst the royalty. Newton, Darwin, Faraday and Kelvin, to name a few. Chaucer, Bryon, Tennyson, Robert Browning, to name another few in the Poet's Corner. Then Queen Elizabeth and her sister Bloody Mary. if you ask me, it's a real melange of various cultures, religions, cross sections of the famous and infamous.

by the way, the Guiness family is still rich enough to have donated many Waterford Crystal chandelier to the Abbey.

on the alter of the Westmisnter Abbey, there's the coronation floor where the coronation chair is placed in the middle for the coronation of kings and queens. the floor there is mosaic and beautiful, and has a picture of the universe - the coronation chair is supposed to be placed at the center of the universe - which in the mosiac, is earth. because we all know the center of the universe is the earth right?! Hello Galileo.

"But there is that within me which shall tire, torture and time and breadth when i expire" ~Lord Bryon.

"Is all in life, then, but a dream?" - Lewis Carroll.

What's most interesting and touching is the tomb for the Unname Soldier, that represents some 60,000 men who died during WWI walking into lines of machine gun fire. This is the only tomb in the Abbey where no one can walk on - the coronation, marriages and royalties, all happen stepping around this tomb.

I'm tired from all the walking, walking everywhere!
Ok, i see the Big Ben in the background. Here's another self-portrait trying to get both my face and Big Ben in the picture.

En route towards Traflagar Square, i found this cool memorial.

I pass by some more guards with tall tall boots (un-bendable) and on horseback.

I passed by Obika which is this Mozarella bar that TW had wanted to take me to for brunch in Milan, but we never had a chance... it's a sign! (and a sign for lunch menu!) so i decided to have lunch there...

I got the mozarella and porchuitto salad

dessert of the day was heavenly - pineapple carpacio!!! thinly sliced pineapple with a super light syrup that had vanilla beans in it, strawberries...

one of the things on my personal list is to visit 2nd hand bookstores, so i spent 2 hours on this street with the bookstores (each had its own specialization)...
halfway through, in a Children's 2nd hand bookstore, i found a Dalek that was used inn filming of 1972 Doctor Who!!! I asked the nice owner if i can take a picture, he looked up surprised that i know what the heck this was, and said of course.

so after browsing the book stores, i went back to my hotel to take a break before my friday evening date with myself at the show Wicked!!!

in the underground, i saw this cute poster

I also saw this amusing poster - who knew Jerry Springer was in Chicago?


i decided to get semi-dressed up for Wicked. with all the tourists in town, who knows what's the proper attire anymore...

i LOVED the show... it's so much about friendship, then love, and mostly about pushing boundaries beyond the labels society give you or how people perceive you. I will stop with the editorial commentary, but needless to say, i had a fun time, LOVED the story, loved the singing and performance...

i came out of the theatre on a high high note - i think Wicked just added a spot on my favorite musicals list!!
i had the stupid smile on my face, getting ready to walk back to my hotel.
on the side street, i saw 5 other girls giggling near... so i took a look. the door said "Stage Door" so i asked one of them, are you waiting for the Wicked Cast? and they were. it was unbelievable that there's not mobs of fans clammering out here waiting for the cast!!! So i decided to give it a few minutes, what else have i got to do anyway?!

within 10 minutes the cast came out! talk about superman quick in changing!!!
Oliver Tompset who plays Fiyero came out, and i didn't realize he's so gorgerous in real life until up close and personal (you know, stage shows always put so much makeup on you can't tell what is Maybelline and what is nature's blessings!)
my jaws dropped... he's hunky GORGEROUS! our kids would look equally gorgerous.

Here's Dianne Pilkington who played Glinda the good - she was too quick, i only got a picture of her instead of with her...

and me with Natalie Anderson, who played the role of Nessarose - Alphaba's sister


i'm high on a kite at that moment... loved the show, such an unexpected surprise to have almost run right into the cast afterwards and they were nice enough to take a picture with me! plus there's no big crowds and lineups to do so!

when i got back to my hotel, i decided to have a drink at the hotel bar in the lobby. On the Alleyway walking tour, some woman ordered a "Pimms and Lemonade" so i tried to order that... but the bar was out of Pimms (which is surprising for a british pub). i asked the bartender what's a typical british drink, and he in turned asked the few people who were sitting in the bar area... and an older British couple sitting at the table replied "Gin and Tonic" merrily, so that's what i ordered. they emphasized: "With lemon and ice, dearie!" - yes sir.

the couple turned out to be very entertaining (and halfway tipsy) - as we exchange stories on the London sights we've seen and visited, the history, and eventually, i seek out their advice about the etiquettes of tipping in London ("we're British, we almost never tip. unless i am exceptionally happy with your service, then i might give you something" was the advice i got. and they both thought i was rudely ripped off by the Black Cab driver giving himself £5 tip.) On a side note, the gin and tonic was VERY good - surprisingly light. I've only had a gin and tonic once before but the alcohol was so strong that i felt like i was inhaling just rubbing alcohol and never finished the drink. And the man recommended that i ask for the tonic water on the side so they'd give you a bottle. add half to your drink, and then on your second round, you only need to order a shot of gin to add to the remainder of your tonic water, to save a few bucks.

the night turned out to be adventurous and memorable, unpredictable and lovely.

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