The trip I was most excited for. While it’s true that I had already been to London once this semester, it was a last minute, 24 hour trip. Definitely not enough time to do things properly. This time, the trip was preplanned, longer, and accompanied. I would be travelling with Other Katie and I was so incredibly excited. We both love theatre so we would be focusing on seeing a few shows during our days in London.
I’ll be honest and say that our first day in London was mostly a wash. We took an uncomfortable RyanAir flight at an ungodly hour in the morning because that was the cheapest option. We then had to travel into the city and sort out a hotel mishap that involved us switching accommodations. Needless to say, once we finally got to our room we didn’t feel like doing much but taking a nap.
All was not lost however! We had our first show of the trip that evening and Katie and I were so ready for it. But first, we had to eat dinner. Don’t laugh, but we ate at Chipotle and loved every second of it. As much as we love the Danes, they just don’t get Mexican food and while Chipotle is hardly authentic it really hit the spot.
Satisfied, we headed to the theatre. We had tickets to see Bat Out of Hell: The Musical. It was basically what it sounded like: a jukebox musical based on the works of Meat Loaf. It’s not even worth describing the plot but it was loud and bonkers and we had the absolute best time. It surely wasn’t high art but it was a fun show and I’m so glad we went. While we didn’t get much accomplished on our first day, it certainly wasn’t a waste.
On our second day in London, the touring really began. We spent our morning at the Museum of London. If you remember my first London trip, then you’ll remember that I wished I had visited it instead of the British Museum. I had never been here before but I knew they had a suffragette exhibit that I wanted to see. I actually really loved the whole museum. They had a wide variety of things to see no matter your interests. From Roman times and the plague to the 2012 Olympics, this museum had it all.
The suffragette display was definitely worth the trip for me. It was really neat seeing artifacts from the era. I especially liked a quilt where women involved in the movement had embroidered their names. Upon further inspection, I was delighted to see that future leaders of the American suffrage movement like Lucy Burns and Alice Paul had been included. I knew that they had been in London before returning to the States, but seeing that quilt really made it real for me. I don’t know, I just really liked it.
We did a bit of shopping that afternoon, but we didn’t really try to do too much. We wanted to go back to the hotel in order to have enough time to rest and get ready for that evening’s show. We had tickets to see Company and were so excited.
I don’t think that words can express how much I wanted to see this production and how happy I was that we did it. I had heard from a friend that this revival was special and I think that was an understatement. Company centers around the protagonist, Bobby, around his 35th birthday as he navigates his relationship with his married friends and grapples with being a bachelor at his age. (I’m definitely not doing the show justice but it’s very hard to explain!) This revival was different because instead of following Bobby, a man, it follows Bobbi, a woman. I’m going to be honest and say that I really didn’t care for the original production of Company at all but I absolutely adored this one. I think that the change of the main character really helped bring the show into the 21st century and made it more relatable, at least for me.
All in all, this was one of the best productions I’ve ever seen and we only paid $15 each to breathe the same air as Patti LuPone. Katie and I were both extremely pleased with our evening. So far we had made two solid choices for shows.
On our third day we took a break from the theatre. Without the pressure of making an evening performance, we decided to spend the whole day out and about. This ended up with a decision to check out the museums in Kensington. The Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, and the Victoria & Albert Museum are basically right on top of each other so it’s easy to visit more than one in a day. Plus they’re all free so there’s no worry about going over budget.
Katie and I ended up going to all three of them. This was probably a bad idea. We saw a lot and had fun while doing it but boy was it exhausting. We were so focused on the museums that we didn’t eat lunch until basically dinnertime. A mess. Next time, I would only do one or two of them because by the time we got to the Science Museum at the end of the afternoon I was getting hangry. Not my best moment.
I was glad that we didn’t have a show to see that evening. We had an early night eating potted noodles and watching television in our hotel room. Pretty ideal, if you ask me.
Our final full day in London was perhaps the busiest. As in, it was so packed that we didn’t have enough time to return to the hotel room to freshen up before our final play. Maybe this is a little dramatic. We didn’t actually do a whole lot more than the previous days (and we certainly didn’t power through another 3 museums in an afternoon) but we did have things scheduled. Basically, we were on a timetable and didn’t have too flexible of a schedule.
The morning was spent doing something super nerdy but super cool and off the beaten track. We attended oral arguments at the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. They’re free for the public to attend and courtrooms that are not in use can be visited and explored in the meantime. I absolutely loved this. It was such a unique thing to do and it was really fascinating to see the legal system in action. Apparently, you can also sit in on cases in the criminal courts as well, but that seems a bit exploitative to me. At least in the Supreme Court they’re mostly debating issues of law and not whether somebody is guilty or innocent.
We certainly didn’t stay for the whole arguments. The case we saw was scheduled to last the whole day and Katie does not have a legal background so we didn’t really feel the need to see the whole thing in its entirety. Just a snippet was good enough for us. Besides, we had another appointment to catch.
While Katie and I were in London we kept talking about how much we love tea and how it was a shame that we weren’t doing afternoon tea. After much discussion we decided to see if maybe we could actually make it happen. Some quick googling left us with a reservation for afternoon tea at Kensington Palace that very day. It was totally a last minute decision but the price was right and the clotted cream was calling.
I say tea at Kensington Palace but I really mean “tea in a pavilion tea next to Kensington Palace.” I guess that tea is usually served in the Orangery which is a nice building but it’s undergoing renovations so we were stuck in a glorified tent instead. With that being said, it was a perfectly adequate tea. The food was good and it was really fun eating off of royal china. However, I probably wouldn’t go back as long as the location remains the same.
Stuffed on scones, we wandered around for a bit until it was time for our final performance of the trip. We had tickets to see Macbeth at the Globe Theatre. Because it was December, the outdoor stage wasn’t open. Instead, this performance was held in the Wannamaker Playhouse which is a small, intimate, inside venue. It’s modeled after theatres of the time so the whole performance was lit only by candlelight. I thought it was brilliant. The darkness and flickering lights really captured the mood and leant the perfect atmosphere to the piece. It was the perfect end to our theatre tour of London.
But that wasn’t the entirely the end of our time in London. Since we bought the cheap plane tickets our ride wasn’t until way late at night so we had most of the afternoon to kill. We mostly wandered up and down Oxford Street and walked around Soho. I personally didn’t want to commit to doing much more than that because I had to register for my next semester’s classes and I was nervous about getting the schedule I wanted. Luckily, we found a café with wifi and I was able to complete my mission.
As the sun went down (early!) and the Christmas lights started twinkling, Katie and I headed back to the airport, sad that our trip was over. We had such a great time together. Our travel styles really clicked together and there were no arguments or animosity between us. I absolutely love London, and this trip made me fall in love with it just a little bit more.