I'm quite excited about our 3 days in London coming up this week. I've been to London three times since moving to France: the first time was for a weekend during my first month in Paris in December 2006, where I had such a lovely time doing walking tours organized by a former client and her husband. It was the perfect introduction to the city. I recall visiting Harrod's to buy my 94-year-old grandmother a scarf; she had been there in 1956 and I thought she'd enjoy something from the legendary department store. She passed away the following December. I kept the scarf to remember her by.
The next time was just a few months later in 2007 when my best friend Wendy came to visit for 10 days, and she wanted a few days in London and organized everything, including tickets to the longest running West End play. It was February and we even got a bit of snow on the day we visited Notting Hill, but we had a great time. We visited Shakespeare's Globe Theatre and oddly enough spent a lot of time looking for somewhere to have an afternoon Tea but never found any place. How was that possible? Guess we weren't looking in the right spot.
I think it was 2011 the last time I was there for a visit, again with Wendy. But this time, she brought my god-daughter Brittany along as a high school graduation gift. We stayed in a very nice B&B in Kensington, visited the Tower of London which I really enjoyed, and finally went up on the London Eye!
This time will be the first time Georges and I are in London together. He's been before, of course, last time with his two oldest kids when they were still teenagers. Although there are things we've each done separately before, there is still so much we haven't done that we won't have any trouble exploring and discovering new things. We're staying in Southwark near London Bridge and the Borough Market (and The Shard!), an area I explored a little on my first visit, pre-Shard.
Our agenda is fairly loose. The View from the Shard is definitely one thing we're going to do, most likely tomorrow if the weather reports are accurate (might be raining on Tuesday). We'll explore the South Bank, visit the Tate Modern (I've only ever had lunch in their restaurant but never seen the collection) and visit/revisit Shakespeare's Globe. I want to tour inside St Paul's Cathedral but we've both been to Westminster Abbey so we'll skip that. We do plan a trip to Harrod's for the Food Hall (Georges knows where to find the Jelly Bellies and I might spring for a Krispy Kreme donut or two).
On Tuesday evening, we have tickets I bought last November - to Monty Python LIVE (mostly)! This is one of those things I just HAD to do, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity - with me being a train ride away from London and the MPs now being all in their 70s and one of them (Graham Chapman) already having crossed over to seek the Holy Grail in the Great Beyond. I've enjoyed their comedy since I was in high school; I remember Saturday night parties at the homes of various friends or at my own home, and we'd always put on one of their albums and laugh until we were snorting soda out our noses. I think John Cleese in particular is absolutely bloody brilliant; I was hoping to spot him when I was in Bath last year (he lives there now) and he's so distinctive that he'd be easy to spot, but no luck. And now, to be at what will be their first concert series since the 1980s and most likely their last series period? Worth every pence I spent.
The Python tickets were the reason for this trip in the first place, but as our 6th anniversary was just before, and Georges has a milestone birthday coming up in early August (shhh, I'm not telling how old) where he doesn't especially want any big celebration (I understand how he feels which is why we went to Venice for my 50th - a little travel is so much more fun anyway), we decided to just take a mini-break and make the most of it.
Other things we have "planned" - I just bought tickets on the Thames Clipper to get us to the concert and back by river instead of dealing with the packed exit crowds from the O2 stadium after the concert, so that will make a lovely day AND night cruise along the Thames on Tuesday, and even if raining, the boat is enclosed so no worries. And on our last afternoon, we're taking this West End Pub Tour which include 6 beers and a nice walking tour, after which we will pour ourselves into a taxi (if we're too snockered to find our way by Tube) and head to St Pancras to catch the last Eurostar home to Paris.
So, that's where we'll be for the next 3 days. Early departure tomorrow (following late night watching World Cup Finals - of course) means a 10am arrival in London tomorrow. Odd that I will be spending my first Bastille Day as a French citizen in ENGLAND but there it is. There's always next year.
Look for quick photos posts from all over London-town!