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Published: March 28th 2014
What a relief it was to finally be back where we felt more comfortable, ie in a country that spoke English as its primary language, and also a country where the customs are mostly quite similar to home. While we didn't really have any issues with language barriers across all the other countries we visited, it was still nice not to have to worry about it at all, and also know exactly what people are saying! You get used to being an outsider and I think we started being a bit less discreet in places because we knew people may not understand us.
Our trip to London was the longest we stayed in any one city (besides our skiing) but it was the most packed of all our cities, simply because we had too much to do. We had already booked a few things, and then had to try and fit all the other sightseeing in as well.
On our first day we basically just got acquainted with the place, went to St James Park, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, the Strand etc and just wandered around for most of the day. These were places we'd been to when we
spent the day in London back in 2011 so it was nice to just see something familiar. I had also seen these sights ten years ago on my last trip to London. That night we spent the evening with a friend of mine Kate, and her boyfriend Mat who had arrived the day before as well, from Sydney. They were jet-lagged which must have been hard but we still spent the night out having dinner and drinks around Leicester Square which was insanely busy, but it was a Saturday night.
On Sunday we went to the British Museum. I had remembered it from my last trip on 2005 as an insane museum to go to, and hoped it would live up to the memory. Of course it did, it's the British Museum! The Museum itself is a beautiful building combining older architecture with a modern twist inside so it's a sight to see all on its own. But the draw cards of the Rosetta Stone, a statue from Easter Island, the 'Bog Man' and the Elgin Marbles make it the most interesting museum of all the cities we've been to. We spent three hours there and that only just
scratched the surface, but we had a musical to see, so had to be on our way. That Sunday afternoon we saw Matilda the Musical which had been on the recommendation of a few of my friends. Whilst the music was catchy and the story endearing, it is not a musical I would see again (which is fitting given it's coming to Australia) unless I had a younger child to take with me. It is definitely suited to a younger audience and is fantastic for them, but was a bit underwhelming for us for our first show in the West End for 2014.
On Monday we hired a car and drove out to Salisbury Plains to see Stone Henge. I had missed out on doing this last time so felt we should do it this time, though in hindsight I'm not sure it's something I would recommend from London. If you're driving out that way anyway then sure, but maybe not as a specific trip like we did. We had all sorts of problems with getting our hire car, starting with a delay of almost an hour to get out of the depot just due to the number of
people that needed to be served. We also then had an issue with the navigation system as it didn't work without being plugged in, and even when it was, it still turned itself off. I spent the whole drive holding the cord in, trying to make sure I knew our steps well in advance in case it turned off. But we did get there in the end. Stone Henge itself seems a lot smaller in person than all the pictures you see. It's a very well organised place to visit, and has a lot of information in the museum but given you can't get that close to it, it looks rather small in all our photos! After we saw Stone Henge we set off towards Nottingham to go to Wollaton Hall which is where the Dark Knight was filmed. We didn't get there in the end as it was simply too far, and ended up stopped at the McDonalds in Oxford to decide our next step. After a coffee and of course a McFlurry we decided to just stay in Oxford and go see the University. We ended up having tea and scones in the church on the University grounds,
after climbing the tower and seeing Oxford from above. It was an unexpected but very pleasant way to end our day. We drove back to London, having yet more problems with the navigation system, which meant it took us an hour to find the depot to return to car. This was in the middle of London city, in peak hour traffic, in the dark. Not very pleasant at all. Needless to say, we got our money back on the navigation system!
On Tuesday it was what I'd call 'Matts Day'. We made our way out to Wimbledon to go to the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum. We ended up going to the museum which is underneath the courts and then going on a 90 minute tour through the complex. We also had strawberries and cream which I was very happy about! Obviously the tour was more for Matt's benefit as I have never even seen a Wimbledon game, but it was enjoyable all the same. I think he was disappointed that we didn't get to go to the locker room but we got to go pretty much everywhere else so it made up for it. We also got to have
our photo taken where they have their post game interviews so that was also pretty awesome. The second part of 'Matts Day' was seeing The Book of Mormon in the West End. He had pre-warned me that it would be highly offensive but it was an excellent show! I understand why some people might take offense to the content if it was said in general conversation
however in a show which is obviously in jest I didn't find it offensive. The music and 'book' certainly made up for any offense that might be taken, and I am still singing the songs. I have to say, it is probably one of the most well written musicals in terms of story line continuity and the music was phenomenal in terms of its cleverness and harmonies.
Our last day in London was spent frantically trying to get the rest of our sightseeing in. Unfortunately we only really got as far as the Tower of London, not realising it is in fact a huge complex and takes about 4 hours to get through. We didn't really know anything about the Tower of London, so it was good that they had an included tour
guide, one of the 'beefeaters' that live on site. We didn't realise that these beefeaters actually live on site and have to have a ridiculous amount of military service to even be considered. They are also locked in to the complex after 10pm at night, not even able to exit to see a doctor if required (don't worry, they have one on site). The Tower was very interesting and obviously a great site to see in itself. It also had a great view of the Tower Bridge and had some great photo opportunities!
And finally, to finish our London trip, of course we saw Les Miserables. It was the third time I've seen it on the West End and the second time Matt had seen it, after we had our day trip specifically to see it in 2011. This time around, it was the best overall cast that we've seen in the live show. The Jean Valjean, from South Australia of all places, was absolutely phenomenal and the best we've seen in terms of overall performance. It was a sentimental way to end our trip and one that we won't forget.
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