LON­DON CALL­ING

Tea and the­atre trav­els.

DRIFT Travel magazine - - Inside This Issue - BY: TODD & RE­BECCA TAL­BOT

Few cities in the world are more ‘bucket list’ wor­thy than Lon­don, Eng­land. It mixes in­cred­i­bly rich his­tory with a mod­ern metropoli­tan vibe. For Re­becca and I, our visit be­gan with a ride cour­tesy of my old col­lege mate Grant (the im­pe­tus for our trip was my 20 year the­atre school re­union), from renowned Heathrow air­port to Lon­don Cen­ter- straight into a sea of cars, iconic black cabs and red dou­ble-deck­ers mak­ing slow progress along streets lined with

multi-mil­lion pound prop­er­ties, new-builds jux­ta­posed with stately brick-stacked build­ings from the 1800s, and from the mo­ment we set foot on the old cob­ble­stoned streets be­hind the Phoenix the­atre, our an­tic­i­pa­tion for a re­mark­able hol­i­day be­came a re­al­ity.

It was Re­becca’s first time to Eng­land and se­cur­ing tick­ets to the the­atre was the first thing on her list but jet lag was num­ber two, and we took care of that with a nap, at 4:00 in the af­ter­noon.

We stayed at the An­theneum, a boutique ho­tel which re­cently un­der­went a full ren­o­va­tion to keep it cur­rent with­out los­ing the art deco savoir faire, en­hanced by the leg­endary door­men greet­ing us out­side in full top hat and tails. Even be­fore reach­ing the lobby, the ho­tel wel­comes guests with a liv­ing wall, echo­ing the tran­quil­ity of Green Park just across the street. On the other side of the park proudly re­sides Buck­ing­ham Palace and at the end of Piccadilly in the op­po­site direc­tion is Piccadilly Cir­cus. We hadn’t even done any­thing yet and our minds were blown.

Jet lag also gave us no de­sire to eat din­ner at din­ner-time, so we skipped it, which meant we were starv­ing when we woke up at 2am. Room ser­vice pro­vided all our fa­vorite com­fort foods, we or­dered three meals off the menu, or­dered a movie on TV, ate, watched the whole thing and went back to sleep. It was ridicu­lous and de­lec­ta­ble.

When we planned our stay in Lon­don, I had no idea that we would end up see­ing a dif­fer­ent show ev­ery night we were there, but with the world’s great­est live the­atre at our doorstep, we couldn’t re­sist. The TKTS booth re­sides in Le­ices­ter Square, so we vis­ited there al­most ev­ery day. Our top three of the nine per­for­mances we at­tended were:

1. The Play that Goes Wrong

I don’t think I’ve laughed so much at the same joke - ever! I thought I’d stop laugh­ing but they got me ev­ery time, ab-form­ing laugh­ter.

2. The Book of Mormon

Also funny but the mu­si­cal ver­sion and dan­ger­ously ir­rev­er­ent. Our tick­ets for this show were ac­quired by lot­tery, we tried on three dif­fer­ent nights to score tick­ets but the boys in the show were do­ing the same thing to get tick­ets for their friends, ap­par­ently, so they had much bet­ter odds. We fi­nally got wise and had some buds come along to put their names in the draw as well and ended up with four cheap seats in the front row. Worth the ef­fort.

3. 42nd Street

Spine tin­gling, old school mu­si­cal that will leave you singing and danc­ing in the streets after the show.

We didn’t just go to the the­atre though, we saw the sights, we shopped the shops, we ate the food and for that we wore proper walk­ing shoes and loaded up an Oys­ter card. Good for the tube or the bus, the Oys­ter card will get you where you want to go, with­out hail­ing a cab and with the added ben­e­fit of say­ing, “Let’s take the tube”. Here is our must-do list of sights and bites...

1. Buck­ing­ham Palace

And this is a word to the lo­cals as well be­cause you live there, and if you haven’t seen it, you ab­so­lutely should: go do the walk­ing tour. Strap on those head­sets, walk up that grand stair­case, through the state rooms and gallery and then go buy your­self a tea cup in the shop at the end. Re­becca can’t stop talk­ing about that su­per­flu­ously ex­pen­sive tea cup. *Re­becca note: it was ad­e­quately priced for a beau­ti­ful turquoise and goldtrimmed, Royal Al­bert, Queen Vic­to­ria’s Ju­bilee bone china tea cup. Tea cup col­lec­tors unite!

2. Fort­num & Ma­son

This was rec­om­mended to us from a good friend at home and we gladly pass it along. The Christ­mas Shop on the top floor (take the stairs, they are an ex­cel­lent piece of time travel) boasts Hol­i­day cheer year-round and is an­other good spot for a sou­venir if you don’t like tea cups *who doesn’t like tea cups?! And if you get hun­gry while you browse, head down to the cafe­te­ria for tea and sand­wiches, both are on point.

3. Covent Gar­den

Great win­dow (and booth) shop­ping. It’s a great vibe, a great lo­ca­tion, and Re­becca would like you to know that Whit­tard’s orig­i­nal tea shop is there. Pots of steep­ing tea can be found at ev­ery turn so you can sam­ple be­fore you buy. Yes please!

4. Vic­to­ria and Al­bert Mu­seum

With mul­ti­ple mu­se­ums to choose from, we had trou­ble mak­ing up our minds and went to two (the Bri­tish War Time Mu­seum gets a men­tion here, the lay­out was con­fus­ing at times how­ever the time line of the First World War on the bot­tom floor was thor­ough and im­pres­sive and a must-see) We did not give our­selves enough time at the V and A, first of all, be­cause it’s the world’s largest mu­seum of dec­o­ra­tive art and de­sign (over 4 mil­lion ob­jects) and sec­ond of all be­cause they had a the­atre exhibit. The­atre geeks unite!

5. La Perla This might have been what was ac­tu­ally on Re­becca’s bucket list but it doesn’t hurt for a cou­ple to go to­gether - comfy couch, drinks and a great view. 6. The Savoy If a throw­back rich and or­nate piano bar ex­pe­ri­ence is what you are in the mood for, head over to the iconic Savoy for a bevy and a chin wag. 7. The Shard and Tower Bridge

The per­spec­tive and glam atop the Shard is very cool, then take a late night ro­man­tic walk over the iconic Tower Bridge (com­monly mis­taken for Lon­don Bridge be­cause of the song)

8. High Tea

We were pleas­antly sur­prised with the at­mos­phere at the open, airy Palm Court at the Lang­ham but the real rea­son to go here is the all-you-can-eat sand­wiches. They just keep com­ing around with the plat­ters un­til you fi­nally say, no thanks I’m full. Save room for the scones and clot­ted cream of course but the desserts are nicer to look at than to eat.

9. Al­ley Eater­ies

Get lost in the back streets of Lon­don. Go find those lit­tle gems you will rec­og­nize from movies and songs plus small eater­ies packed with lo­cals, and pubs where peo­ple are spilling out onto the side­walk, where you too can en­joy a pint and a chat.

10. West­min­ster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathe­dral

If this is up your al­ley, make sure you check what time you’re go­ing be­cause I don’t think you can al­ways go in­side. We were happy to take a photo with the Abbey, skip the in­side and chore­o­graph a dance on the steps of St. Paul’s but skip that tour as well.

When stay­ing at the Athenaeum, ex­cel­lent food and drink are at your fin­ger­tips 24/7. We made sure to ex­pe­ri­ence din­ner at Galvin with Miche­lin­starred Lon­don chefs Chris and Jeff Galvin. Noth­ing like five-star food in an un­pre­ten­tious at­mos­phere. Try­ing some­thing new, with drinks rec­om­mended by the wait-staff, we were pleas­antly sur­prised, but if you’re into a night­cap, the fa­mous Whiskey col­lec­tion at The Bar is the real deal. It’s a re­ally cool spot to hang out in a swanky grotto-like set­ting and draw from their fa­mous Whiskey Col­lec­tion.

We have been talk­ing about go­ing back to Lon­don since the day we left. Ten days was not long enough for us (al­though it was more than enough for our kids to miss us a bunch). Maybe next time we’ll get to see the in­sides of those churches. Lon­don call­ing… again!

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