Friday, October 28, 2016

England: London Day 4 and 5

We grabbed a French pastry at Paul's across the street for breakfast and then headed to the Victoria & Albert  Museum to be in line when they opened. It was just one block up the street from our hotel.

Buddha taking a selfie.
One of our favorite rooms in the V&A Museum was the Cast Court. Basically, they've gone to other famous scultpures in the world and taken exact replica plaster casts of the sculptures, then brought them home and put the replica casts on display.

This is an exact replica of Michaelangelo's David in Italy. WOAH. I had no idea he was this big. MASSIVE.

Here's a view down the court. They had casts of famous doors at churches, graves, fountains, sculptures, etc. It was so fascinating. We spent a lot of time in there.

My next favorite room were the Raphael Cartoons. So when Michaelangelo was commissioned to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the 1500's, Raphael was commissioned to do the art on the tapestries that were to cover the walls. He painted these full size masterpieces (like 10 feet by 15 feet, so they are lifesize) that were then carefully cut into strips and sent to the weavers to be made into tapestries. Sometime later, the paintings were reassembled and mounted on canvas. They are now owned by Her Majesty The Queen, but she has loaned them to the Victoria & Albert Museum to be on display. They are just massively gorgeous. Definitely one of my most favorite things we saw on this trip.

Now here's a modern art display I can get down that hangs in the lobby. (Can you tell I'm still kind of bitter about the modern art displays at Blenheim? Ha ha.)
After the museum, we jumped on the hop on/hop off bus tour to Russell Square. Chris was feeling a burger, so we walked around until we found a McDonald's and stopped in there for lunch.

Marble Arch and speaker's corner. Someone yelled out to us "Jesus loves you!"
Then we did Rick Steves' Westminster audio guided walk from Westminster Bridge to Trafalgar Square. We put in our double headphones and went to town.

Westminster Abbey. It was like $30 bucks to go inside and Chris was "all churched out," so we didn't go in. This is one that I wish we had! So much history here. And so beautiful. I'm sure the inside is just as lovely as the outside.

We walked down Whitehall Road past the Imperial War Museums and stopped for a couple pictures at the Horse Guards Parade. This is where the changing of the guard starts. They do it every day in the summer and every other day in the off-season.
Some super skinny houses that I thought were cute.
Trafalgar Square right in front of the National Gallery.

Then we walked down Regent's street for a bit and did some more shopping. On our way home we walked past the nearby chapel at night because Chris wanted to see it all lit up.
As we walked back toward our hotel, they had set up ice skating and Christmas lights in front of the Natural History Museum.  It's only October, people! Sheesh. (And it really wasn't that cold. We didn't even have coats, just layered sweaters and jackets.) Then we ate dinner at Leon's again (they did mediterranean boxed dinners that I quite liked) and got a Ben's Cookie next door before we headed back to the hotel to crash.
This was our last full day in London. And our grand finale -- the Harry Potter play! Here I am getting dressed for the day. The play didn't start until 2:00 PM but I had to wear my Hogwarts shirt, of course.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was sold out as far in advance as they were selling tickets. I ended up putting a search out on ebay before we came to London and found some tickets that I bought from a woman for about twice face value. It was a screaming deal, considering they were selling on Stubhub for about four times face value, and selling like crazy! This was my certificate to prove she had "gifted" the tickets to me. I had to remember to take this with us that day.
We didn't have any huge plans for the morning so we decided to walk to Harrods for a pastry for breakfast. It was much less overwhelming on a weekday morning when it wasn't so crowded.
The fish market.
The food market.
The pastries!

We picked a couple of cronuts, walked outside to eat them on the sidewalk, and then walked back inside to shop some more, ha ha.

The toy shop was my favorite. They had SO many cool things in there, and a TON of Harry Potter gear. But once again it was so overwhelming that all I did was buy chocolate, ha ha.
Then we walked back towards our hotel through the streets of Kensington.
It was such a lovely part of town, and so convenient with the Tube literally right across the street from our hotel. I would stay there again in a heartbeat.
Obligatory photos in front of the telephone booth.

We hopped on the tube and headed to the Palace Theater. The box office was set to open at noon and we wanted to be there in plenty of time to redeem our tickets and make sure there weren't any hiccups. Chris wasn't entirely convinced that the tickets I'd bought on ebay were legit, ha ha.

TA DAAAAA! They were real.
This is how excited I was to see the play.
We entered the theater with plenty of time to find our seats and get settled in. The theater was like four levels high.
Here's my excited face again. I couldn't contain it. Oh, and did I mention we were on the second row? WE WERE ON THE SECOND ROW.
Chris wasn't nearly as excited as me, but he was getting there.

Here's what the stage looked like at opening. There's the sorting hat and some luggage at the train station. Intrigue!
And this is what the stage looked like for intermission.
I won't give anything away, but MY GOODNESS. I hadn't read the screenplay book before we came, because I'd heard it was best to see it live without reading it first. The special effects were incredible, the actors were amazing, it was just MAGICAL.

The do the play in two parts because it's so long. You can either buy tickets for parts 1 and 2 and consecutive days, or you can buy tickets for parts 1 and 2 both in the same day, which is what we did. And I'm so glad we did! I couldn't have waited 24 hours in between parts 1 and 2. Way too much suspense!

In between parts 1 and 2 we took some pictures outside, then walked around and grabbed some dinner.
We walked past a place selling Spanish Jamon. Yum! Then we wandered a bit and did some shopping. We had about two hours all total in between parts so we just relaxed and enjoyed the night life in this part of town we hadn't really been in at night.
Here's the stage at the beginning of part 2, that started at 7:00 PM.
 The stage at intermission of part 2. (The staircases were some of my favorite scenes! The way they moved them around while people were walking on them, it was just like JK Rowling describes in the book. Magical!)
And here's the stage at the end of part 2.
We had to get a little selfie in front of it.
Honestly, I didn't know what to expect going into the play at all, but I laughed and I cried and I loved it. It was so emotional and real and magical! The characters were alive on stage, right in front of my eyes, and I could see every bead of sweat from where we were sitting. I couldn't have imagined anything better. It was the perfect finale to a perfect trip. Like the icing on the cake! If the play ever comes to New York or LA, I'm so road tripping it there to see it again. Everyone needs to see this play! Gah. Amazing.

After the play ended, we hopped the tube and went home to crash, because it was close to 10:00 PM already.

We woke up and took our time packing up our things to head to the airport. We took the last of the pounds we had left and bought some pastries at Paul's before hopping on the tube to the airport. Here is our last selfie in Heathrow.

Our plane on the way home was less than half full. We each had a middle row to ourselves to spread out and lay down on. It was fantastic!
Thanks to Chris for such a fun trip. I love you and I love that we can have these adventures together, and that we both love to travel this way. I can't wait to plan our next adventure!