London Travels: New adventures in “our” London

When you’ve been someplace a lot like my wife and I have been to London — three times in the past several years — there are things that become so familiar, that they’re like your own.

We’ll get breakfast supplies at “our” Waitrose, right next to our hotel.

Can’t beat the convenience

We’ll walk past the worlds worst-designed traffic circle on the way to “our” train station …

Seriously? Someone thought this would slow the traffic?

… where the trains will be clean, fast and frequent, and take us pretty much anywhere we want in the city. And I will never not chuckle at “Cockfosters.” (It’s even better in a British accent.)

In all our train travels in London, we’ve waited more than three minutes for a train once — when someone fell on the tracks. MBTA in Boston, take note.


Piccadilly Circus will always be a chaotic, fantastic, wonderful swirl of activity.

But it wouldn’t be much of a vacation if we just played the hits. The familiar provides a solid base, but even if we’re familiar enough with most of the corners so they’re not all new adventures, the true story of the vacation will be told by what we haven’t seen before.

I think this show could have a future.

“Les Miserables” was outstanding last night.

But then again, that shouldn’t come as a shock. It wouldn’t have lasted 30 years on the West End if they didn’t know what they were doing, and the latest Jean Valjean, Killian Donnelly, is a breathtaking talent.

It was so good, though, and Killian was his usual incredibly friendly self at stage door.

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We always plan some of our vacation — “Les Mis,’ “Hamilton” (by the way, we’re seeing “Hamilton” Wednesday), Wembley Stadium tour — and some possible ideas fall by the wayside, like going to the West Ham United-Crystal Palace game because I didn’t want to spend $140 or so for West Ham and Crystal Palace.

Other than that, I pretty much let my wife come up with ideas. So when she suggested going to Southwark to see Borough Market, I didn’t object.

The result was a visit to a bustling, ultra-cool place that felt like a secret world under a bridge that was a contrast to the glitzy, polished London north of the Thames (of which I am also massively fond).

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Borough Market was at least planned. Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre was something we decided to basically do on a whim as we walked the South Bank.

I’ve never really been into Shakespeare — although I did see a sketchy National Theatre Live stream of “Hamlet” starring Benedict Cumberbatch in a local movie theater a year or so ago — but it was there, we saw there were tours available, so why not, right?

It was great fun. The theater is a reproduction as close as information and modern requirements will allow, and while it’s used for shows during the summer, we got to see a group practicing as our guide told us about the Globe.

And what a history it was, from its start in what was at the time not part of London — the forebears to our Puritans weren’t interested in the rabble going to outdoor theater, or anyone doing much of anything fun, in the city itself — to why eschewing the original pine for oak on the stage in the reproduction was a mistake. (It turns out that oak didn’t go well with the leather shoes companies tried to use in an effort to be authentic. Injuries resulted.)

It was the kind of surprise that makes a vacation.

P.S. Seriously, listen to Killian Donnelly singing “Bring Him Home.” The sound quality isn’t great, but the guy is amazing.


10 thoughts on “London Travels: New adventures in “our” London

  1. mphadventuregirl

    When I went to England, I only spent 4 /12 days in London and most of my time in Bristol. My church choir was in residence at Bristol Cathedral at the time and due to that, both members and the choir got to go. I went up two days early with my family.

    So in those days, my mom and I saw Les Mis. It felt so surreal that my dream was coming true. I had an understudy as Jean Valjean. The moment I heard just one note, I knew it was more than expected. The staging, the orchestra, and the cast were so talented. So many reasons why that night was so special. So epic, powerful, emotional and passionate.


      1. mphadventuregirl

        It is so hard to describe why I love it so much. Brilliant score that conveys characters and plot so perfectly, complex and real characters, and heartbreak and inspirational score. Still hard to describe why I love him.


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