This was already my fifth trip to London and my sixth to the United Kingdom and it was incredible again. This time I went with the goal to do all the things I never got around to do on my previous trips. Four days full of new experiences.
Only loaded with one bag of carry-on I landed at the London Gatwick airport on Thursday noon and since I already knew my way around Gatwick the exit and the train station were found rather quickly and it only took me a few minutes to get out of the airplane and into the train to Victoria Station. The only thing that stopped me for a few minutes was having to charge my Oyster card with a few pounds. As you may not know the money on an Oyster Card has no expiration date, unfortunately there wasn’t enough left from my previous trips to get to Victoria.
I stopped by the flat I rented through Airbnb to leave my luggage before heading to the city for the first time on this journey. My flatmate (it was a shared flat) introduced himself as Flavio from Italy so I invited him to join me in my going to Covent Garden. Although Covent garden was not on my list of places I had never been to it’s always worth going. And since the restaurant “Union Jack by Jamie Oliver” was on my list and had a franchise in Covent Garden I did not feel to bad about going there again especially afterwards, the dishes were absolutely tasty and lovely to look at. Now Covent Garden is a place where the best buskers in the city get to play after auditioning for a time slot and a space and only get to play for the people if they get voted to do so. Many celebrities started their career in Covent Garden, among others Ed Sheeran and James Blunt.
After a quick lunch I went on through my list of stores I had never visited before. This is where Flavio went on to follow his plans and I went to explore the Forbidden Planet a store that is all about the nerdier aspects of life. From comics and manga to fantasy books, playing cards, statues and other memorabilia and accessories you can find anything here, even Star Trek or deadpan ties. So if you’re into Comics, Star Wars, Star Trek, manga or the all-British phenomenon Dr. Who (list not complete) you will find an amazing time in the biggest store in London of the kind.
After the shopping trip of the different kind I went on to get dinner. Again at a place I had never been to. This time I ended up at the Angus steakhouse where I enjoyed the menu that their name almost ask you to order: an Angus beef steak. for a total of approx. £45.- for a three-course meal I was full and ready for the evening that was to follow.
So for the first evening I planned on going to the 99 club. This is a comedy club that can be found at various locations but is most prominently visited at Leicester Square. There were three acts and a host that made sure we were having a great time and during the 2 hours of program I almost fell off my chair laughing twice and was close to tears from laughing once. I can highly recommend visiting them at one of their locations, especially if James Acaster is scheduled to appear. Even my journey back to the flat was good fun since around this time many young people of London start heading for the clubs and are usually quite entertaining in the underground.
My second day I started out with a business meeting until noon and visited various restaurants and pubs I had never been to before. Most notably the Crypt which used to be Londons burial ground during the renaissance time and is now home to a lovely little restaurant, a small shop, an art gallery and museum.
Friday night ended on a high note and was the highlight of my trip, although I didn’t expect it to be before the time. Dressed sharply I went to Victoria station and on to the Apollo Victoria Theatre where I had a ticket to see Wicked. And what a show that was! Nothing had prepared me for the show that Emma Hatton (as Elphaba Thropp) and Susanna Stevenson (as Glinda, the good witch of the south) were about to put on about the story of the wicked witch of the west before she became the wicked witch. Emma Hatton, a singer / songwriter, got the audience to feel for the green witch and with every passing minute more people in the audience became fans of Elphaba. Many of the singers and stars in the charts couldn’t hold the water to her performance on stage and I wished the musical would never end.
Saturday was completely devoted to a trip through the English countryside. With an hour-long stop at the Stonehenge, the most famous of all British stone circles, where we go to gaze at the heavy stones that still no one knows why they were put there, we went on tho see bath, the ancient Roman city with the warm springs. Bath had many things to offer, next to “The Crescent” and “The Circus”, two areas where the celebrities and well-connected have their 4-million Pound houses I visited the local indoor market and the Pump Room, a restaurant that was built in an old Roman pump room and ate a lovely lunch while listening to the piano player that plays every other day (if it’s not him then its a string quartet). Also the high street bears many lovely stores and a few quite good tailors. Only this time I restricted myself to buying some Fudge and tea (and while “shopping” I had the idea for a shopping bag for men with style: the Chopin bag, with an excerpt of the notes of Chopin’s Nocturne printed on it).
Back home I changed and went on the one of the oldest and most famous clubs of London: the Ministry of sound, where thanks to a friend I got to know on an earlier trip to London, Flavio and I got in very quickly and spent a great night in the VIP area (I’d like to thank Amanda for this incredible experience).
Sunday was a rather tired day. Packed with my carry-on and on only very little sleep I managed to visit King’s Cross station (very important to any Harry Potter fan) and Paddington station (very important to another great book of my childhood: Paddington) and went on to eat at another chain restaurant that has gotten very popular with the London hipster scene: Nando, a restaurant that has a menu consisting of almost exclusively variations of chicken.
Unfortunately this time too, four days are just not enough for London but they left me with another set of memories I will never forget.
Are there any points that should be included in any trip to London (other than the usual suspects Big Ben, Tower Bridge and the Shard) or would you like some more information on any places I have been to this weekend or any weekend before that? Please feel free to ask in the comments here or on Facebook.