Down Time - The Graduation Adventure Day 5
Monday, May 26th
Oh, how we slept in this morning. We knew we would. I didn't expect we'd feel so great about that decision. Now for us, sleeping in may have only been until 8a or so, but it didn't matter. We. Slept. In.
Now the down side of sleeping in was the breakfast situation at the hotel. Overall, our hotel has been nice enough. It's in a very centralized location, so it's perfect if we need to pop back to the hotel to drop stuff off or head back to rest. The room is small, but we really don't need much. The shower is amazingly warm. Seriously. We both are beyond happy with the shower. The beds are fine. There are a ton of TV options at the ready. We're happy. But when it comes to the breakfast, it's more than a little...meh.
At first glance, the food is fine. There are many of the elements of the English Breakfast. You have eggs and sausage and beans and tomatoes and bacon. There are some cereals and yogurts and pastries. The lady comes around with tea or coffee if needed. But it's just bland. And if you're like Elias and don't care for most of the options, you're going to have a harder time with breakfast. Granted, he isn't the biggest breakfast eater in all the land anyway, but to not have a ton of options is hard.
The biggest problem on a day when you sleep in is that by the time you get down to breakfast, you're on the tail end of the breakfast service for the day. So the options, which were already slim, are now even fewer. I had to flag someone down for tea. The yogurt selection was grim. The pastries were even more so. I guess in the long run, it doesn't matter, but it is just a little disappointing. Especially since I'd like us to carb up for the day.
There was one big goal for today. This was the one thing Elias wanted to do more than anything in the whole wide world. We had to find the Burberry Outlet. The outlet was located kind of outside of the city. Or at least outside of the city center. We were going to Hackney. I know, right?? Actually, I really don't know. Hackney could have been in Scotland at this point. I had my guard up a bit as the directions provided by various folks on TripAdvisor painted Hackney as a place where every deviant person known to man made their home.
In actuality, Hackney (off of the Hackney Central Overground stop) seemed perfectly fine. Kind of a grittier feel, almost like an Aurora to London's Chicago. Maps are plentiful in the city. I have to believe these were erected for the Olympics. Not only does the map tell you which direction to go for various sights, but it gives locations for Tube stops and a drawing that shows you where you could get to by walking in the next five minutes. We made it off of the Overground and found Burberry on the map. Done. Let's do this.
Down the street, turn when you see the Tesco. On the corner, you'll see another Outlet store. Next door to that is Burberry. Online, I'd read you need to have a pound ready to store your bag/purse. I was ready to go, but the security guy waived me through. Apparently, my bag was completely fine. Woo Hoo!! Let's look for deals!!
Now really, what do you expect when it comes to a Burberry Outlet?? Prices were decent enough, but when I did the conversion math they were still high prices. I won't deny, there was a blanket/throw that I paused on. Had the conversion not been a factor, I may have considered it. But with the conversion, not so much. And there was one other piece I wanted...and was an amazing price. It was an Olivia Pope white wool trench. Originally £1100 (ish). It was knocked down several times and at this point was only around £175 or £200. Had it been in my size, it would have been mine. Oh, it would have been mine.
Elias did make a purchase. He found a scarf that called out his name. We're calling that his graduation gift to himself.
Now there were more options for Outlet shopping, but we didn't entirely care at that point. Scarf in hand, we walked back to the Hackney Central stop and made our way to Leicester Square. We wanted to see a show.
The other day, we stopped at Leicester Square for a chance to get tickets from the half price booth. TKTS is London's version of Hot Tix. Day-of shows are listed. You can pick some up, or not. When we stopped by on Saturday, we didn't get anything. There really wasn't anything to get. Today, we had to make a choice. Half price tickets at the TKTS booth or full-price tickets on Thursday?? Because we were going to see a show.
In the planning stages, we had several options for what shows to see. Now that we were here, we had a few additional options. Elias wanted to see Phantom of the Opera. Other than that, he was open. Once was an option (though Arthur Darvill wasn't in it at this point, so my interest level was lower). Kat and Leah told me to go to Lion King. That's an option. And Book of Mormon...I still want to see that one.
At the booth, we saw decent ticket prices for Phantom. It was more than I'd have liked to spend, but this was as good as we were going to get. We also talked to the guy at the booth and we have an idea about how to see Book of Mormon when we are back in London on Thursday. I'm not going of is say it for fear of jinxing us, but we are both totally interested in seeing the show.
We had five hours to kill before Phantom started, so we continued our shopping day with more shopping. Some time was killed in Covent Garden (bought some tea from the Tea Palace - the tea I had at the Landmark Hotel on Friday night). We wandered up and down the streets along with many other people.
Elias was starting to get hungry and we ended up at the Pizza Express. This is most definitely a chain restaurant. It was a nice, sit down restaurant and they served wine. We were both happy with the choice (and no, Elias did not partake in wine), though I have a bone to pick with pizza places in general. Please don't call a pizza a Margharita one if you're just throwing one leaf of basil on the pie. That is not a Margharita pizza. Thank you.
After some additional shopping (Forbidden Planet was a super geeky sci-fi store filled with super geeky people. My people.), we needed a bathroom break. What better place to go for a bathroom break than Starbucks?? Hah!! You thought I was going to say McDonalds, didn't you?? Well...that may actually have been a better decision. But Starbucks, it was. It was a £5 break, but totally worth it.
The original idea was to drop our stuff off at the hotel, but I wanted to make one final stop before we went back that way. I've been picking up pieces of tableware on One Kings Lane for the last year. Keith Brymer Jones pieces are adorable and my kitchen is full of the line. There is one piece I am dying to pick up here. It's a flour canister that isn't available yet in the US. I wanted it so much I have been tweeting the company trying to find the piece. They sent me in the direction of John Lewis.
John Lewis is, I'm guessing like Macy's. They have everything from electronics to home-wares to clothing. The store is right off of the Oxford Circus stop and we figured we could be in and out pretty quickly. It was easy enough to find the home-wares section. And it ended up being easy to find the pieces. Just not the piece I wanted. I even asked the person at the store (which I NEVER do). Sadly, I may not be meant to find this piece. Ultimately, I did tweet the company back when we got back to the hotel. I asked them where to get a lead on this piece.
The time at the hotel wasn't going to be long. But it was enough to refresh and recover. Sadly, the rain had started up, so everyone was rather grim. Coming out of the Piccadilly Circus stop to a bunch of miserable people with umbrellas trying desperately to get that picture of the screens behind them is no one's idea of fun. Yet everyone (including us) tried. We are going to go back on Thursday to have a do-over. We are also going back on Thursday to the souvenir shop called Cool Brittania. This was one of those super-sized souvenir shops that Elias and I love so much. We found one in Amsterdam and spent a good hour scouring for the crap we needed to bring home.
Before long, we walked down the street to find Her Royal Majesty's Theatre, where Phantom of the Opera has been running for the last 25 years. The theatre was oddly quaint. Cozy, even. And it really didn't look like there were any bad seats. Well, except for the poor sods stuck behind a post. Which seriously?? These are seats that are being sold??
The show itself was very good. I have two rants. And you can either stick along with me on this one, or just skip to the ABBA part near the end.
Rant #1 - this is one I did post on Facebook, but when a show is 25 years old and has played every city in the world for the last probably 20 years, people know the words to the music. The problem is that most normal people now are listening to dueling versions of Phantom being performed. There's the real version of the musical in front of them and the second version of the musical being performed usually behind them. I had a Spanish guy not only chatting during his non-singing parts, but also singing along to the "big numbers." And my favorite part, he was also being Spoiler Guy "look at this!! Oh, here's when he..." *sigh* When the entire performance can be viewed on Netflix streaming, there's no need to be a Spoiler Guy. Plus, being Spoiler Guy is a dick move.
Rant #2 - this is the one that kind of surprised me. Maybe I'm older and less prone to rooting for an awkward romance. Or maybe I was reading the news and then scrolling through too many of the #yesallwomen twitter topic trending yesterday, but back in the day, the Phantom was a tragic figure. Today, he's a raging asshole who deserves no pity. I didn't realize my reaction towards him would be so angry at how he treated everyone - especially Christine. Again, I really did enjoy the show. The performances were wonderful and the music is so beautiful. I just kept thinking about the difference between my 39 year old self and my 15 year old self. Or hell, even my 38 year old self (I watched the Netflix/BluRay version six months or so ago). What a surprise.
We knew we'd be hungry after the show. And we both learned a lesson on food. Elias learned if he is hungry for McDonalds, he needs to speak up instead of both of us wandering the streets at 11p for "something to eat". I need to not thumb my nose up at eating at McDonalds overseas. I didn't think I did, but Elias didn't want to "break (my) rules." He ended up with McDonalds. I ended up with Lamb Schwarma. We both won. We always do.
So there's nothing like eating fast food takeaway at our hotel room in the 11p hour. Add the ABBA shows on BBC4, and we had the best night. We were supposed to pack for tomorrow's train to Wales, but we were tired. Packing can easily happen in the morning.
5/26 - 21,200 steps. 9 miles.