06 — 09 October 2014
So happy and excited to be back in London after three months! Unlike the first time I was here, I made sure I had plans for the precious 48 hours I had.
After touching down on Heathrow, I went to TKTS at Leicester Square to purchase tickets for ‘The Phantom of the Opera’. TKTS is between Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus station.
TIP: Check their website before heading down to see whether your musical is available for sale. There is also a map on their site, guiding you to the booth.
There are plenty of half-priced booths around Leicester Square, one right in the tube station at Leicester Square. I was told by the booth that Phantom doesn’t go on sale which is absolutely not true. Better to do your research before purchasing ‘em tickets!
Since the show starts at 1930hrs, I had plenty of time to roam around. Leicester Square is a fantastic location for sight seeing. First stop was to Trafalgar Square. All I could think about was that Harry Potter’s final film’s premiere was held there. And from Trafalgar Square, I walked through Whitehall where the Horse Guards Parade was located, towards Westminster Abbey.
While the Big Ben and London Eye seem to be on a ‘Must See’ list for first time tourist in London, I was simply unimpressed. But well, you’ve never been to London until you see the Big Ben isn’t it?
Two pals enjoying the view in the cold.
From Westminster, I walked towards Covent Garden. A place I planned to go mainly because of Alex Chennick's 'Take my Lightning but Don’t Steal my Thunder' art installation and the many restaurants there. Shake Shack, Jamie’s Italian, Big Easy.. to name a few.
Covent Garden is beautiful. I love the balance of high-end brand stores and flea market. I was contemplating hard where to have dinner at and settled for Big Easy since I will be heading to Dubai this month (they have Shake Shack there) and Jamie’s Italian was easily accessible for me since they have many outlets.
'Take my Lightning but Don't Steal my Thunder'
It’s easy to get lost around Covent Garden. There’s too many shops and shopping to do. It’s like a huge Haji Lane (for lack of better place to describe).
Neal’s Yard was also one of the places I wanted to visit. I had a little difficulty finding the place since it was located in the middle of an alley. It’s colorful and different from other buildings there but again, nothing impressive.
Made my way to Big Easy Bar-B-Q & Crabshack located at Maiden Lane. Ordered the daily special ‘Lobster Festival’ which is a whole lobster with fries. Exactly the same as Burgers & Lobsters but you get a free slushie.
The service was impeccable! I was served by Abril. She made sure I was well-taken care of asking me whether I wanted Ketchup/Mayo sauce with my fries and when I was finished with my meal, she gave me a dessert menu. The restaurant was quite packed by the time I finished by meal. 10-10 I would go back again! Big Easy 1-0 Burgers & Lobsters.
Trafalgar Square; while walking to Her Majesty’s.
From Maiden Lane, I headed to Her Majesty’s Theatre. Very traditional, old and intimate theatre which is what I love. The seats are similar to what you get on an airplane which is uncomfortable for tall people but just nice for me. What I dislike about the seats were that I have to lean forward to see the stage which is really a pain. My tickets were priced at £35.00 with a face value of £50.00. Grand circle, third row from the front. I was able to see most of the stage except the orchestra. They are very strict about no-photography during the performance including intermission but I managed to sneaked in one during intermission after the Chandelier crashed. Food and drinks are allowed in the theatre.
My heart and hands were itching to get one shot during the ‘Masquerade' scene but I have no guts. The number was absolutely stunning.. just perfect. A spectacle. I was quite worn out by the time Christine sang 'Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again' and the lady beside me fell asleep. Overall it was a fantastic show although Sofia Escobar didn't have a delicate voice like Emmy Rossum's.
Many people have asked why I chose Phantom over Les Misérables which is a much bigger production and probably a better musical (to them, maybe). But whatever, I don’t give a shit about Les Misérables because I don’t like the story line, period.
Lovely experience. I just wished I had someone who enjoys PFTO to share the experience with. The closing credit song (film) ‘Learn To Be Lonely' is so appropriate for me.
It was quite late when the show ended but I managed to brave the cold and walk towards Westminster to catch the Big Ben and London Eye when it’s dark. Afterwhich, I made my way back to hotel.
Perhaps the reason why I am able to accomplish much more that what I planned was because I was alone. Before ending this lengthy post, I have to add that I was able to get to places seamlessly because of the iPhone app, City Maps 2Go Pro. I didn’t have to ask a single human being for directions and I did not get lost, at all.
All photos taken by iPhone.