When you think of London, every one of us has a different opinion. Whether you love it or hate it, and no matter what you like to do there, London offers a lot for a flying visitor! Emma and I spend 4 days in London at the beginning of December, and had an absolute blast , hitting theatres, taking in tours, and generally walking all around the capital. I’ve never really been to London around Christmas, and although I was worried about the craziness, I was excited to see the city lit up with Christmas lights.
We managed to squeeze so much out of the 4 days we had there, and barely stopped, so I’ve split my round up of the city into 4 posts (one for each day, obv) in an attempt to try and do our trip justice!
We’re really lucky that we live right by a train station, and not far from the trainline that runs direct from Liverpool to London. From us, it takes around 2 hrs on the Virgin train to travel to Euston, and if we use our railcard, we can get down there for £23 return, so it makes total sense to make the most of any trip. So he hopped on the train, and sped across the country taking in the snow covered fields and generally getting into the holiday spirit. We opted to stay in the Travelodge in Covent Garden when we arrived, as Emma has stayed there before and liked it, it’s affordable, and it is in the centre of everything we wanted to do. It’s a bonus that it’s only a 25min walk from Euston.
When we first planned this trip, it was all centred around getting tickets to Hamilton, which actually happened but for Monday night, so, we decided to look at what shows offered Saturday Matinee and evening performances at an affordable rate, and do a West End Double Bill. We really like the theatre and seeing musicals, and our favourites happen to both be long-running shows in London, so we bought cheap tickets for Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables. The discovery of the weekend turned out to be seating price and choice. We completely gambled on cheap ‘restricted’ seats on the front row of the Grand Circle for both performances. Yes, leg room is some what tight, but then you expect that when you’re sat at the front and there is a barrier in front of you. Yes there is a small, very low railing, but there is also padding on the top of the barrier in front, so you can lean forward and get an incredible obscured view of the show. OK, our knees were a little sore after back to back shows in these restricted seats, but the shows made it worth it. So, if you’re ever looking for good, low cost seating, have a look at that row!!
The first theatre stop of the day was at Her Majesty’s, the home of Phantom of the Opera. I have wanted to see this musical in the West End for close to 15 years. Emma and I saw it in New York in September, and my Mum and I went a couple of years ago to see it in Liverpool when it toured, but I still wanted to see it in it’s home. I’ve been harping on to Emma about going for a while, so when we scored seats, and researched the new Phantom, I couldn’t wait.
And I’m pleased to say that it didn’t disappoint. The cast, orchestra, and set were absolutely amazing. Ben Lewis was an incredible Phantom. He sang all of the correct words to Music of the Night and was juts marvellous in the role. I am very particular about my Phantom’s, and walked out both relieved and pleased that I saw him perform. Kelly Mathieson had a stunning voice and was pretty awesome as Christine too. I know the Phantom is, obviously, all about the Phantom, but a bad Christine can break the show. Raoul, we found out once looking through the programme, was not actually played by the cast guy, but by one of the understudies for the performance we went to see. You couldn’t tell, he was insanely talented, and the three of them came together so well at the end. I absolutely loved it, I loved all of the cast, the effects were brilliant and bold, and it just reminded me why this musical is my favourite.
Once we left, we needed to give our legs a bit of a stretch, and get a proper meal. Leicester Square is full of nice bars, cafés, and restaurants, but we had our mind set on Chipotle, and thankfully there was one nearby on St. Martin’s Lane. We both love Mexican food, and both adored Chipotle when we visited the US, so it was only right that we went straight there. Given the time on a Saturday evening, it was surprisingly quiet, which meant we had space and time to enjoy the ridiculous portion sizes they do there, and to sip on a beer. I’m pleased to say Emma also liked the show, it would have been awkward if she hadn’t really.
After stuffing ourselves full of Mexican food, we walked through Leicester Square, up through Chinatown to Queen’s theatre – long time home of the longest running musical Les Misérables. I’ve seen the film, and hated it, so was a little nervous that I wouldn’t love it. It’s Emma’s favourite musical, so I squished myself onto our seats and vowed to try and enjoy it. The seats we had were so close that i felt like you could almost reach out and touch the actors! I actually really enjoyed it. The revolving set was incredible, and the level of detail and intricacy was insane, especially from our close vantage point. The main cast were pretty good, especially Killian Donnelly’s Jean Val Jean. One of my favourite bits was post curtain call when they broke character to raise money for a local AIDs awareness charity, he has such a thick Irish accent that is so at odds with his character.
We had a pretty awesome first day, and by the time we got back to the hotel room we were tired, cold, and thoroughly entertained. Stay tuned for Day 2 coming soon!