Trip Report – London Day 2
Saturday morning started at a leisurely pace. After the previously packed night and the hectic work week I needed a little rest before I started my day. I spent a bit of time online seeing what events were happening and trying to plan my day. Since this trip was a bit spur of the moment and I didn’t know if I would be meeting up with friends I didn’t plan the day in advance, which is unusual for me.
I read that an event called West End Live was starting at 11am in Trafalgar Square. The event promised to be a showcase of West End (the UK Broadway) shows. So I decided I would head that way and see what it was all about. The weather was still gorgeous and it was a great day to do anything outdoors.
I took the Tube towards Trafalgar Square and arrived a bit before 11. I walked through the area that was set up for the event and saw that there was already a line wrapped around the venue. I didn’t want to spend my only day in London waiting in line so I wandered into a breakfast spot called Garfunkel’s and had a proper English breakfast. Sitting down for breakfast gave me time to look through a couple of tourist brochures I picked up along the way and to figure out my game plan. One of the fliers was advertising tours along the River Thames and given that it was a hot sunny day a boat ride seemed like an excellent idea.
I finished up my breakfast, stopped in a pharmacy for some sun screen and headed back to the performance to see what I could see for a little bit. As I approached the area I could hear the Phantom of the Opera title song being played. I found an area outside of the pavilion where I could get a decent shot of the action and watched the performers for a little bit. I heard some songs from Cats, Miss Saigon and then they moved on to a newer play I wasn’t familiar with before I left.
I wasn’t quite sure where the tourist boats were on the river but I wondered towards the London Eye figuring that would be where I would set up shop if I had a business that catered towards tourists. I wandered along the river taking in all the famous sites, Big Ben, the House of Parliament and the London Eye. I took some selfies on one of the bridges and noted how polite the other tourists were who stopped and waited for me to finish my selfie before crossing in front of me (I guess they thought I found the random beam on the bridge in front of me a fascinating thing to photograph).
I walked and walked and walked and eventually found the queue for the boat tickets. There were three companies selling boat cruises all for the same route and cost. Everyone seemed to be lined up for one outfit though and the the line seemed to be 30 minutes long. I got in one of the other lines, bought my ticket and was on a boat in about 20 minutes. I sat on the top deck and enjoyed the sun as we cruised down the River Thames.
I bought a one way ticket and the end of the line was at the Tower of London. It did seem that you could stay on board and head back to the start no matter if your ticket was one way or round trip, but I needed to get out of the sun anyway and see what was in store for me next.
When I got off the boat I could hear music coming from a little grassy area near the boat dock and headed over. There were a few vendors set up selling food and snacks on the sun filled lawn. I decided to have an ice cream cone and sit for a few minutes, taking in the surroundings. There was a great vibe with people relaxing and enjoying the summer afternoon sun. After a bit I headed into a nearby hotel to freshen up, recharge my phone and take advantage of some air conditioning for a bit.
I was still a bit disappointed I had not had the Indian meal I craved the night before and hoped if I went back earlier I would be able to get a seat at Dishoom. So I turned on my “faithful” GPS and asked it to take me to the restaurant via public transport. Now maybe it’s the metric system or maybe my GPS is wonky but what seemed like a short walk in the map turned into an hours walking to get to the train station. I made a quick stop at the House of Fraser as I heard they were having a big sale on Diesel Jeans. As it turned out this location does not carry Diesel. I wandered into some other stores, but they were all packed. Big shopping day in London!
I got back on the Tube, got out at Trafalgar Square where I saw the West End Live performances just ending up, got a bit lost, and then finally – hours later – ended up at Dishoom. I now have an obsession with this elusive restaurant and it will be on my list to visit at the next opportunity that arises. By this point it was peak dining hour and there was again a line out the door. I continued my trek onward, now pretty exhausted and cranky (you will note there are no photos of this leg of my journey as I had given up all hope of survival at this point.)
Fortunately I was able to get a seat at my second choice, Punjab and had delicious butter chicken. In retrospect Indian may not be the best meal choice for solo dining as its hard to justify ordering more than one dish. Regardless, after a glass of wine and my meal I was feeling much better and at peace with the world. I wandered out of the restaurant and into a few shops to pick up some last minute gifts.
I finally made it back to the hotel just after dark, ordered a large glass of wine (I love that wine comes in sizes in the UK!), skyped home and quickly passed out.
Sunday morning I had an earlier flight and took an #Uber to the airport at 5 am.