Tag Archives: London

My Travel in London 9 ~ Soho ~ Singin’ in the rain!

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London 2013 293-a

     I was too tired to appreciate the exhibits at the British Museum. I was sitting down on a stool against the wall at a café and browsing through a guide book of the museum instead of looking at the real things. In the meantime, I was getting a little energy back with a cup of coffee. There was a museum shop in front of the café. I decided to look around the shop until Yuko came. (The former episodes are here: My Travel in London 1, My Travel in London 2, My Travel in London 3, My Travel in London 4, My Travel in London 5, My Travel in London 6, My Travel in London 7, and My Travel in London 8)

     Mmm…Should I have bought something with the Rosetta Stone motif? There were many kinds of souvenirs printed with the text of the stone in the Collection Shop: Rosetta Stone T-shirts, Rosetta Stone iPhone cases, Rosetta Stone calculators, Rosetta Stone notebooks, Rosetta Stone bags, Rosetta Stone mug cups, Rosetta Stone umbrellas, Rosetta Stone ties, Rosetta Stone USB stick, etc! Yuko phoned me when I was debating whether to buy one of them. She came to the main entrance. I went out of the museum without buying any goods of the Rosetta Stone. Actually you can get them anytime on the Internet. http://www.britishmuseumshoponline.org/icat/rosetta_stone So, I might buy something with the stone motif later!London 2013 295

     When I looked back, the overwhelming powerful-looking edifice was there. You know, I had entered the museum from the north entrance under construction. Wow! I had actually been at the museum! I could hardly see its precious items, though…Well, I was not supposed to feel down! Yuko and I were going to see a musical that night! I was surprised when I met Yuko again. Both of us did not know where the theatre was located exactly… London 2013 296-a

     Not to worry! We were in London, which had been named as the best city to visit in the world last year. There were many signposts with detailed maps and street names in town. Besides I could tell the direction because I had seen a map of London many times. So, without any problems Yuko and I were able to get to the theater: the Palace Theatre. We were supposed to see Singin’ In The Rain in the prominent red-brick building.London 2013 298

     Yuko and I need to eat something before the musical started. After getting the tickets, we set off to a night town of the West End. Walking from Moor Street to Old Compton Street, we were standing at the door of Café Boheme. We did not have so much time to drift from place to place. So, we decided to have quick meal there. Actually I was too tired to have good appetite at that time, but the French restaurant gave me great satisfaction. London 2013 299

     I ordered Soupe a l’oignon or a cup of onion soup and Omelette or an omelet with herbs. They were excellent! The onion soup was the best I had ever had! The golden liquid gave energy to me! Yuko had the same onion soup and hamburger with French fries. Her dishes also looked really delicious. Everyone seemed to be enjoying their food. The atmosphere of the restaurant was very nice and our waiter was gentle and good-looking! Yuko and I had a great time at Café Boheme.

     At around 7:00 we left the French restaurant and headed to the Palace Theatre. All of the doors of the theater had already opened and were swallowing up people, when we arrived. Climbing up short stairs, we saw a bar floor on the right and many excited people holding glasses there. The interior decorations were gorgeous. I was almost overwhelmed by the historical atmosphere of the theater. Mmm…Should I have worn a more fashionable dress?CAM00929

     My seat was O-14 in the Stalls. A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H-I-J-K-L-M-N and O. That is, I was sitting the eleventh row from the front. We were quite close to the stage because there was not a pit on the ground floor for the orchestra, which played above the stage. Yuko was sitting at O-15, which was next to the aisle. We were able to see the actors up close because they acted not only on the stage but also in the aisle. It was as if we were also in the scene. The stage was really wonderful. I could not understand all the actors were saying, but I really enjoyed their performances.CAM00928

     They showered large quantity of water on the stage before the intermission and the ending and the stage became like a pool. The actors splashed water to the auditorium seating on purpose while dancing. That was why people sitting from the first to the fourth or fifth row got wet. Of course, they were squealing with delight instead of complaining. The rest of the audience also cheered at the spectacle. At the end of the play, the whole audience gave a standing ovation to the actors, the orchestra, and the rest of the staff. Yuko and I had a really great time!

     It was raining when we went outside. But no one put up an umbrella. Many people from the Palace Theatre were willingly getting wet, singing in the rain “Singin’ In The Rain”! Lots of people came out from not only the Palace Theatre but also other theaters in the West End. The street was full of excited people. Yuko and I did not know where the underground station was, but we did not need a map. We were just swept along in the crowd and then arrived at Leicester Square Tube Station automatically. CAM00930

     We took the Piccadilly Line to Earl’s Court Station together. Yuko’s hotel was near Bayswater and mine was near West Brompton. We said goodbye to each other at Earl’s Court Station. Yuko went to the eastbound platform and I went to the westbound of the District Line. Yuko was supposed to go to Wales and I was leaving for Japan next day. My feeling was still running high even after I was alone. But at the same moment, I was feeling sad when I thought about my flight back on the following day…

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My Travel in London 8 ~ Back to London ~ I was making a strategic plan!

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London 2013 264-a

     I cannot believe I have not finished writing about my travel in London yet. This is the eighth episode on my travel in London. (The previous ones are here: My Travel in London 1, My Travel in London 2, My Travel in London 3, My Travel in London 4, My Travel in London 5, My Travel in London 6, and My Travel in London 7) I have just said “in London” above, but I was in York on March 20 and stayed in Hull that night. A friend of mine Yuko, who studies English at the University of Hull, let me stay at her dormitory. London 2013 269

     Yuko and I got up at 6:00 next morning. We shouted for joy when she opened the curtains. It was sunny! Surprisingly there were no clouds in the sky. We made a quick change and headed to the kitchen. Yuko began preparing for our breakfast in a very assured manner when we arrived there. I asked her, “Do you need a hand?” in a fashion, but I did not help her. I was just watching TV in the sitting room instead. Hmm…we looked like a sweet mother and a spoiled daughter…London 2013 276

     Wow! What a lovely breakfast! Boiled potatoes, a boiled egg, a sliced cucumber, cheese, ham, blood oranges, toast with cream and jams, and tea, which Yuko had bought in York the previous day. Everything was fantastic. We enjoyed our breakfast in a relaxed atmosphere. London 2013 275

     There is a bus stop across from the dormitory. We left the dorm and took a bus for Hull Rail Station at around 10:00. I do not know the details, but it seems that there are at least two bus companies that run buses to the station, and that the fare is different. So, I did not know how much I would pay when I got on the bus. London 2013 278

     Actually I do not know how much I should have paid still now. When I asked the bus driver what the fare to the station was (You tell the driver where to go and pay the fare when you get on the bus in York and Hull.), he said something, blocking the slot of the fare box with his left hand, and motioned me to get in with his right hand. I did not understand what he said exactly, but I got the meaning. It looked like the fare box had broken. That was why I took the bus without paying. Oh, I’m lucky! London 2013 281

      After about a 20-minute ride, we arrived at Hull Rail Station. There is a statue of a British poet Philip Larkin in the concourse. Yuko says to him, “Wish me a safe trip!” when she sets out and “I’m home!” when she arrives at the station from her journey. Well, I will say to him, “Hi, Mr. Larkin! Nice to see you again!” next time when I visit the station.

     We were going to London. Most of the scenery we saw from the train window was the rural countryside to Doncaster from Hull. Suddenly Yuko shouted, “I’ve just seen a hare!” “Where!?” I looked for the form but missed it. What I just found from the window was a power plant where a chimney and its cooling towers were billowing out white smoke. Those concrete structures looked ominous in the idyllic view. London 2013 282

     We changed trains at Doncaster to King’s Cross in London. The train was almost filled with passengers. Our seats were rear-facing table seats. It was my first time to sit at a table seat in a train. Yuko and I were sitting across the table from other passengers. At first, I felt a little awkward, but soon I noticed the advantage of our seats. Surprisingly, Yuko had prepared for our lunch: sandwiches! It was very convenient for us to use the table when we were having the sandwiches. They were, of course, delicious! 907249_502287319819908_976877235_n-a

     We arrived at London at around 2:00. Yuko was going to her hotel in Bayswater to check in and then to St. James’s Park to see daffodils. In the meantime, I was going to the British Museum. We decided to meet each other at the shop in the British Museum at 4:00 and went to each destination separately at King’s Cross. I took the underground to Russell Square. It was an about 10-minute walk to the British Museum from the station. I entered the museum from its north gate, which was under construction when I visited. London 2013 283

     My main target in the museum was that famous chunk of rock: the Rosetta Stone. As you know, the Rosetta Stone was a part of a stone pillar discovered by Napoleon’s army in the Nile Delta in the 18th Century. There are the same text written in three scripts- ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, Demotic and ancient Greek- on the surface of the stone. It is beyond renown that a French scholar Champollion deciphered the text in the 19th Century. London 2013 284

     I found the stone easier than I had imagined. The stone was sitting neatly in the Egyptian Sculpture section in the Ancient Egypt Department on the ground floor near the shop. It is wonderful to see the real thing that I learned from the textbook in my school days. I had thought the stone would be much smaller.

     London 2013 290After the Rosetta Stone, I began exploring in the museum. But I could not. I was more tired than I had thought. I could not climb up the stairs from the ground floor briskly. My legs were heavy like lead. I had to drag myself. I was walking somehow, but I did not have stamina or concentration to appreciate precious exhibits. I was just browsing. I got more exhausted because I was just walking without a plan.

       At last, I got too tired to move any more. I used all my strength that was left and bought a guide book of the museum, and then slumped in a chair at Court Café on the ground floor. It was almost 4:00, when I was seeing Yuko. Then she phoned me and said that she would arrive at the museum near 5:00. “Take your time,” I replied and decided to rest there for a while. It was funny and pitiful to scan the guide book of the museum without looking at actual things…Well, I was making a strategic plan to walk in the museum efficiently if you look at it another way…

My Travel in London 5 ~ London to York ~ You were right, Ricky.

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  London 2013 162  

     “The signal is red,” the announcement echoed in the quiet underground train. I was in a tube train which was waiting at West Brompton Station in London on the early morning of March 20. It was at around 6:30 a.m. There were a few passengers in the carriage. The door kept opening and the train showed no sign of starting. That announcement was probably two or three minutes after I got on. I thought, “You were right, Ricky,” when I heard the message. London 2013 171

     I was supposed to take a rail train which left King’s Cross at 8:00. Ricky, who is an English teacher in Japan, had advised me, “You should take the underground at least at 6:30 because they often stop.” The tube train left West Brompton Station about five minutes later, but it stopped in the dark tunnel before reaching Earl’s Court, the next station. After a while, there was an announcement: “The signal is red. “You were right, Ricky,” I thought that again.

     I changed train at Earl’s Court Station to the Piccadilly Line from the District Line. King’s Cross is the 12th station from Earl’s Court. It would be a nearly 30-minute ride. There were many abandoned Metro, the newspapers, on the floor and seats of the train. So I picked one and began reading it: William Roach, a famous actor in U.K. had provoked fury by claiming that the victims of sexual abuse brought it on themselves because of their sins in their past lives….Uh-oh…

     At King’s Cross Station I went to the restroom. It was my first experience to use a pay toilet. It cost 30 pence. I had 30 pence, but I did not have 10 and 20 pence coins. The gate just accepts the two types of coins. So, I had to exchange at the machine nearby. At 7:45 the train I was supposed to ride started boarding. My coach was E. The train was filled with passengers. Most of them took out their computers and papers from their bags and started to work as soon as they sat in their seats. I was doing nothing but seeing changing scenery from the window.

     Vast meadows were spreading outside. I sometimes saw some small brick houses, sheep and horses there. The train was heading north toward Edinburgh, passing through fields covered with white snow. My destination was York, where I was supposed to see a friend of mine. She is a Japanese student at the University of Hull. The monotonous landscapes and the rhythm of the train made me sleepy. London 2013 173

     “Anything for your refreshment?” A voice of a spirited and cheerful man echoed in the carriage. He was pushing a trolley loaded with drinks and snacks. Many of the passengers stopped moving their hands on the keyboard or scattered papers before them and called out. “Coffee.” “Orange juice.” “Coffee and chocolate.” I was thinking of the word of “refreshment” while hearing their verbal exchange. I was trying to find a proper translation into Japanese. But I could not find a good one. “Refreshment” is a nice word.

     More than an hour had already passed since I got on the traLondon 2013 172in. There are six stations between King’s Cross and York…I thought that. But the train had not stopped once yet. Probably it was an express. The first station it stopped was York. Some of the passengers in my coach also got off the train there. They did not look like tourists but business people. Alighting, they rapidly disappeared from the station. I was the only person who was left behind on the platform. London 2013 176

     “Yuko-riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin!” I waved to my friend who had been waiting for me near the entrance of the station. I was relieved to see her smile. Yes, I had arrived at York!

     Actually I was going to write about the town this time. But I’ve already written quite a lot. I’ll tell you about York next time.

 

My Travel in London 1 ~ Westminster ~: Would you stop climbing up my leg, please?

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london 168      I opened the curtains and looked out of the window. It wasn’t raining. “Oh, I’m lucky!” I was at a room of a hotel near West Brompton Tube Station in London on the morning of March 19. I arrived at Heathrow Airport the previous night, when it was raining hard. Besides, the weather forecast on the Internet had said the week’s precipitation would be more than 90% when I had checked in Japan. london 010

     I got dressed immediately and headed to the restaurant in the hotel for breakfast. I was supposed to have continental breakfast, but I upgraded it to a hot meal by paying £5.50. It was at around 6:30 a.m. but there were more than 10 people in the restaurant. There were fruits, salads, sausages, bacons, hams, fried eggs, scrambled eggs, omelets, bread, cereals, juices, tea, and coffee on the counter. Everything  was delicious, and I ate too much.london 017

     It was my first time to visit London. Actually, it was also my first time to go abroad by myself. I was thrilled to plan where to go that day while having breakfast. I had many places I wanted to see. I got up early because I wanted to spend my time well. After finishing breakfast, I left the hotel before 8 o’clock. london 019

     It was about a five-minute walk from the hotel to the underground station. A man was giving Metro, the newspaper, to people in front of the station. Wow! You can get a newspaper for free in London! It was my first time to use the subway in U.K., but I was able to pass the gate smoothly with an Oyster, which is an IC card for taking buses, subways and trains in London.london 026

     London’s subway is very easy to use. If your destination is west from your present place, you just go to westbound platform. That’s all. So, I did not need to check the underground map during my trip. First, I changed the train at Earl’s Court, and then got off at St. James’s Park Station. My first destination was Buckingham Palace. I walked through Petti France and got to the palace. It took about 15 minutes from the station.london 029

     There were no tourists near the palace. I just saw some people who appeared to be in a hurry to get to their offices. It was before 8:30. It might have been a little bit too early for sightseeing. I heard something like drums while I was taking photos of the palace. I started walking towards the sound, and saw some guards were marching in Wellington Barracks. I was happy to see moving guards because the guards at Buckingham Palace looked like statues…london 031

     The place I was standing and looking at the march was an entrance to St. James’s Park. I decided to walk through the park to my next destination: Westminster Abbey. People were passing by at a quick pace. They must have been in a hurry to their work places, but I was in no hurry. I was walking at leisure. london 032There were many birds and squirrels in the park. When I stopped walking to see the squirrels, one of them came to me and started climbing up my leg. “Would you stop climbing up my leg, please?” I said that in Japanese. Oh, it understood Japanese! It stared at me for a while, then climbed down and went up to a fence and saw me off. Daffodils were beautiful in the park…london 034

     When I arrived at Westminster Abbey, I saw hundreds of people waiting to enter the church. Most of them were students on school trips. I lost my drive to see the inside of the building when I saw so many people. london 039So, I went to Dean’s Yard instead of the abbey. You can go there through the gate of the yellow building next to Westminster Abbey. There is a building called the Cloisters near the yard. london 043Actually, I was going to a café named Cellarium in the building. But I didn’t have some tea there because it was before 9 o’clock, when they would open, and I was still full. That was why I just walked around the corridors peacefully. london 046

     There was a demonstration in Parliament Square across from Westminster Abbey and Big Ben. The participants looked like students. london 067All of them were wearing the same masks of Mr. George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer of U.K. and holding the same bags written “IF”. london 068Afterwards I discovered that it was to remind the chancellor to keep his promise on overseas aid spending before he revealed the 2013 budget next day. It is wonderful that young people are interested in politics and think seriously about the world. Sadly most Japanese students are not interested in such issues… london 061

     After seeing the flashmob, I left Westminster and headed for St. Paul’s by tube. I’ll write about Holborn and City area next time.