Posts Tagged With: Royal Albert Hall

Night Moves

While the majority of sightseeing and travel experiences are daytime adventures, this is not always the case.  Being in London as the winter solstice approaches means that daylight is somewhat curtailed but there is plenty to do after dark.

Part of the attraction of visiting different cities is to indulge in some of the cultural events and entertainment on offer.  In that respect, this trip has been exceptional.

Thanks to the wonders of the internet, we were able to research and book some, but not all of the tickets online several months ago.  One of the bonuses of being in one place for an extended period of time has meant that we could add things into our itinerary as we discovered them – sometimes at quite short notice.

Live theatre is one of my passions and I was ecstatic to secure tickets to see ‘The Ferryman’ at the Gielgud Theatre in the West End.  This play, set in Northern Ireland in 1981, has received rave reviews since opening in April 2017 and the season has recently been extended yet again with ticket sales open until May 2018.

The lights of the West End beckon.

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A glimpse of the stunning foyer.

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We both agreed that ‘The Ferryman’ was probably one of, if not the best, play we have ever seen.

On our previous visit to London in 2014 we attempted to take a tour of the Royal Albert Hall, however, it was closed for cleaning and we did not have enough flexibility in our itinerary to go another day.  So, it was back on the list for this trip.  When I was looking up the details of the tours I had the crazy idea that we might actually be able to go to a performance there.  Imagine my delight when I discovered that the autumn season of the ‘Classical Spectacular’ (4 days) coincided with our time in London.

Stunning view as we approached the Royal Albert Hall.

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And the equally impressive interior.

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Ready for the show to begin.

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Guns and cannon for the 1812 Overture – the finale.

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As we were on our way to the Imperial War Museum last week I saw a large billboard near Waterloo Station for ‘Hair’ – 50th anniversary.  For those of you who know how old I am you will realise that I was too young to see the original production.  Nevertheless, I am very familiar with some of the music and was keen to see it.  The venue was a long way, physically and metaphorically from the glittering lights and plush seats of the West End.  The Vaults Theatre which seats about 150 people is a bold and quirky theatre space located in the subterranean world beneath Waterloo Station.

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This was an enjoyable and fun night out and I am really pleased that I saw the billboard.

Our final show for the trip was tonight at Wilton’s Music Hall which is acknowledged as the oldest music hall in the world.  The venue has had a chequered history and was virtually a derelict ruin earmarked for demolition 50 years ago.  After major restoration work it is now an auditorium capable of seating about 200 people.  Some of my early research led me to look into guided tours, but like Royal Albert Hall, I discovered that a better option was to see a show.  ‘Liza Sings Streisand’ was a single night performance featuring Liza Pulman.  We were familiar with Liza having seen her performance as part of ‘Fascinating Aida’ at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2014.

Part of the interior.

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About to begin.

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She certainly did not disappoint and I am now the proud owner of a signed CD as well.

Seeing 4 unique performances in vastly different venues has been an amazing experience as none of the shows are likely to come to Australia.

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Busy with Bookings

With less than 7 weeks until we leave we have everything pretty well organised.

However, one thing that was not booked was our carparking at the airport in Brisbane.  We live 80km (50 miles) from Brisbane and have limited options of people who could take us to and from the airport.  It is just easier to drive ourselves and park the car securely.  Whilst this comes at a cost we factor it into our holiday expenses.  There are several options either at the airport or off-site and serviced by a shuttle-bus.  Thanks to a ‘hot deal’ (their words) and a discount code we managed to get undercover valet parking located 3 minutes walk from the international terminal for less than outdoor parking at an off-site facility with shuttle-bus transfers.

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The other bookings are a bit more exciting.

We had already booked tickets to the ‘Classical Spectacular’ at Royal Albert Hall which I have written about previously.  You can read the post here.  As a result of snippets of information gleaned from various sources I found and booked 2 more shows.  The first is Liza Pulman in a show titled ‘Liza Sings Streisand’ at the historic Wilton’s Music Hall.  The other is a play titled ‘The Ferryman’ which has great reviews and is playing at the  Gielgud Theatre in the West End.

I particularly love the fact that it is highly unlikely that we would have the opportunity to see any of these shows here in Australia and of course, the venues are unique to London.

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Paris Plans

The title of this blog post seems rather odd since our trip is to the UK and primarily London.  However, GMan managed to convince me that a day trip to Paris would be a good idea.

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We have booked our return tickets on the Eurostar and done a bit of research on how to get around as well as what we might like to see and do.  It will be a long day and I know we will only scratch the surface.  I am hoping to take a stroll through Montmartre, see the Sacre Couer, visit the Musee d’Orsay as well as a river cruise and walking some historic areas of the Left Bank.  There may be time to see other sites but I am determined not to rush madly from one location to another.  I would much rather have time to just enjoy the surroundings.

The other thing we have booked is tickets to a show at Royal Albert Hall.  It is the Classical Spectacular which is staged for about 4 days twice a year – in March and November.  You can watch a preview of it here.  I stumbled upon it when I was researching tours of Royal Albert Hall so decided that tickets in the front row of the first level balcony was far superior to a tour.

It is now just over 5 months until we depart and last weekend we met with the housesitters who will be taking care of the house, garden and most importantly our animals.  That was just about the last piece of the puzzle so I feel as though we are pretty well ready to go.

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Opulent and Over-the-Top

We started our trip in London and had allowed for 2 days at the end of the adventure to see a few more things in the capital.  One of the things that I wanted to see was the Royal Albert Hall and take a tour of this magnificent venue.

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Unfortunately, it was closed for maintenance so I had to be content with seeing it from the outside.  I am sure it is stunning inside but I will have to save that experience for another time.

Directly opposite the hall, in Kensington Gardens, is The Albert Memorial.  It was commissioned by Queen Victoria in memory of her husband, Prince Albert and is an over-the-top Victorian extravaganza.

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From here we made our way to nearby Knightsbridge and that most famous department store, Harrods.  I had heard of the Egyptian escalator and here it is.

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We wandered through the food hall and just shook our heads in amazement.  Then there were the Christmas goodies.

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This was too much for me and I had to get out and back into the ‘real’ world for a while.

In the midst of all the high-end retailers we stumbled upon a Peruvian food street stall in Jermyn Street.  We bought a very modestly priced lunch of spiced chicken, rice, quinoa and salad.  Once we were re-fuelled our next stop was Fortnum & Mason’s where we were greeted by the doorman.

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The staircase was more like the entrance to a grand home than a department store.  It was replete with red carpet, red velvet-covered handrails and chandeliers on every level.

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The Christmas decorations were amazing – not a single paper chain in sight!

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This was one of the window displays.

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Our final stop was Liberty of London.  I do not have any photos as I was in a state of sensory overload by this time.  You will just have to believe me when I say that chandeliers, decorations, the stock and prices were all just over-the-top.  These are just 3 examples, albeit fairly extreme ones, of the consumerist mindset.  I also saw shop after shop selling clothes, homewares and jewellery in unbelievable quantities at ridiculous prices.

Everything we saw today had to be seen to be believed but there is clearly no understanding of the concept of ‘enough’.  It is really difficult to reconcile the extravagance that I witnessed with the reality of so many in this country who are struggling to keep a roof over their head and feed the family 3 meals a day.

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