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London 2008

It’s my Mom’s 60th birthday and this present is bigger and than any present I’ve given her in the last 60 years!

Written By: Gary on June 29, 2008 One Comment

Picture 3-1So my favorite place in London (England) for discount theatre tickets is TKTS half-price ticktes located in Leicester Square, it’s sort of in the park so you can’t miss it.

I discovered they list the available tickets on-line so that’s a bonus for next trip, no reason to rush down for tickets if there isn’t anything you like!

They are opening a second location in the Brent Cross Shopping Centre officially on June 29, 2008 but since I’m not there I can’t go check it out (that’s today!). I think they carry the same tickets at both locations.

Written By: Gary on June 11, 2008 No Comment

So I got some more photos up. London Day one, not a lot, but I did do some okay descriptions :)

Written By: Gary on June 11, 2008 One Comment

Theatre-Drinks-Pict2475So at some of the theater’s in London (and I’m sure in other places in the world) you place your order and pay for interval drinks before the show starts. This way when it’s time for intermission, your drink is already ready for you and there is no line. Very civilized :)

It’s just coincidence that it’s in “position L”, that was already on the sheet when I scribbled my name on it. So when I went to get my drink there was my bottle of Schweppes, a glass with ice and my order sheet (see attached photo).

Written By: Gary on June 8, 2008 2 Comments

london04-707So for the Waffle Toffee Crunch score: We were there eight days (Saturday to Saturday) and I was able to have a Waffle Toffee Crunch dessert seven of the eight days! They only day I didn’t succeed was the day we left for Cardiff. In my defense we were on the way to the train station before Garfunkel’s opened and they didn’t appear to have any in Cardiff (they few people I asked didn’t even know what Garfunkel’s was).

So I consider the dessert portion of the vacation as much of a success as possible :)

Written By: Gary on June 7, 2008 2 Comments

Cardiff-Photos
So I’ve got a few photos that I put together from Cardiff City Center. I’m not sure if the castle is technically in the city center or not but I including those few anyways. There are captions on a few of the photos.

Written By: Gary on June 7, 2008 No Comment

It’s been a very long flight and we took off late so we’re going to get in late. They were having problems with one of the bathrooms and they tried fixing it, then they gave up and had to drain the tanks(?) and that took more time. The long bathroom lines are annoying slow but at least they’re moving. The flight home was already eight hours and fifty minutes; I’m glad it was a direct flight, I’m not sure how it’s affecting the the people with connecting flights.

Saw some cool ice “stuff” while flying, not sure if it was part of Greenland or something else, it was a huge massive land formation that was all while and looked like it was ice.

I’ve got a bunch of other entries and posts that I still have to put on-line (or finish and put on-line still) so they’ll be more to come on-line….

Written By: Gary on June 7, 2008 2 Comments

StreetcarSo at StreetCar you can rent a car by the hour. They’ve got 500 pickup locations (and I think this is just spots where parked on the side of the street). It’s about 5.95 pounds ($12 an hour) for a Golf (Polo for 3.95) an hour or 49.50 pounds a day (and you get 30 miles of fuel). You must be a member for 50 pounds a year (show your OysterCard and get two memberships for the price of one).

Assuming you don’t have a need for a car very often, this is economical and ecological: you don’t need to pay for a car or insurance or parking, except for the times you need it; it’s such a waste otherwise if you don’t use it often. You don’t need to maintain it or anything like that. If I lived somewhere like London I would only need it a time or two a week (at the most), maybe big shopping trips.

This is very cool IMHO, this is the idea of of Sci-Fi/Future Utopian stories. Every shares a car or bicycles and has great public transportation. This is very unlike Michigan with poor public transportation and everyone owns a car (or two).

Written By: Gary on June 6, 2008 No Comment

This was an off-”Broadway” show (called Haunted) we saw someone bring flyers into one of the restaurants we were eating at so we took one and it sounding interesting. Then shortly after we happened to walk by the Arts Theatre and Haunted stuck in our heads so we decided to go…
Haunted-Play

Nineteen empty flats and just one sold. Why? What’s wrong with the place? And why does it want Alex and her children?

Four friends for supper. No supper.

An extra guest. A kitchen full of implements.

The evening veers off its polite rails and ends up somewhere very dark.

(from the Haunted flyer)

Now finding the place again was tricky, they didn’t bother to print the address on the brochure; it’s at 6/7 (Great) Newport Street, London WC2 in case you’re looking for it. But it’s only there until June 14.

Great acting, it all took place in one room but it was done excellent! It was a little confusing at times, but it didn’t really affect the story: Were there spirits in the house? Were they a little cRaZy? Was it a bit in their heads? Was anyone actually possessed? I actually think you weren’t supposed to know…

I think the stories based on the property are actually true (at least I read it on-line somewhere, so it must be true).

My only ture complaint was that it ended abruptly, too abruptly for me, but Mom didn’t seem to mind…Rats, while putting this post together I just noticed I could have saved $13.00 by getting Mom the senior discount :(

Written By: Gary on June 6, 2008 No Comment

The Oyster Card is a debit-type card for using the Tube (subway) and bus systems. It’s very very convienent, why they don’t push the Oyster Card as an alternative for tourists I have no clue. There’s advertising everywhere but not pushing it for tourists (the airports and train stations would be a logical choice). It’s a “gift card” that you load up with any dollar pound amount and just tap it (like the new Visa cards with the tap or blink function) to get onto a tube train or bus. If you use it a lot, it can automatically top up from your credit card so you’ll always have enough (and I think you can get your photo put on a more permanent card).

“Our aim is to ensure that Oyster always charges the lowest fare.
Where it doesn’t, we will refund the difference.”

It’s much easier and faster plus you don’t have to decide if you need a all day tube ticket or bus option or anything. It calculates the best possible fare for you at the end of the day and they promise it’ll be cheaper than tickets. Plus you can use it on the cool red double-decker busses!

It’s a 3 pound deposit, but I’m under the impression that when we return our cards we get the 3 pounds plus any other cash we still have on it returned to us. Our only concern has been not having enough on it when we get on a bus (it’d be too late to put more ca$h on it then).

So my vote is get a Oyster Card as soon you get to the London area!Later: We did get the deposit (3 pounds) and all our money back with no problem.

Written By: Gary on June 5, 2008 No Comment

Marguerite MusicalSo the first show we saw in London was a musical called Marguerite, it took place in German occupied France. Marguerite was married to a German general for convenience and falls in love with a jazz piano player. It was a beautiful old theatre with at least two balconies (there might have been a higher one but I couldn’t see it from the main floor).

We had tenth row great seats (halfway between center and the edge); we picked them up from the TKTS booth at Leicester Square which has different discount (almost all are half-off) tickets every day (I usually look there first when looking for tickets). I think they just have tickets for “west end” theatre but I’m not sure where the “east end” is (or north or south for that matter).

The writer/producer of Marguerite also did

  • Les Miserables
  • Miss Saigon
  • Martin Guerre
    It was fun, a little bit slow at times so we’ll see if it goes global. But, I thought Les Miserables was very slow and that one became “kind of” popular.

    Amazing scene changes on the stage! The way they transform one setting to another was excellent. Although it’s so good it really doesn’t leave much to the imagination which I think used to be a big part of the “theatre experience”.

    I’d definitely recommend this if this sounds like your type of musical. Heres a video clip.

  • Written By: Gary on June 4, 2008 No Comment

    Cardiff Words
    I cannot even describe to you how awesome the Wales Millennium Centre looked at night. All the letters were illuminated from the inside and it was just incredible! I just stared at it for a while, I’m sure I looked like such the tourist.

    All the little towers around the plaza (Roald Dahl Plass) were lit from the inside and the outsides were lit with different colors (which slowly changed).

    I thought it might be kind of busy down there, but since it had cooled off so it was pretty quiet down there. Sadly, I didn’t have my camera. I didn’t know where I was heading after so I didn’t bring it.

    It almost made up for the tall fountain being broken…

    Written By: Gary on June 4, 2008 No Comment

    So we made it to Cardiff via Train from Paddington Station in London. Very easy trip, Cardiff is the end of the line so no chance of missing anything. Beautiful day here! And the view for the train ride was great too.

    800Px-Roald Dahl Plass - CardiffWhile I love Cardiff so far, I hate to say that it’s included the biggest disappointment of the trip. Why? Because the Roald Dahl Plass is under construction. I was very very disappointed that the very tall shiny waterfall and a bit of the Plaza (Plass) was closed (especially the waterfall).

    I haven’t seen any kind of internet cafe here, I’m at a pub using the ‘net. People seem like to party around here, lots of bars and discotechs. It’s a college town at one end, but I’ve not sure that’s who the party people are.

    I’ll check out the ones nearby after I go see what Cardiff Bay is like once it gets dark; especially how the Wales Millennium Centre looks.

    Just in the few minutes I’ve been here, it’s really started to fill up!

    Travel tips: The train was about 50 pounds for the round trip via National Rail (certainly not the deal that someone mentioned to me on-line) I think pre-booking is cheaper (although I think we’d have paid eve more the day of instead of the day before), but if we had left London before 9:15 am it was way more (almost double I think) so check the times (return time did no matter). Many hotels offer late check-out and early check-in, they charge for it (about 10 pounds the few places I’ve noticed it), but it’s worth it for hotels that that don’t have a place to leave your luggage. We were going to stay until 4 or 5 tomorrow, but since late check-out is only until 2 pm, we’ll be leaving at 2.

    * Photo courtesy of Wikipedeia.

    Written By: Gary on June 3, 2008 No Comment

    So we haven’t had a huge amount of sun this trip and that’s okay since that means it hasn’t been hot, but today has just been wet wet wet. I want a nice sunny day to take Mom on a boat tour on the Thames or up in the London Eye (huge ferris wheel). We’re off to Cardiff in Wales tomorrow so you know it’s going to be a sunny day in London!!

    Written By: Gary on June 3, 2008 No Comment

    london04-707At this point I managed to get my dessert four days in a row!

    Warm Belgian waffle topped with vanilla ice cream, maple syrup and laced with toffee crunch pieces.
    - Garfunkel’s Menu

    I wonder if they have Garfunkel’s in Wales? I’d hate to blow my streak…

    Written By: Gary on June 3, 2008 No Comment

    photo_ukregentstreet.jpgMom is at Harrod’s.

    I’m in heaven! At the Flagship Apple Store on Regents street in London.

    It’s a huge store. A little bigger than in Chicago! Gotta go shop!

    Later – Turns out we have live music too! Jessica Hoop and Lissie, I’ll be checking them out on-line later…


     


     

    Written By: Gary on June 2, 2008 3 Comments

    The-Wolf-Man-Img 8520 2So while we were walking around there were a lot of film trucks and equipment, so I told Mom if she thought she saw anyone famous that it might be so snap a picture. The next corner we went around was all blocked off and looked like it was from the 1,800s.

    Turns out they were shooting The Wolf Man starring Anthony Hopkins and Benicio Del Toro; comes out April 2009. We never saw any of the big stars but it was all people in carriages and police carts all in old dress. It was very cool.

    If you look this photo you can see the rain machine up high on the crane. The worksers told us it was crazy when it was running and you don’t want to be anywhere near it.

    Written By: Gary on June 2, 2008 One Comment

    Big-Ben-Img 8549Here’s a good shot of Big Ben! We’ve walked and been around all over today. I think we were on the Tube 5 or 6 times today.

    We’ve got photos, but it’s wet out right now, so I’m not going to sit on the corner outside for free networking; I’m going to pay the big bucks pounds and use it in my room for a few minutes to get these of posts up.

    Written By: Gary on June 1, 2008 2 Comments

    Gary-Mom-Hpim0131So we’re having a great time. This is a photo (click to enlarge), we took somewhere near our hotel in the Kensington area.

    We’ve been all over the pace! It’s almost 1 am here (5 hours later). It’s been a little cool (I had to put on long pants tonight) but it’s been great!

    We took this with my Quik Pod which lets you take pictures farther away than you arms can stretch.

    Written By: Gary on May 30, 2008 No Comment

    So we got to the Detroit Airport super early, but it really made it ultra-low stress since we weren’t in a hurry at all and the lines were all pretty short so it’s been pretty easy going so far.

    My cool PacSafe secuity backpack got put through the xray machine a few times. I’m not sure if that’s from the wire mesh that’s in it or all the electronics…

    Written By: Gary on May 30, 2008 No Comment

    It’s been a crazy week. But it’s all going to be worth it!

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    Written By: Gary on October 6, 2007 3 Comments

    So I’m looking for a practical and cheap and semi-direct way to get from London, England to Cardiff, Wales. I figure my choices are train, bus or rent a car (I have no problem driving on the left). When I go to London in the spring I was thinking of spending a day or two over that way. Also, I’m looking for a place to stay in Cardiff near public transportation, decent but not too expensive (of course) a hotel or bed and breakfast would work. Of course I’ll want to visit this general area so I’ll need some walking tour information too (or book recommendation).

    Cardiff Words LightI keep seeing it on TV and movies and other places so I thought I’d check it out. I’ve never been in that direction, I think the farthest west I’ve been is Stonehenge/Sailisbury.

    Also, any bloggers who lurk around here and want to meet up drop me a note. I’m also looking for restaurant and other tourist recommendations. And if anyone knows about any Torchwood filming dates in the spring (I’m thinking they’re editing around now, so probably not) I’d be interested in that too, especially if you have any contacts related to seeing some of it.

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