It’s been a month already since I was in London, and I never wrote about all the great new places I visited! For those of you who were around when I went to London back in September, you might have a sense of déjà vu. That’s because I took my formula for a great trip (two-and-a-half days, one concert, one musical, plus touristy stuff) and just changed the details. Swap McFly for Taylor Swift, Les Mis for Phantom, and the Harry Potter Studios for… well, I had to go back there, and you have London, Take Two!
I am a bit of a fan of American theme restaurants – especially one where I can get carbonara…
That means Planet Hollywood was pretty much the ideal restaurant for me. Annette was sitting right in front of a prop from Top Gun, and there was a mask from Phantom of the Opera (we were about to see the musical version) and costumes from Planet of the Apes. They did a good strawberry daiquiri, another plus. However, it was the music that won me over completely. The songs made up far and away the best playlist I’ve ever heard in a restaurant – there was Taylor Swift, there was the Backstreet Boys, and there was ‘That’s How You Know’ from Enchanted. What more could you ask for?!
Yes, I’m a publishing geek, but this was a place I was very much looking forward to seeing. These offices are home to Penguin, Ladybird, Puffin and DK, where I was fortunate enough to have an interview. Don’t get too excited – I didn’t get the job, but it was a good experience! (I was so nervous beforehand that I felt ill, but still, great experience.)
The 02 Arena
Not going to lie, the 02 resembles an ugly marquee. When we approached it, it didn’t even look that big. Then you step inside and it’s like a Tardis. We had to take several really long escalators – it did not look as tall from the outside – to reach the top level, then we stepped into the arena itself.
My sister got vertigo when we saw McFly at the Royal Albert Hall. She would not have been able to step foot onto the top level of the 02. In the RAH, the seats in front reached our knees. At the 02, it was closer to the level of our ankles. The distance to the seats in front was so narrow that one girl who was trying to get to the end of the row had to cling on to the arms of the seats for fear of falling. I know for many people the arena, or the scale of it, will be familiar, but for someone who has spent most of her time seeing concerts from the floor level of Glasgow’s SECC, this was quite a venue.
We were there to see the lovely Taylor Swift and the Red Tour. Again, I have to be honest, there was a few times when I felt like a middle-aged cynic because parts of the show were aimed at a younger audience. On the other hand, some songs were real productions. ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’ and ‘Love Story’ used dancers and costumes to create a couple of showstoppers. My personal favourite, though, was still ‘All Too Well’. It’s one of my favourite songs ever, and there was one of those great moments where you can hear thousands of people singing along. The set was also well done, because she had a miniature stage at the back of the arena that rose up into the air, to cater for fans nearer the back, as well as a little flying platform that took her back to the main stage.
She was one of my two favourite singers that I hadn’t seen live, and I’m really glad I made the trip to see her.
The Warner Brothers Studio Tour
OK, so this isn’t a new place, but it was completely worth a second visit! I saw a few things I had missed the first time, and the massive Hogwarts model was just as breathtaking as before.
I was determined to visit a tourist attraction because of stupid goal number twelve, but as you can see from what we squeezed into two-and-a-half days, there wasn’t a great deal of time. Unfortunately, I had started to feel a little bit ill – perhaps I wasn’t over my cold after all – and I only managed to walk to the British Museum and take a seat in one of the galleries. Sorry, Annette! After what felt like a mammoth effort to stand up and take a few photos, it was time to get ready to see Phantom!
There was an Italian chain restaurant I hadn’t visited before this trip. How?! Prezzo was conveniently located across the road from the theatre, so it was finally time to try it out. The carbonara was good, but there was some cheddar cheese on top, bizarrely. And if I were being a proper critic, I’d say it could have been less peppery. But I despise pepper, so I’m biased.
The profiteroles had chocolate cream inside them, so they were just that little bit superior to your average dessert.
Her Majesty’s Theatre
This is a gorgeous theatre, outside and inside. Of course, the initial impression of the stage is to be a dusty old auction-house, but once they pull away the heavy grey curtains (if they can – our guy had trouble!) they reveal the golden decoration around the stage. It was nice to see the Phantom in its home theatre, and brilliant to see Gerónimo Rauch, our Valjean, now playing the Phantom. He was, of course, incredible.
There we have it: six new places from my London trip! We also went on an epic walk one morning to take in the famous sights, but visited nowhere in particular, which was nice too.
It was such a good few days that I’ve spent the past month wondering what I can look forward to next. Luckily, I have a couple of ideas…