Thursday, 9 March 2017

Tourists in London

Last weekend, we went on a coach trip to London to see The Lion King in the Lyceum Theatre. We booked the package through Ticketline UK and the trip included coach travel to and from London (as well as coach travel to our various destinations over the weekend), theatre tickets, and bed and breakfast at the Guoman Tower Hotel. If you want a stress-free weekend break where everything is taken care of for you, I'd highly recommend this option!

We left Cardiff at 8:45am on Saturday morning and stopped at Reading services on our way to London for an obligatory sandwich stop and toilet break. It took us a while to get through central London due to standard traffic jams and a few accidents, but we eventually arrived at our hotel at around 2pm. Tower Bridge was quite literally on our doorstep!

As our rooms weren't ready for us when we arrived, we went for a walk to explore our surroundings. In addition to Tower Bridge, the Tower of London (with the impressive Shard building in the background) was also within walking distance of our hotel. We called to Wagamama for a quick lunch then walked back to the hotel to get settled into our room before leaving for the theatre. 

When we got back to the hotel, we discovered that there'd been a mix-up with our room which meant we didn't actually have one assigned to us. However, we spoke to very apologetic manager who offered us a new room and upgraded us to an executive suite, so we couldn't complain too much. We had an hour to ourselves before getting back on the coach to get to the West End, and I mostly spent that hour admiring the view and the rainbow outside our window!

The coach driver picked us up outside the hotel at 5:30pm and took us to the West End where we were the first drop-off. The show didn't start for another hour and a half so we went for a walk to Covent Garden and happened to stumble into Venchi...

I went for a combination of salted toffee and white chocolate and it was SO GOOD. We wandered around a very busy Covent Garden, with our ice cream, sorrowfully noting that the Disney Store has disappeared from the main square, then headed back towards the theatre ready to take our seats.

The Lyceum Theatre is such an impressive building, both inside and out, and I was so excited about setting foot in there to see the acclaimed show I've wanted to see for years. We were seated in the Grand Circle which meant many many stairs up followed by many many stairs down to our seats in row C, but we were really pleased with the view we had of the stage (and the many flights of stairs were good for my Fitbit stats).

There just aren't enough superlatives in the world to describe how good the show itself was. I was completely blown away by the costumes, the set, the choreography and the general goosebump-inducing music the whole way through, and I'd see it again tomorrow if I could. I loved the show's take on Rafiki in particular, and Timon and Zazu were also firm favourites. The transition from young Simba to adult Simba was cleverly done, and the extra scenes added to the show which don't feature in the film didn't disrupt the flow at all. I loved every second of it!

Once I managed to tear myself away from the tempting merchandise stand, we walked back to our pick-up destination and the coach took us back to our hotel via a few other pick-ups s in various parts of the West End. After admiring the nighttime view from our room, we promptly fell asleep ready for a busy Sunday of sightseeing.

After a lovely breakfast at the hotel on Sunday morning, we were back on the coach by 10:30am ready to be dropped off at the Haymarket for a day of exploring, sightseeing and shopping. Although it was supposed to rain heavily all day, London obviously didn't receive the memo. We made the most of the sunshine and blitzed all the famous sights in the area, taking lots of photos while we were at it. We walked to Trafalgar Square then to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament...I've visited this area with work recently but it's been years since I was an actual tourist in London!

After taking in all the sights, we walked back to Covent Garden and did some shopping. We did mostly browse rather than shop, but I can never resist purchasing something small in Ted Baker when I'm in the area. We also went into M&M's World in Leicester Square for the first time which was possibly even more impressive than its New York equivalent. On an unrelated note, I did feel as if I was playing Monopoly bingo when I looked at all the street/area signs around me!

All shopped and sightseeing-ed out, we sat down for an hour to have our lunch then made our way back to the pick-up point via a few more shops, including a quick stop at Ben's Cookies. We were completely exhausted by this point and I fell asleep on the coach almost immediately.

We arrived home at around 8:30pm on Sunday evening. It was a lovely full weekend and we managed to fit loads in alongside our main objective of seeing The Lion King. I definitely want to book another theatre trip soon as they're pretty addictive... I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we'll manage to get tickets for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child one day. 

Have you seen The Lion King in the theatre? What did you think? 

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