A s soon as you get off the train, you’re aware that this is a fast paced metropolis. And you’d better have your Oyster card nous about you or you’ll have to stand in the queue with all the other tourists! Luckily we’d been pre-warned and had been given all of the inside information for all of our travel card smarts! We sailed straight past the crowds and made our tube train in minutes.
We were staying in Bloomsbury, just off the Tottenham Court Road. The Bloomsbury set were a literary clique in the 1930’s – Virginia Woolf, Clive Bell and E. M. Forster amongst many. Earlier it had been inhabited by the likes of the great composer, Handel and then in the 1960’s, Jimi Hendrix. So a cool place for cool people. We fitted right in!
China Town is the other side of Shaftesbury Avenue and then there’s Trafalgar Square with all of its museums and galleries, Westminster and Big Ben and then the River. We headed straight into Soho, lunching at the delightful Princi on Wardour Street before stopping off for a coffee in the Bar Italia on Frith Street. There is still a massive Italian influence on Soho. And the price of the food is unbelievably cheap considering that this is central London.
We strolled down Shaftesbury Avenue to Piccadilly, through Leicester Square to Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery. This is as good an art collection as anywhere in the world. You’ve got your Manet’s, your Monet’s and your Caravaggio’s and a world of art excellence in between. We wondered around, gaping at the fantastic art on the wall and the parquet flooring underfoot. Some buildings are just a delight to be in and the National Gallery is one of them.
That evening, we’d managed to get tickets for Mamma Mia at the Novello Theatre on the Strand. I absolutely adore those old theatres, and the Novello was a welcoming space with helpful staff and a nice line in gin and tonics. And what a show! If you haven’t seen the theatrical production, you really must. It was so much better than the film. We laughed, cried and danced. It was infectious and highly recommended. London had me from the get go. Maximum Euphoria!