Days 5 and 6 in London: Costa Coffee, Westminster Abbey, Rules, Covent Garden, London Eye, Oxford Circus

Day 5 was Jan 1, 2009. We got off to a late start, still worn out from battling crowds the night before. We found a little Costa Coffee on Vauxhall Bridge Road near Victoria Station. It seems to be the kind of place where a lot of locals know the owner (a nice, old Italian guy) and come in regularly. Costa Coffee seems to be a franchise – I’m sure their not all as good as this one is. The friendly Italian owner lets us practice our Italian and seems to really know his coffee.

My wife had a very good cappucino and I tried mince pie which was OK but I’m glad to have had a pretty British experience. Then we went to Westminster Abby, arriving around 3:00. They say the last admissions happen at 3:30 but our friends got there at 3:20 and could not get in.

There were two lines. One very long line for cash and one very short line for credit (the one on the right). We took the credit line. Other times we passed Westminster Abby and the lines seemed about the same. Even the shorter line took a while though and Westminster Abby was pretty crowded but not too jammed that you couldn’t enjoy it.

Just after 4:00 I got online for evensong and my wife went looking for a bathroom. The ones in Westminster Abbey close at 4:00. The ones outside the abby were also closed. She ended up buying a coffee across the street and waiting on line for their restroom. She had to talk the guards into letting her back in since evensong had already filled up. I guess when she told them her husband was in there waiting for her (and I had managed to save her a seat) they let her in. My friends got in too. They weren’t allowed to see much of Westminster Abby but they were able to enter the regular part of the church for evensong which is a mass and free.

Evensong was interesting but not the awesome experience I was expecting after reading a few other people talk about it online. They did Benjamin Britten’s New Year Carol since it was Jan. 1. The mass tok about 45 minutes maybe half of which was singing. At the end there was a hymm that was so easy to sing even I was in tune though I’d never heard it before. Hearing myself singing the right notes is a rare treat so I was pretty happy about that.

The four of us then took a but to Covent Garden and hung out for a couple of hours. We saw some guy in a pink speedo juggle a chainsaw and a couple other things. It looked so dangerous my wife didn’t actually watch. They also have this little capsule where they put people’s wishes on the wall. It was kind of fun to hang out in there and wait for the funny ones like “I wish my wish would get on the wall” or “I wish I had bigger boobs and my boyfriend had a bigger %^@*$.”

Then we went to Rules, the oldest retaurant in London. Everybody really liked their food. My wife and I ended up spending about 60 GBP on 1 salad, 2 mains, and 1 dessert. We all thought it was reasonable but it’s certainly not cheap.

Day 6

Another late start today (we like to relax on vacation after all). We started with the London Eye around noon. It involved some waiting (we had bought tickets in advance – the line for redeeming vouchers is shorter than the one for buying tickets so it worked out well) and it was 15.50 GBP each but we enjoyed the “flight” or whatecer you want to call it. Like my friend said, you should do it once but you probably won’t want to do it again.

Then we went to Leicester Square / Covent Garden again. We had lunch at Wabamama, a Japanese themed franchise very popular with the locals. We enjoyed the food and were reminded that London is expensive because even this relatively inexpensive lunch cost us close to 20 GBP. A little more than 20 with the tip actually.

We planned to walk around Covent Garden some more because the shops had been closed the night before but we got bored fast and went to Oxford Circus. Like Covent Garden, this is a very crowded shopping area. We felt the first few rain drops of our trip but luckily nothing serious. Again we got bored pretty fast and took the bus back to Victoria (where we’re staying).

Now it’s time for a Korean dinner from the illegal B&B next to our illegal B&B. Then probably a little exercise and a lot of sleep. Tomorrow is an Evan Evans bust tour going to Leeds Castle and a few other places. I’ll let you know…

Filed Under: Vacation experiences

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  1. Aditi says:

    I loved Covent Garden. Shopped there. I liked the walk from the tube station near National Galary to Tate museum of Modern Arts, did not like most of the artifacts there but felt cocooned by culture.

    National galary was better!

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