Finally, it was time to head to London. After a hearty sushi and teppanyaki lunch at Shogun in Birmingham, it was finally time to say goodbye to Kuya Ferdie. He and his family extremely took care of us during the past three days and we remain ever so grateful. It was the most relaxing, and headache-free visit, and truly appreciate everything they did for us.
London, here we come!
Once we left Shogun, we rushed and barely made it to the train station, and I just trusted my judgment that I’d be boarding the right train. I boarded what looked like the gate towards London. While we got on the London train, we boarded the train with multiple stops. We were supposed to get on the one with fewer stops. Nothing we could do now other than get to London safely. This actually gave us time to breathe and relax for a couple of hours.
My niece, Sheena, met us at Euston Station. We also met her friend, Leo. Nancy and I visited Sheena in London back in 2015. She took us around to different sights. After briefly meeting up with them, she and Leo took our carryon luggage with them and checked us in to our hotel. Sheena arranged for me and Maddie to stay in a hotel close to the train station which was not that far from London.
Once they left, Maddie and I made it to Victoria Station. We had tickets to Hamilton in London. And before we watched the show, we made our way towards Buckingham Palace for a photo op. I mean, come on! It was not everyday that I could say, “let’s go to Buckingham Palace!”
All roads lead back to Hamilton
Yes, I admit. I might a little Hamilton obsession. So there! I actually wrote a separate entry on how I got 2nd row center orchestra seats (stalls section) to Hamilton in the West End. That, of course, deserved a blog entry in itself.
After visiting Buckingham Palace, Maddie and I walked towards Victoria Palace Theatre. It was just a quick 15 minute walk. We made perfect time to get to the show. We got our tickets in January 2017, and we waited a year and a half for this moment. It was the culmination of our European visit and I was so glad we made it to the show. You could read my review when I publish my next entry.
After Hamilton, we met up with Sheena and Leo and made our way back to our hotel for the evening. We had one more full day in London and we wanted to make sure we hit a few key spots.
Reuniting with high school friends
We started our day early. It was our last day and I wanted an abbreviated tour of London. I’ve been to London once, and had an idea where to go. I also wanted to squeeze in a couple of mini-reunion meet-ups with two highs school friends.
Greg and family
Maddie and I headed for the Tower Bridge. Voila, such a small world. We met up with one of my good friends from high school, Greg. He was with his family (Antonette, and their 3 kids – Adam, Dana, and Hazel). The ironic thing – we live about 15-20 minutes away from one another, but we rarely get to see each other. It had to be in London where we’d meet up. But, of course! Our paths would cross every now and then but meeting up in London was just epic.
We took quite a few pictures near the Tower Bridge. We got to catch up. How cool was that? Meeting one of my good friends thousands of miles away from home. It was good to see Greg. Thank you, Greg and fam for the time to meet up with us. We better see each other more now that we’re all back at home.
So good to see Celina
On our way to London, I did post that I was headed toward Euston Station, and Celina replied to my post that her office wasn’t that far from that station. How often does that happen when you get to meet up with friends you’ve known from way back when. So Celina and I stayed in touch and somehow found a way to meet.
This was not the first time Celina and I met outside of our hometown. A couple of years ago, we also met in New York City while she and I were both in town for work. So for this meet-up, she invited me and Maddie to her office at the Wellcome Foundation. That place, in itself, was a bit of tourist attraction.
We had lunch upstairs. Celina and I got to catch up on the initiatives that she’s involved with. I also shared with her my passion for traveling for nearly free, and gave her a little tip in booking her trip from LA to Maui that August. She gave us a tour, we met her staff, and lastly, a tour of the Wellcome Collection museum and gift shop downstairs. Thank you, Celina, for taking the time. Until our next travels somewhere around the world.
St. Pancras and Kings Cross Station
King’s Cross Station wasn’t that far from Celina’s office. Maddie and I walked towards the station. It was no more than 15 minutes. Again, we have been strolling around Europe now for nearly two weeks, and I still couldn’t believe the gorgeous weather we’ve had. No rain, no gray clouds. Just pure summer perfection.
Nancy and I went to this station back in 2015. It looked like a big castle from the outside and I just had to come back. I also took Maddie to Platform 3/4 (famous for being featured in Harry Potter).
From one attraction to the next
Shortly after, we boarded the tube and made our way to three key sites – the London Eye, Westminster Abbey, and the Houses of Parliament (known for the Big Ben clocktower). These were all within walking distance. It was crowded as expected. Lots of tourists. The only disappointment was the Houses of Parliament was under renovation. Therefore all we could see was the construction in progress.
And I am telling you, I won lottery tickets to Dreamgirls
We watched Hamilton the night before, and knowing that we love watching musical theatre, I decided to press my luck and join the digital lottery for Dreamgirls. I used the app from TodayTix and submitted my email address to be entered in the lottery. While Maddie and I walked past the House of Parliament (Big Ben), I checked my email and there it was, an email that I won tickets to Dreamgirls. How much did I pay for these front row seats? No more than $20 USD per ticket.
After watching Dreamgirls, we met up with Sheena and Leo at Covent Garden.
It was already past 10pm, and I wanted Malaysian food from Rasa Sayang, but it was already closed. We had Chinese food instead and that’s how we capped our last night in London.
I have one more entry after this….our flight back home and my takeaways from this European getaway.