Mark\’s Rants, Raves And Other Things ;)

Rants and raves about things that interest me

London Day 1

Posted by Mark Sztainbok on March 27, 2008

After having the breakfast buffet in the hotel, we caught the Tube to Madame Tussaud’s (District line to Edgware Road then Circle line to Baker St). Before we had left Seattle, I had purchased a discounted combination ticket to Madame Tussaud’s and the London Eye. The only condition was that I had to specify a time when we would be at Madame Tussaud’s. Stupid me thought that that would mean that we get in quicker. Boy was I wrong. When we arrived there was a massive queue which we thought was people purchasing tickets. After asking one of the staff members, we were advised that this was line for vouchers and prepaid tickets. From the impression I got, quite a few other people had thought the same thing that I did with regards to the prepurchased tickets i.e. that it would mean not having to queue, etc. Overall it took about 1/2 hour to get inside to Madame Tussaud’s.

Once inside the place was ridiculously crowded, making it very difficult to take photos, etc. as people would continually bump you or walk right in front of you while trying to take a picture. I had previously been to Madame Tussaud’s back in 1988 on a vacation with my parents and siblings and I remember it being as crowded. The crowds made it not very enjoyable and I wouldn’t go back again. The Chamber Live is worth skipping too as it was really scary at all. The only good thing was the Spirit Of London ride which takes you through some of the history of London.

I was also disappointed to learn that the London Planetarium which was located next to Madame Tussaud’s has been converted into the Stardome which simply shows an animation movie on the domed roof and is just another part of the whole Madame Tussaud’s star (not of the astronomical kind) focus.

I think a large part of the problem with Madame Tussaud’s is that you are forced to walk through the whole attraction from start to finish with no clear paths or separations even when there should be.

After leaving Madame Tussaud’s, we caught the Bakerloo line to Piccadilly Circus. After taking a few photos, we headed down Regent St to The Strand where we saw the Admiralty Arch before heading to Trafalgar Square, where we saw Nelson’s Column and stopped to have some lunch in the Square. We had some sandwiches and sushi that we bought from Pret A Manger which was across the road from the Square.

After lunch we headed down Whitehall, past Downing St (where the British Prime Minister) to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, where we stopped to take photos of both and of the London Eye.

We next proceeded to the London Eye to utilise the remainder of the Madame Tussaud’s ticket combination. The London Eye is a big ferris wheel that is located on the embankment of the Thames River diagonally opposite of Big Ben. You get put into a glass bubble which holds about 25 people and gives views in all directions. Being a ferris wheel, I thought that the London Eye would move quite quickly but it moved relatively slowly to allow you to get an optimal view of London and a chance to look in all direction.

Next we hopped on the tube from Westminster to Victoria via the District line to pick up our tickets for Wicked that evening. Following this we headed back to the hotel room where I did some blogging and Craig had a short sleep.

We caught the Tube back to Victoria and headed to the Apollo Victoria Theatre where Wicked is currently showing. Wicked is a musical based on the book by Gregory Macguire about the witches of Oz (as in the Wizard of Oz) and is effectively a back story as seen from the Wicked Witch of the West’s perspective. The story was enjoyable but as a musical it didn’t really have any standout music except for the song Defy Gravity which leads into the intermission. I give it about a 6 out of 10.

After the show, we had a dinner across the road at the Duke of York pub before heading back to our hotel room for the night.

Monopoly places visited:

Pall Mall

Whitehall

Northumberland Avenue

The Strand

Trafalgar Square

Regent Street

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