While we were still in Thailand, we learned that our friends from California (Jeff and Catherine) would be in London around the same time as we would be in Ireland. Throughout our travels, they have remotely taken us out for Afternoon Tea all over the world. Since London is a 50 minute flight from Ireland, we decided that a short trip to meet up with our friends for proper English Afternoon Tea was a must!
Kieran and I have both been to London numerous times, so we decided to make this a quick trip as it is such an expensive city. Lucky for us, Kieran’s sister Marian lives in London and we got to stay in her lovely home while she and her family were on vacation in South Africa.
On August 4th, Kieran’s sister in law, Dawn, gave us a lift to Shannon Airport in Limerick as she was picking up her daughter who was flying in from New York (the Donnelly’s sure do like to travel!). We flew via Ryanair to Stansted Airport (right outside of London); although further away from center, it is much cheaper to fly in this way rather than to Heathrow Airport. We spent the next day and a half in London with a very busy schedule!
First, we went to Imperial War Museum and loved it! It is so packed with WWI, WWII, Holocaust and current war history, that you can spend days in there. The admission is free – as most museums in London tend to be!
This was not Kieran’s first trip to this museum . . . but a few years have gone by . . .
While Kieran spent most of his time on WWI and WWII, I spent the next two hours in the Holocaust section which is very well done and is only permitted for those over the age of 14; however, with parents permission, younger kids can visit this portion of the museum.
After so much heavy history, an ice cream stop in the museum’s garden was a must!
Afterwards we ran over to Leicester Square to buy some last minute discounted theater tickets. Some musicals and shows we knew well and some we never heard of. So, we decided to go with something new and bought half-off tickets to see Beautiful – The Carole King Musical.
We had about 1 hour to kill before the show, so we had the obligatory fish and chips right in Leicester Square!
Embarrassingly, I will admit that I had no idea who Carole King was, until I realized that I knew every single song in the musical! She started off as a composer and then later a song writer in the 60’s. She then started her own singing career in the late 70’s. The following songs may ring a bell for those who also don’t know who she is:
- You make me feel like a natural woman
- It’s too late
- I feel the earth move
- You’ve got a friend
- One fine day
And MANY more! It was an awesome show which I would highly recommend for everyone. It is currently playing on Broadway and at The West End.
The next day started with a cup of coffee and a very light breakfast as we knew that the Afternoon Tea was just around the corner!The day was spent just walking around Piccadilly Circus and other touristy areas until we got to the Dorchester Hotel. The Afternoon Tea is held at the Promenade of the hotel where we got to finally see some familiar faces from home (first time in 8 months)!
When we walked in, we surprised them by wearing the t-shirts that they made for us before we left (front reads: my friends miss me; back reads: www.beesgonewild.com) – we had to quickly remove them as we were dying of over-heating and completely embarrassing ourselves!
And since it was also their wedding anniversary a few days earlier, we made sure that they got a delicious little treat on top of all the treats we already ate!
We had an AWESOME time catching up with our friends and the food was fabulous as well! We were worried that our “backpacker” outfits wouldn’t suit the environment, but it turned out to be a much more casual and relaxed atmosphere than we had envisioned. If you are in London, give Dorchester a try or for a more intimate Afternoon Tea check out The Milestone Hotel (also recommended to us by Jeff and Cat a few years back).
After saying goodbye to our friends, we then decided to see another show. So, we ran back to Leicester square and bought another set of last minute tickets to see Jersey Boys. Although this musical wasn’t as good as Carole King’s, we still had a great time singing and dancing to familiar tunes!Of course, as luck would have it, there was a 24 hour tube strike, so we spent a very long time trying to get home by bus that evening and we weren’t sure how we would make it back to the airport as the tube wasn’t working and Taxi/Uber would cost us an arm and a leg.
The next morning, at 5:30am, we made our way to the London Overground and made it to Stansted Airport just in the nick of time! Overall, yet another great trip to London – I could totally live there!
Next stop, a few more weeks with Kieran’s family in Ireland!