Wednesday, August 02, 2006

London In July: Day 2 of 3

Note: The entire day is summarised at the end with just the highlights. These might get long.

Saturday started early. A quick shower to freshen up and then a beautiful walk into London's centre. We passed Buckingham Palace, through a gorgeous park, stopped to enjoy an almost pigeon-free Trafalgar Square and reached Leister Square around 12. We hung out in China town for a bit and had a snack in a delicious Japanese place called Samurai Sushi. We picked up the tickets for Avenue Q from the theatre before we split up the group a bit. Claire had organised to meet with a huge group of people she games with on World of Warcraft, so we dropped her off at the pub she was looking for before the rest of us started into a busy day.

Karen, Jp and I immediately headed in the direction of the London Eye, an attraction all of us were interested in doing, except Claire who is nervous about heights, so this was a great time to do it. Along the path to the Eye we saw a bunch of Living Statues, so we took our time. They were great to see, with some looking better than others, but all entertaining. There was a tin man that offered a cup of imaginary tea when I gave him some change and this incredible bronze looking statue that had us debating the state of his eyes. I still say they were closed and painted to look open.

We got to the Eye around 1:30 and the queue was just crazy. In fact, there was a queue to get tickets that allowed you to join the queue that was queueing to get into the queue to get on the Eye! Too complex for us, so we decided to come back early on Sunday. While walking around I saw loads of Stormbreaker posters and banners everywhere, as the Eye features in the big finale. Since then, I've really, really wanted to see the movie. Probably go see it this weekend.

With the Eye now relegated to Sunday morning, we headed off to the British Museum and spent some time educating ourselves. The central reading room was our first stop just inside the main door. It was awe-inspiring to see, and while the rest of the museum proved to be full of the hustle and bustle of tourists and scholars discussing the artifacts on show, this area was refreshingly peaceful. Continuing into the rest of the museum we got to see the Rosstta Stone, something I've wanted to see for years but never realised it was kept so close. Other highlights included the rather creepy mummy exhibit and a cool Japanese and Asian cultures exhibit, though the majority of the Japanese section had yet to open.

After spending a few hours in the museum our group split again. Karen continued on to the British Library to oogle some more old books while Jp and I headed to our own library, the Forbidden Planet comic store. Thankfully, we didn't spend to much in there.

Karen met us outside Forbidden Planet and the three of us headed back to China town to pick up Claire. We all got a great meal in a nearby Chinese restaurant (what else!) before going down to the Noel Coward Theatre for the show.

Avenue Q is the first show in the theatre since its refurbishment. The theatre was amazing, with comfortable seating and great air-conditioning. The lighting, sound and effects throughout the performance were great. The only thing about it was there was no legroom what-so-ever, thought that's probably mainly because we got the cheapest seats in the house! Whatever. We didn't mind, or even notice once the show started. Because we booked so far in advance we got the best seats in our section, front row, dead centre.

The show was astounding. Better than I ever could have expected. It was funnier than all heck, and the performers were simply amazing. The voices for the puppets were very close to the ones I heard months ago on the original cast recordings, even though these were a different set of performers entirely. The effects were superb and unexpected. As this was my first taste of any theatre on this scale, I was blown away by some of the pieces. The giant head of Kate Monster looming over the building was inspired and had me rolling with laughter. The TVs showing Sesame Street style animations were ingenious and a great touch.

There isn't much more I want to say about the show. I'm not going to describe any of it, as this is definitely something you have to see for yourself. It is incredible. I want to go see it again before it leaves the theatre, but I doubt I'll get the chance. I picked up a "I'm not wearing underwear today" t-shirt which has become my prized possession for a while. Ironically, I also picked up a pair of boxers that say "I can make you feel special", another Avenue Q quote.

Despite all the other cool stuff we did in London this still stands as the unparalleled highlight of the weekend. Heck, this stands as possibly the highlight of my year! I still get emotional thinking about it, especially the fact that I may never get to see it again.

After the show we just went back to the hotel and crashed. Saturday had been a busy day and we wanted to get going extra early to cram everything we could into our last day in London.

In Brief:
Walked into city centre. Claire went to meet WOW friends. Karen, Jp and me went to British Museum. Karen went on to British Library while we went to Forbidden Planet. Met up again to get food. Saw amazing, incredible, stunning and awesome Avenue Q. Collapse into bed once back in hotel.

Read London In July: Day 1 of 3
Read London In July: Day 3 of 3

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