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My date with Benny, Björn, Agnetha & Frida

My date with Benny, Björn, Agnetha & Frida

Old Dec 6th, 2022, 07:18 PM
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My date with Benny, Björn, Agnetha & Frida

Got back laaaaate Sunday from a lightening four night London visit for my annual birthday celebration. Likely won't get to work on the TR before Fri or Sat but just a few of the highlights:

Come From Away

African Fashion and Hallyu! The Korean Wave at the V&A

• GTG w/ kmowatt at the F&M Wine Bar

Awesome tasting menu lunch at Seven Park Place by William Drabble

• Cezanne and Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirror Rooms plus post exhibition dinner in the Tate Kitchen & Bar (let me tell you, wandering around a closed Tate Modern late at night is one spooooooky experience)

• ABBA concert (yes, really ) - and it was amazing
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Old Dec 7th, 2022, 12:48 AM
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on for the...
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Old Dec 7th, 2022, 02:31 AM
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LOVED the Abba concert, saw it twice. Great fun.
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Old Dec 7th, 2022, 04:51 AM
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Love Abba. Went to Stockholm basically to go to the Abba
museum.

can’t wait to hear which hotel this time. My last London trip was Sept 2017. I want to go again but feel I should get to other places on list
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Old Dec 7th, 2022, 05:05 AM
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Also how did you get to the venue? (Abba Voyage?)
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Old Dec 7th, 2022, 05:22 AM
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Sounds like a grand way to celebrate! Happy Birthday! Looking forward to the details.
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Old Dec 7th, 2022, 10:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Vicky View Post
Also how did you get to the venue? (Abba Voyage?)
Easy; underground to Stratford and one stop on the DLR to Pudding Mill Lane, which is next to the venue.
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Old Dec 7th, 2022, 11:31 AM
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As Tulips says, take Jubilee Line to Stratford and then on to Pudding Lane on the DLR.

I stayed the night at the Hyatt in Westfield Shopping center which is right at the Stratford station so just walked over to the arena and back - about 15 minutes.
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Old Dec 8th, 2022, 02:51 PM
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sounds great. and happy belated birthday. Looking forward to reading more.
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Old Dec 8th, 2022, 03:38 PM
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I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do want to hear about your experience at Abba Voyage. Did it go On and On and On to the point where you had to send out an S.O.S? I bet it cost lots of Money, Money Money. Mama Mia, I can hardly wait for your report.
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Old Dec 8th, 2022, 06:15 PM
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Can't compete with Tom's post, but yes, I'm eager to read all about your trip.
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Old Dec 9th, 2022, 10:57 PM
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Phew - what a week! Not talking about last week in London but this week back home. Everything taken care of so now finally starting the TR.

London trip that almost didn't happen . . .

Tues/Wed Nov 29-30 SMF to London and Come from Away:

The main catalyst for this thrip - besides spending my B'day in London - was the ABBA concert. I had followed the development of both the technology of the show and arena out in Stratford (East London - NOT upon-Avon ). Couldn't decide if it sounded amazing or cheesy or totally awful. And then early last summer the reviews started and it was getting 4 and 5 star reviews in all the UK press whether schlocky tabloids or the Guardian/Times/Telegraph . . . and was selling out for weeks and months in advance. As a lark, in mid June I booked a really good seat for the day after my birthday but didn't make any other plans/decisions. If the trip didn't happen I'd just have the one event to 'eat'.

But first I had my July London trip ( *TR here Perfect week in London ) plus a few short getaways to organize this Fall. In October, a weekend in Tacoma for Elton John concert - TR Tacoma - Farewell Yellow Brick Road which was followed by a couple of days at North Lake Tahoe. And finally two days in NYC in mid-November.

All this meant I didn't get serious about planning London until late August. I've been spoiled and 'need' to fly in the pointy end of the plane at least for the overnight leg. Had a bit of flexibility re dates - the only musts were to arrive in London by Dec 1 at the latest to hopefully recover from jet lag/etc by Dec 2 (birthday) and Dec 3 (ABBA). Decided I really only needed 4 or 5 days on the ground and started searching flights - and OMG OMG OMG!!!! SMF > LAX or DFW or just about anyplace > LHR and return, departing Nov 29 and returning Dec 4 the CHEAPEST AA/BA/One World Business class ticket - which was a crap schedule with early AM flights and multiple connections (DFW and CLT one way and JFK and CLT the other) was $8,230.00 -- yes eight+ bloody thousand dollars!!! Uh no - Hell no. Changing to Business east bound and Coach return brought it way down -- to $6100+. Gee, thanks - that really helps Not going to happen - but so far my only actual 'sunk cost' was ABBA.

Not giving up, I again turned to AAVacations. Victory! I got an almost perfect all Business Class itinerary. No 0'dark-thirty wake up calls or 6 AM arrival.

Afternoon flight SMF > LAX. 4 hours on the ground at LAX - which was enough time to visit both the Flagship Lounge in T-4 and the One World Lounge in TBIT with champagne flowing freely. Then 6 PM LAX > LHR arriving in London @ a civilized 12:30PM. Return 2:30PM out of LHR arriving LAX at 4PM Then the only bad leg -- LAX > SMF which didn't depart til nearly 10 PM . . . Booked with three nights at the 5 star St James's Hotel and Club included . . . $4190 all in! So basically flights + better schedule + a great hotel for half the cost of just flights + nasty schedule. Still a LOT of $$$ but it 'felt' like a real bargain.

Perfect flights, good food on board, and I managed a full 6 hours sleep on LAX > LHR - they had to wake me up for breakfast over Ireland. Being in Business gave me fast track immigration and traveling hand-luggage-only meant from gate to exiting Customs took less than 15 minutes. First trip in memory where I really experienced no jet lag at all. Topped up my OysterCard at LHR, and took the Piccadilly Line to Green Park, and walked to the hotel which is just around the corner from the Ritz/Wolseley.

Lovely room with luxury bed linens, a sort of trapezoid shaped couch in a corner/bay window, chandelier, beautiful black marble bathroom. (Photos maybe tomorrow - haven't yet downloaded them from my phone)

Fully unpacked, it was still only mid-afternoon and I wasn't tired at all. Hadn't made any plans for this evening so went downstairs for a cocktail in the hotel bar, then out for a walk down Piccadilly with no particular destination in mind. Wandered in to Hatchards and Waterstones and eventually ended up in Leicester Sq. Thought about going on to Trafalgar Sq but the tree wouldn't be lit until the next evening so not being tired took a peek at TKTS (I never EVER book theatre on arrival day cuz I'm usually nodding of just about Act 2 curtain. actually fell asleep when sitting in the front row stalls about 12 feet from Maggie Smith in The Lady in the Van). The two shows I thought I might manage were Jersey Boys (lively/music) and Come from Away (One act/no interval to fall asleep /only 100 min running time). So I asked the TKTS agent to run both houses and check which one had the best available single seat. Come from Away -- second row center dress circle - £39.50 -- winner! Its at the Phoenix Theatre up Charing Cross road so definitely walkable - but now it's nearly 6:30 and what to do about dinner??

Popped into a couple of the touristy Italian joints in pedestrian Irving Street but even they were full up. Wandered up St Martin's Lane, tried everything from Brown's, the wine bar next to the Ivy, Five Guys -- nada, I knew if all else failed there is a huge McDonalds at Charing Cross and Shaftsbury -- but it had a queue out the door! On a little side street almost to the theatre spotted a fast food place that said something about 'From Germany' so I figured brats/beer/sauerkraut/stuff. But no it was a weird sort of middle eastern vegetarian place with kebabs, veggie burgers, curried chips, odd sodas. My veggie burger, chips with curry and yogurt sauces and fizzy water cost a total of £3.97 - so you can maybe figure the taste sensation

Fueled up, I walked around the corner to the theatre and ordered a glass of champagne (which cost 3X my dinner ) and found my seat. I had always avoided seeing Come from Away because I thought it might be too emotional and hard to enjoy a subject that hit close to home (having lost 2 acquaintances 9/11- not at all close friends so nothing like how many others suffered, and a distant relative's son was actually diverted to Gander). Well it was WONDERFUL. Funny and sad and ingenious staging. The entire company was brilliant . . . and I didn't fall asleep LOL.

It was a cold but clear night so I walked the mile-ish back to the hotel, - fourth straight trip to London where my umbrella was never opened. Popped into the hotel bar and had a (decaf) espresso martini -- a cocktail and dessert rolled into one.

Went up and enjoyed a looooong bubble bath and slept like a baby.

Next: Thurs. Dec 1, V&A, GTG with kmowatt @ F&M's Wine Bar, Shopping,

Last edited by janisj; Dec 9th, 2022 at 11:16 PM.
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Old Dec 9th, 2022, 11:18 PM
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Got a weird error message so just testing . . .
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Old Dec 10th, 2022, 04:23 AM
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Read the reviews. I want desperately to go... also see Mamma Mia for the third time (all in London) because it was so joyous. I haven’t felt joy in Three years (since the pandemic).
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Old Dec 10th, 2022, 12:30 PM
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Great arrival day, JJ, and i felt the same about Come from Away until I saw it on Broadway. Just wept all the way through.

Looking forward to more!
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Old Dec 10th, 2022, 07:12 PM
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Slow getting organized but here are a couple of photos of my St James's Hotel room













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Old Dec 11th, 2022, 09:40 AM
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Meant to include - I was booked into a "Superior" room which is the cheapest/smallest/bottom of the barrel class of room in the hotel. I was on a breakfast included rate -- and curious I checked just to see what they were charging over my stay . . . £589 per night. £1767 for the three nights. ($2160 US) So booked w/o the AA vacation the cost of flights+hotel would have run Ten Thousand Three Hundred Ninety USofA Dollars!!!!

Which is silly because no one would probably book that . . . Not if they had any sense anyway

I could have gone quite a bit cheaper down to around $3000-ish If I'd picked a 3 star hotel. Some of the nicer 4 stars . . . Royal Horseguards, Waldorf Hilton, Millennium etc would have been around the mid to high $3k's
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Old Dec 12th, 2022, 07:11 AM
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I spent a week in London in October. I wished I had gone to ABBA (woulda, shoulda, what's wrong with me kind of thing). I had been in London in 2018 and seen the ABBA Super Trouper The Exhibition at the Southwark Centre and it was fun and fabulous. A dream is to get to Sweden to see the museum. I saw Come From Away in Chicago and like you, enjoyed it way more than I expected. While in London in October we saw Back to the Future the Musical at the Adelphi Theatre which was fabulous and fun and apparently coming to the U.S. in June 2023. Again more than I expected. London theatre is very fun.

But back to your trip. How very fun for you, you know the best things to do and see in that fabulous city. I've been to London 4 times now, and love it more each time. Happy Birthday, so glad you got the airfare and room rate you did. We stayed at the Mayfair so were in that same neighborhood. Your room looks nice, love the couch and bay window. And 6 hours of sleep on a plane!! That's amazing. Will be enjoying the rest of your posts.
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Old Dec 12th, 2022, 06:59 PM
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Thurs. Dec 1, V&A, GTG with kmowatt @ F&M's Wine Bar, Shopping:

Left most of today free for 'impromptu' decisions -- the only firm plan was a GTG with kmowatt and possibly flanneruk at 4PM. In the end things got complicated in Cotswolds-ville and flanner was unable to join us..

Anyway, slept in a bit - the bed was really comfortable, the linens were sumptuous and there soft and firm pillows. Was up and dressed by about 9:30 . . . no jet lag at all!!! and went down to breakfast. A substantial buffet spread was included with my room, plus you can pay extra for certain cooked items. So I had lots from the buffet plus paid for soft boiled eggs.

Decided to head to the v&A which is running two exhibitions that sounded intriguing - Africa Fashion, and Hallyu! The Korean Wave. (Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature was also running but I saw that back in July). Being a V&A member there's no need to pre-book/pay so if they turn out to be duds nothing is lost but a bit of time. Took the tube to S. Kens, popped into a chemist in the tube station to pick up a couple of toiletries that seem to have jumped out of my carry-on.

This year's Christmas 'tree' is more like an enormous wedding dress. It is gorgeous, but not particularly Christmasy (it was designed by one of the Korean designers from Hallyu!) -- but they call it a Christmas tree so That's what it is.





V&A "Christmas Tree"



Since the GTG was late afternoon and would be sort of late lunch/early dinner, I decided to have a light bite in the Members room before visiting the exhibitions. Had a really tasty carrot and coriander soup/rustic bread, glass of bubbles, and pot of tea.



V&A Members Room

Then went down to the African fashion exhibit. This was really fascinating and more interesting than I probably expected. The downstairs (about 2/3 of the show) covers the development of textiles and fashion throughout the African continent from about the early 50's through the end of the century. Things like formal wear, 1960's mini dresses and mod suits in traditional fabrics for the European trade, and traditional garments. Then upstairs on the mezzanine it was couture designs by current designers. I'll post some photos later . . .

Then I went to Hallyu! The Korean Wave - which was crazy -- in a good way. But it was also a bit overwhelming with all the video screens, music and such. It depicted everything from post-Korean War industrialization to fashion, beauty products, cartoons, K-pop and Gangnam. I only spent maybe 40-45 minutes in the exhibition.

By now it was nearly 3:30 so I headed to the Fortnum & Mason Wine Bar to meet up with kmowatt. We tasted a few wines -- I had to have some champagne of course - And shared Welsh rarebit, olives and a large charcuterie board. It was great fun. kmowatt needed to leave about 6:30 to meet up with Mrs. kmowatt for an evening event and I went upstairs to do a bit of shopping. F&M has made a lot of changes --the entire mens department tat used to have such wonderful gifts, small leathers, etc -- is gone. pffft. The jewelry department is now massive - almost a whole floor. There were various vendors on site - jewelers, perfumers, etc to answer questions (and sell sell sell). I bought some lovely perfume 'brewed' in Bourton-on-the-Water for a small London based perfumery, and a couple of 'costume' bracelets -- vermeil and Halcyon Days bangles.

Didn't really visit the food halls (walked through them but they were jam packed. And forgot to hit the Christmas shop.

Walked back to the hotel and had a single malt in the bar before going up to my room for my second looooong bubble bath of the trip

Next: Michelin star birthday lunch, Tate Modern exhibitions & dinner and getting lost in an empty museum
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Old Dec 12th, 2022, 07:01 PM
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OMG -- just posted a loooooong entry including photos, didn't get the dreaded 'moderation' error message . . . but it doesn't display.
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