Today is a legal holiday so things are still closed sporadically. More importantly, all shops are filled to the gills. Last year, to help the economy, the VAT tax was lowered from 17.5% down to something lower (maybe 12% or 15%) and on 12-31-09 they are returning to its former level. The weather is beautiful, though we woke up to 0º (32F) before it warmed up to 5º — very sunny and a light breeze so it felt warmer.
We started by finishing the Oxford Street walk, figuring that we would do the museums on days which have bad weather. In fact, tomorrow the weather is supposed to turn ugly from tomorrow on. We went to the Photographer’s Gallery which was still closed but now there was a sign indicating its new opening times, so we’ll try yet again later. We then walked down Regent Street towards Piccadilly Circus, seeing a National Geographic store that was due to open later in the day. It looked pretty cool.
We came back to drop off some minor purchases then left almost immediately, to try to get on the Eye on the last nice day of the trip. The queues were hours long so instead we walked along the Embankment, across the bridge to Charring Cross, and through to Trafalgar Square. From there, we went through Leicester Square, through Piccadilly and back up Regent to the National Geographic store. It’s pretty cool, too. They have three floors. The top floor is ‘designer’ clothing, furniture, knick-knacks, travel guides, many photos om display, and a video screening lounge. The ground floor has a coffee shop, some toys, a selection of maps on display, games, and whatnot. The basement has tons of professional clothing and optics for real explorers. We’re talking £500 jackets suitable for Polar expeditions, high-quality optic items, and whatnot. They also have a polar freezer where you can go in and get real experiences with Polar temperatures and winds. (See this article from last year)
After a rest, we went off to Porter’s for dinner. I met my friend Jan who flew over from Germany to spend today and tomorrow with us, and he introduced us to Anna who’s very nice. I liked her very much. It was great to see Jan again. He asked about quite a few of you back home.
Porter’s (Covent Garden) was recommended to us by the Pirate Radio guy (see previous post). The menu looked good, the restaurant looked good. Everything should have been good. Only the food really sucked and this was the third* worst meal I’ve ever had in London. Karen disliked hers too. To be fair, Jan and Anna liked their food and it looked way better than ours. So did the food at the other tables. Maybe we were just unlucky, but I shan’t give it another chance. I ate less than half. The meat was gristly as all hell, the Yorkshire pudding was repulsive and soggy, and the chips were cold and flavourless. How do you screw up chips? I am being serious in saying that if given the choice to eat what I was served here or the dog I was unwittingly served in Taichung, I’d go with the dog without hesitation.
We had to end promptly at 630 to head to the theatre to collect our will-call tickets. Today’s show was We Will Rock You. A few changes since I’ve last seen it, most for the better. It’s still a three-hour play (start to end, interval included) which was a good hour longer than the Vegas version and rivalled only by Les Misérables in length. I enjoyed the music, the lady who played Scaramouche was absolutely fantastic and had an awesome voice. And she was the understudy. Galileo was weaker, and Killer Queen disappointed as she didn’t have the range of the lady I saw last time. KQ should be a fat bottomed girl (song title, sorry) and this lady reminded me of Cher. Not that it’s bad but she was just miscast. I have no fault with her except she was wrong for the part. Did I mention Scaramouche had the best voice I’ve heard in ages.
We took the tube back to the hotel arriving near half past eleven and begged some ice for Karen’s knee which is growing considerably worse. I’m encouraging her to seek medical attention for it, but she’s refusing. It’s not looking good at all. I hope she feels better tomorrow especially since the weather’s expected to turn shite, and that rain will make it worse. (Doctor Eric suspects she has a torn meniscus and that her doctor hasn’t properly diagnosed her. Having had one myself, I recognize all the symptoms.)
I am amused that all the local stations are doing decade-end specials. I’ve referred this decade as the “aughts” as have many, but here they’re calling them the “noughties” and I find that tres
*Second worst was the Italian restaurant from 6 or so years ago near Angel tube, and the worst was the chip shop on my very first trip near Victoria tube. In fact, that chip shop may have been one of the five worst meals I’ve had anywhere on the planet. Seriously. That’s some scary shit. (Sea Cucumber wins as the worst meal I’ve ever tried to eat.) See previous blog posts as I shan’t go over it here.