Last Day in London (Day Six)
Trip Start Aug 16, 2012
24Trip End Oct 01, 2012
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After spending the morning at the internet cafe near my hostel, I headed out to explore the western part of the city. I got the tube to the Portobello Road area and walked around trying to find Kensington Palace. I got a little lost and had to stop and ask for directions. I came across a nice Asian lady and thanks to her, I was quickly able to find the palace which is on the edge of Hyde Park.
There was not much to see at Kensington as much of it was fenced off from the public. The palace was formerly the residence of Queen Victoria as well as Princess Diana. I think I heard that Prince William and Kate are going to live there in the future too.
I then started walking around Hyde Park, which is huge! I spotted the Albert Memorial and Royal Albert Hall and walked some more until I found the Natural History Museum. Like most museums in London, it's free, but unfortunately I didn't enjoy it at all. I quickly left after getting stuck for a while in the dinosaur exhibit (which was terribly designed - I had to leave via an emergency exit). I decided to skip the Victoria and Albert Museum and try to find Harrod's instead.
Harrod's is a luxury department store and is a shoppers' paradise for those with expensive taste. I stumbled across a food area inside and picked up a veggie pasty and a chocolate croissant. I walked to Hyde Park again to eat and sat on one of the lawn chairs by the lake.
A couple minutes later, a park officer walks up to me and tells me I need to pay to sit there. I had some loose change in my pocket, and didn't feel like moving, so I paid him one pound fifty to sit for an hour. I shouldn't have been surprised though - London is an expensive city!
After stopping off in Covent Garden to check out the trendy shopping area, I went back to the hostel to get some rest. That night, I was going to see the only activity I booked in advance - Phantom of the Opera!
Phantom is a very beautiful show. The story is simple, yet elegant - although hard to follow at times. It's based on a book, but the plays have been much more popular. I think it's one of the longest running shows in London: celebrating it's 25th anniversary this year.
Phantom incorporates opera and ballet into a dark and twisted romance. It's style is very dramatic with little room for humour. The cast all did very well; standouts were the actress who played Christine (who has a very vocally demanding role) and, of course, the Phantom, who got a standing ovation at the end.
The special effects and staging were very well done and kept the audience engaged throughout the show, including the exciting end to Act One. I had a excellent view of the stage from the centre of the Grand Circle, though partially obstructed by the person in front of me.
I have yet to see a Webber play that I truly love (maybe his style's not for me), but I'm glad I got to see a show in London's West End. After the show, I walked to nearby Picadilly Circus and browsed some of the souvenir shops. It reminded me a lot of New York's Times Square in that sense. I didn't find anything worth buying so I went back to the hostel. Tomorrow, I would be leaving for Paris!