A Quick Check-In From London

Greetings, everyone. It’s just about 12:30 AM in London on a Sunday morning. We’re leaving in exactly 10 hours for Southampton where we’ll board Queen Mary 2 and I thought I’d give you a VERY quick check-in from our whirlwind day in London.

If you read my post from the other day, you’ll know that we had a fast and furious day here. Our flight landed Friday evening and it was non-stop since then.

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Our intrepid AAC CPA getting ready to fly

We got into our hotel room around 10:00 PM Friday evening and here’s a little look at our room. Quite nice.

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Premiere Room at the Shangri-La

And here’s what we saw when we awoke this morning:

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Good morning, St. Paul’s

After a lovely breakfast down at Ting Lounge, we were on the run. Off to the National Portrait Gallery to see the Audrey Hepburn Exhibit. While it wasn’t large, what was there was cherce. And we enjoyed it. And the place was filthy packed. I guess there are a lot of Hepburn fans out there. Us, too. She was a good woman.

From there, back to the Shangri-La for lunch with the aforesaid Lynne and Garry. It was so good to see them. We did have a bit of a kerfuffle at the restaurant, however. I must say that the hotel has some issues with service in the restaurants. Getting seated was a bit of an adventure, even with a reservation. And then we had the most leisurely lunch. Too leisurely, in fact. I mean, does it really take almost 2 hours for an appetizer and a burger? I mean it was wonderful visiting with good friends, but we were all getting a bit anxious about it all. We took it in stride but I may have to have a word with the manager before we leave, don’t you think?

Anyway, here are the lovely Garry and Lynne with our own AAC CPA:

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Garry, Lynne and AAC CPA

And check out Garry’s fashion statement:

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Garry is one stylish dude!!

Because lunch ran SO long, AAC CPA and I had to make a decision: nap or cocktails at the Corinthia. No chance to do both. For better (at least for our livers) or for worse, we opted for the nap. Good thing, too. We were out like lights!! Woke up in time to clean up and head out, over to the Duke of York’s Theatre.

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Duke of York’s Theatre

The theatre was packed, a hit in the making.

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A little unauthorized pre-show activity – shhhhh!

So, what did we think of the show? Enjoyed it – marvelous cast and production, didn’t really fulfill our expectations, and that’ll teach us to have expectations!! Actually, as AAC CPA says, sometimes you need to sleep on it and see how you feel the next day. We’ll get back to you on it.

Intermission was interesting, however – look at the entrance to the bar:

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Finding Neverland, anybody?I

Got out of the play and walked over to The Ivy – one of our favorite London establishments. We always feel so welcome there and the place has a great vibe.

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The Ivy, all gussied up on a Saturday nightI

And, here’s our own AAC CPA enjoying his evening out:

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AAC CPA after his 1st cocktail

And, so that was our day in London. Have to be up and out in the morning for our drive down to Southampton, where we’ll embark Queen Mary 2 bound for lil’ ‘ol New York.

Next time you hear from me, we’ll be somewhere on the Atlantic!

Good night, Mrs. Kalabash, wherever you are!!

Leavin’ On A Jet Plane

Greetings from a beautifully sunny Thursday morning in New York City.

Packing is well-underway and we’re now less than 24 hours from lift-off to London. We’ve checked in for our flight (isn’t it great how we can load our boarding passes into our mobiles? I just LOVE that.), and we’re taking care of this ‘n that. Have to be up at 5:00 AM tomorrow to get ourselves out to the airport. But it’s great to be able to take an AM flight to London so that we arrive in the evening, have a light dinner, hit the sheets and then hit the streets first thing on Saturday (our only day there, as it turns out).

Speaking of which, remember how I said that we’re going to be in London for only about 36 hours before motoring to Southampton to board Queen Mary 2? And that our “dance card” is full, as they say? I thought it might be interesting to share our London itinerary with you for Saturday. Here goes:

Following a lovely (and included) breakfast at the Shangri-La at the Shard (courtesy of AmEx FHR Program) here’s how our day unfolds:

11:00 AM – We’re off and running to the National Portrait Gallery to see the “Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon” exhibit. For those of you who might be able to make it, the exhibit is on until October 18th.

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CULTURE TIP:  Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon

After a leisurely stroll through the exhibit, we’re hoping to have time to drop by Anya Hindmarch (the bespoke store only a stone’s throw from Harrods), where we did some shopping last May. I needed a new travel portfolio (long story short: we got the referral from the Concierge at the Peninsula Hotel in Paris, and he was SO right), and got a beautiful one there. This store is amazing, even just to walk through to see their merchandise.

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AAC shops at Anya Hindmarch

SHOPPING TIP:  Anya Hindmarch

1:30 PM – Lunch back at the hotel – Ting – with our dear friends, Lynne & Garry. They are a lovely couple we’ve sailed with aboard the Crystal ships on several occasions. We have so much fun with them and it’s always a pleasure to be in their company.

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Ting at the Shangri-La

3:45 – Nap!!!!!! (Is there anything better than an afternoon nappy?)

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From last May aboard Crystal Serenity

6:30 – Pre-Theatre cocktails at the Corinthia. The Bassoon Bar there is a must. I mentioned the other day that we’ve stayed at that property several times over the past few years. The hotel is perfectly placed: just 5 minutes from Trafalgar Square and the Strand and, in just a few minutes more, you’re on the West End. The bar is very snazzy. Last time we were there, the manager (who always makes sure we have a really good time), waltzed over to our table, and said (in a very low tone of voice): “Don’t look, but to your left – – – – – OPRAH!” And indeed, there she was.

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The Bassoon Bar at the Corinthia

TRAVEL TIP: Bassoon Bar at the Corinthia

7:30 PM – Farinelli and the King, now in previews at the Duke of York’s Theatre. This is the West End engagement of a production which started at Shakespeare’s Globe and stars Mark Rylance as King Philip V of Spain. Mark Rylance is such a sensation that tickets to this production are impossible to obtain. I tried for months before getting lucky. (Persistance pays off.) This play is a cinch to transfer to Broadway, so keep an eye out for it.

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Mark Rylance in Farinelli and the King

CULTURE TIP:  Farinelli and the King

10:15 PM – Post supper at The Ivy. Who doesn’t love the Ivy, I ask? It’s been around for over 30 years and never fails to impress. The place closed down earlier this year for a complete renovation and we were there last Spring for its soft opening. The place is gorgeous, the service impeccable, and the food delicious, whether you’re enjoying a burger, a steak, or fish ‘n chips. I’d say it’s the go-to place in London for your post-theatre supper. And you never know who’s going to turn up. We’ll never forget the night many years ago when Princess Margaret was two tables away and having a “really good time”. Then there’s the time in 2012 when AAC CPA and I were shown to our table, and who turned up at the next table but the cast of Sweeney Todd, which we’d just seen. The Ivy is a place you should try at least once.

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AAC enjoys his fish and chips at the Ivy

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The Ivy refurbished and renewed

FOOD TIP:  The Ivy

And that’s our planned whirlwind day in London on Saturday. I figured that I should post it now as I may not have time when we’re actually there and doing it.

Bon voyage to us?