London

My plan for my birthday was simple:
Go to a place where English was the main language, and see a piece of theatre I knew I would LOVE.

And so, my trip to go to London and see Gypsy with Imelda Staunton was set in motion.

Round trip for my RyanAir flight I paid ~20€.

With my great friends Tim and Nora, we started our day (after getting settled) with a walk from our AirBnB near the Tower Bridge, towards the West End.
Walking around we found ourselves on a bridge looking at faraway clouds and seeing them drop rain. How fascinating. I turned around and snapped this picture.


I was in love with the juxtaposition of the clouds.

Seconds later a torrential downpour began, followed by hail. We laughed, waited for the rain to get milder, and went for a walking tour, as I like to do in order to knock out all the important touristy sites.

Here's a photo of me with the Buckingham Palace.

We moved onto getting my most important birthday dinner: pizza.

Following pizza we had some time in the National Gallery. I was probably the most prepared to go to this museum, as many of the paintings studied in my art history class are housed there. I gasped so many times from recognizing paintings that a guard asked me if I was alright. A highlight was the Caravaggios, and getting to go up close to Botticelli paintings and describe why they're horrible.

Gypsy was a marvelous time. The production itself was fresh, stimulating, and highlighted why the musical is considered one of the best written of all time. Now, Staunton's performance was quite something. The deep deep emotional turmoil was like candy to enjoy. I live to see actresses like her.

Saturday

We all woke up late on Saturday, and spent time finding theatre to see that evening. Tim cooked us pasta, and all six of us had a family brunch. It felt so nice and adult. The group trekked through rain to one of the most important sites of the trip: Shakespeare's Globe.

On our way, we passed the original site of the Globe, and went into the Rose Theatre.
 It felt magical to walk into this space, even though it was mostly empty. An outdoor theatre originally designed to squeeze three thousand people. I thought a whole lot about how theatre has changed. Back then, you listened to a play, not watched, and you could leave when you felt, so there was a lot of repeated information. I did not know that Shakespeare wrote some later plays specifically for an indoor theatre, and therefore a wealthier more educated audience, meaning that the plays had more complicated language.

I then popped over to the Tate Modern Gallery, which was INCREDIBLE. One artist I LOVED, was Nam June Paik, and I realized I saw one of his pieces at the modern art museum in Amsterdam. I love museums.

Before splitting up for theatre, we all went for fish and chips!

After that, I went to see Miss Saigon. I went into the theatre knowing NOTHING about the show, except that there's a helicopter...and it takes place in Vietnam. The spectacle of it all was such a joy. Fierce belting, exhilarating choreography. As one of many raised on Les Miserables I enjoyed hearing the composer's style stretched and explored in a new setting.

Everyone but Tim and me had classes early on Monday so they left on Sunday, but Tim and I had an extra day to explore!

Sunday

Our day started with going to the Imperial War Museum. Their WWI exhibit was spectacular, and their exploration of the Holocaust was quite good. My history teacher told me this was the best war museum in the world, and it did not disappoint. It even had a tea room, so Tim and I had afternoon tea!

We made our way over to the West End and popped over to the Courtauld Gallery, which had marvelous impressionist artworks. An exhibit of Bridget Riley's paintings inspired by George Seurat was a highlight.

Theatre it seems in the UK takes Sundays off, the way American theatre usually takes Mondays off. I wished I had planned to see some true English Shakespeare, but that wasn't available. So Tim and I settled for an English farce. I had heard that The Play That Goes Wrong was funny, and wow it may have been one of the funniest plays I've ever seen (second only to One Man, Two Guvnors I'd say). It had surprises, calamity, and brilliant visual gags (check out this preview).

One observation about London: wow it's expensive. Everything, including the exchange rate, cost approximately twice what I thought it would be, expected it to be.

Though the city was wonderful. A place I could imagine myself living. A city I want to work in. I city I really want to see again.

Location: Kasteellaan 20, 5855 AE Well, Netherlands
• • •