Tuesday, November 17, 2009

London: Day 1

As I mentioned before, we arrived in London yesterday just a little before noon. I wasn't able to sleep much on the plane but since it was only a 9 hour flight I didn't feel too bad. We took a car to our hotel, the lovely and very charming Edgerton House. We had stayed here during our honeymoon and as we stepped into the lobby it almost felt as if we had gone back in time and were still honeymooning.

They didn't have our room quite ready for us yet (it was just around noon which is their check out time so that wasn't surprising). They said it would be ready in about a half hour so we decided to take a stroll down  Knightsbridge, the closest big street just around the corner from the Edgerton House. As we walked, I was amazed by all of the holiday decorations festooning the charming brick buildings. It is so festive and I have now been convinced that the Christmas season is the best time to visit London. (It may have helped that there hasn't been a drop of rain since we arrived.)

When we got back to the hotel our room was ready and it was quite something to see! The hallway outside our room:

As you turn your old fashioned key in the lock, you open the door to reveal a tiny little entryway leading to a second door.

Behind that door is the rest of the room:

The strong blue striped fabric wall coverings give the room the feeling of a carnival which is heightened by the one large painting on the wall:

Continuing around the room:

And we must not forget the blue chandelier:

Or the blue patterned carpet (sorry the photo is a little blurry):

After marveling at our amazing surroundings, I took a nap until it was time to get dressed for dinner and the ballet. We followed the recommendation of our driver from the Airport and had dinner at a lovely French restaurant on a little dead end alleyway called La Petit Maison.

Since it was around 6pm, just after they had opened, we were only the second group seated. The large well lit room was filled with tables but it still managed to feel very open and spacious. Each table was adorned with two ripe tomatoes and a lemon. Our waitress welcomed us and told us about the restaurant's tradition of family style dining. You select a variety of dishes from the menu and they all come in large servings that can be shared around the table. After perusing the many options, we selected a dinner menu of:
 Buratta with Fresh Camone Tomato Relish
Gnocchi with Cherry Tomatoes, Garlic and Parmesan
Turbot with Artichokes, Chorizo, White Wine and Olive Oil
Green Beans
Vanilla Creme Brulee

At the end of the meal we decided that the first and last courses had been the best. The buratta was simply divine! It was by far the best caprese-like salad I have ever had, mostly due to the fantastic cheese the just seemed to melt away in delicious creaminess. The green beans were also fantastic! I joked with Woodley that I now have new heights to aspire to in green bean cooking!

Although all the dishes were family style we were still a bit surprised when the creme brulee arrived. It was a large dish with plenty of delicious custard to fill 3 or 4 hungry diners. For some reason we both had expected something much smaller. However, we dug in with gusto and were not disappointed! As we finished up our meal we sighed contentedly and then glanced nervously at our watches. It was 7:10 and the ballet started at 7:30.

We hurried outside and waited anxiously for the cab that we had asked the hostess to call for us. Although they assured us that it would arrive in less than 5 minutes, it didn't show up until 7:17. We hopped in and our cab driver sped us through all sorts of cute narrow alleys as he tried to avoid traffic and get us to the ballet on time. Although I was worried that we would miss the opening of the show I tried to relax and enjoy the glittery panorama of festive shop windows and holiday lights that flashed by outside the window of the cab.

After what seemed like ages, we arrived at The Royal Opera House and rushed inside. The head usher showed us where to retrieve our tickets at will call and told us to return and see her once we had picked them up. Although we had indeed missed the opening, she told us she thought she could find a place for us to see the rest of the first act. As we had been really looking forward to the show and the tickets were quite expensive, we were both a bit upset. We rushed off to get the tickets and when we returned she looked at our tickets and then consulted her map of the house. Anxiously we waited and watched as she gave directions to one of the other ushers standing near by. The friendly new usher asked us to follow her and we began winding through the hallways of Covent Garden. We went up flights of stairs, through narrow hallways and eventually arrived at a tiny corridor that appeared to be made entirely of wood and which was completely dark. She motioned for us to be quiet and we followed her down the dark hallway. After trying several doors, she managed to find the one she was looking for and motioned for us to enter.

As we stepped through the narrow wooden doorway we were surprised and thrilled to see that we had been guided to a private box on the grand tier very close to the right side of the stage. Although we couldn't see the full width of the stage, we could see almost everything and the dancers seemed almost close enough to touch. After watching old movies, I had always dreamed of sitting in a private box, but I never dreamed that I ever would! And in Covent Garden no less! Soon however, we were lost in the music of Tchaikovsky and the glitter of the costumes!

At the first intermission we moved around and located our actual seats which were also on the grand tier but were opposite the center of the stage. We had a better view of the entire stage but were not farther away and no longer in a private box. As I glanced back at our first Act seats, Woodley pointed out to me what must be the Royal Box, it was right next to the box we had been in!

The rest of the ballet was lovely but, by the end, we were very happy to get back to the hotel and fall into our blue bed!


No comments:

Post a Comment