Thursday night involved a trip to my beloved Stansted Airport. I say beloved with as much sarcasm I can muster because London Stansted is not remotely close to London at all. After an hour and a half bus ride (during which I felt the stirrings of a migraine- joy) I arrived at Victoria coach station. My hostel was thankfully in walking distance and I went to sleep right away, though the 4 loud Russian boys in the hallway shouting at 4 am did little to help.
|This water is still Scottish. It hasn't turned Irish yet,|
just so everyone knows
|Hey friends, remember these?|
Friday I journeyed outside city of London for the beginning of my "most dedicated phan" weekend, as I am going to call it. Why, you ask? Because the journey I took outside of London was a 5 hour coach ride to Plymouth, where the Phantom of the Opera UK tour was playing. Yes. 5 hours. I am that insane. In my defense, it's a different staging of the show so I obviously had to see it.
|Found my hostel!|
|HUNGER GAMES BUS!!|
After finding my hostel and wandering around a bit, I headed over to the theatre. I wasn't having a very good day. I was groggy from my motion sickness medicine (as usual) and for some reason every key/lock I had on this trip was really difficult and frustrating. Even I questioned why the hell I was in Plymouth, UK, until I got to the theatre. No matter how angry I am, the excitement of waiting for a performance of Phantom to start turns me into a giggling, giddy mess.
|Ferris wheel in Plymouth. Did not ride|
|New chandelier and stage/set design|
The performance was interesting, to say the least. It featured a wonderful cast, including one of my favorite Phantoms, John Owen-Jones (you may remember him from last semester when I saw it 7 times. 6/7 were him) and a few other actors I'd been keen to see. I'll be writing a review of the changes. but I will say that, while I did enjoy the show, there are some changes I'm not too sold on. Overall, it is a great experience and worth a visit. I'd like to see it in a while when it isn't quite so new and see what the actors have done with it when they have time to grow into the roles again.
Anyway. After stage dooring like normal and meeting Katie Hall (Christine) and JOJ again (missed Simon Bailey cause he walked out too fast with a group) I headed to bed. Fun fact: in the picture below, you see a man in the backgorund next to the car. Well, he was the driver of that car. Waiting for whom? Cameron Mackintosh, the producer of Phantom of the Opera, Les Mis, Cats and like 500 other major shows. I was standing like 2 feet away from him, but he was talking about important stuff and then hopped in and left. But still.
|With Katie Hall, a lovely Christine|
|I took notes. These are for just Act 2. Act 1 is on my phone|
but I ran out of space...
Bright and early the next day, I hopped back on a coach for another 5 hours and got back to London. Explored a bit (my knowledge of central london helped me avoid being late because of a severe delay on the Piccadily line- thankfully I knew what other lines to take to get to the same place) and I people-watched in Trafalgar Square. It's strange how different it is in a year. Things that were being built have been completed, construction has changed the landscape a bit, etc. The Famous 3 Kings pub near our flat was painted over again and there were a few new shops that changed the West Kensington I remembered. But how lovely it was to be back! I didn't even have to pay for the Tube, since someone at the station was leaving and gave me their day pass!
|It isn't a horrendous shade of pink anymore!|
|street performers in Trafalgar- guy in red was a ninja and|
they were breakdancing. Yup.
I didn't time my travel well enough to visit the ICLC or the old shop where I worked (they close early on Saturdays) but I did pop into my favorite place on the West End, Her Majesty's theatre. And this, my friends and family, is why this is the Dorkiest Weekend Ever. Not only did I travel hundreds of miles to be in London, but I traveled over 10 hours on a bus to see the new tour and return to London to see the original. Which. Was. Fantastic. I've never seen the show 2 days in a row before!
|Phantom swag from the 2 shows|
I was a bit afraid that the current Phantom, Earl Carpenter, wouldn't match JOJs standard (since his performance was fresh in my mind). Proof that Phantoms only get better with age, Earl, who like JOJ is reprising the role after a few years off, was amazing. I loved seeing Sofia Escobar again (cause she is the nicest person ever and an amazing Christine) and seeing a new Raoul, Killian Donnelly, was fantastic. Review of that coming later as well.
|He's on the list as one of the best/nicest Raouls ever|
After hanging out with some Americans and variuos foreign students I met at the hostel, I decided to turn in so I could be ready for my flight. t-minus 4 hours later I was up and huffing it to the train station. Gatwick is a nice airport and they are well organized, but I hate flying so I'm always anxious anyway. I was not pleased when the engine I was sitting near was making a strange whirring sound before takeoff, nor was I happy when the engine appeared to be smoking (this was probably just a jet stream but I'm jumpy). But I landed safely in Pisa and hopped on a train after helping a nice British man find his way. We had a lovely chat about travel and life and parted ways.
All in all, it was a great weekend. I miss London a lot, and would still jump at the chance to live there again, but it is lovely to be back in Siena, where I also feel quite at ease and happy. I'm going to take this week to relax, as the constant travel has made me a little run down. Totally worth it!