Gahhhh, it’s my last day! In fact, it’s the end of my last day as I’m starting this post from my room, looking at my packed bag. I definitely won’t finish the post until tomorrow, so I may already be home by the time you read this. While it’s always sad to see any trip end, especially a London trip, I’m certainly looking forward to being home with Scott again. And if I never came home from a London trip, how could I start planning to return? 🙂
As last days go, I’d rank this one pretty high…minus the weather. And again, it still wasn’t bad! It started nice and sunny, but started turning grey and a bit rainy around noon. It still didn’t rain a whole lot, so I’m not complaining! I’ve had entire trips here with weather worse than today’s, so I’m super thankful today was as “bad” as it got. With a city like London (and really the UK in general, among other places), you just have to roll with whatever the weather throws at you (living in Minnesota, we’re very used to that, but with snow instead of rain).
Knowing I wouldn’t be around to pack this evening, I spent time this morning doing it after I got up. It’s never a long process with me, especially when I’m traveling alone, but I like to have everything packed up so I don’t have to scramble the day I’m leaving. Although I had planned stuff to do today, it was all in the afternoon/evening, so I figured I would do some walking around (shocker) to see some new places. The first wasn’t new, but is one I always like to at least walk through on each trip – Covent Garden. In particular on this trip, I was hoping to see Christmas decorations out, since I’m a big fan of Christmas. I know it’s still a bit early for that, but luck was on my side as there were indeed decorations out, though it seemed like the process was ongoing (again, not surprising given the fact it’s barely mid-November). It was still sunny at this point, so it was nice to stroll around, snap some photos, look at some of the goodies for sale, and even hear a little singing from a performer (there are always performers in Covent Garden!).
My next stop was a new one for me and I knew it would be a quick one, though it ended up being slightly longer than I anticipated (and also more frustrating). This destination was Little Venice, a neighborhood famous for its large, white houses and boats along the small canal in the area. The frustrating thing was that I couldn’t find the dang canal! I don’t know if I was totally blind to it or not, but Google Maps wasn’t helping and it was getting drizzly and windy, which just annoyed me. I’m sure I looked like a TOTAL tourist to anyone who saw me circle the area more than once to try and find it, but hey ho – it wasn’t meant to be. I still got to see the neighborhood, take a couple of photos, and travel through Warwick Avenue Station, which was a new one for me (and it made me keep thinking of Duffy’s song, Warwick Avenue). I must say that I do still want to go back and visit the canal one day, so if you know where it is, leave a comment and let me know (especially if you can make me feel better by telling me how easy it is to not find the canal)!
Right, first batch of photos comin’ at ya.
This nice tree just got set up around the corner from my hotel.
Lots of decorations at this place in Covent Garden!
See, still lots of sun for this photo.
Outside the London Transport Museum, which I didn’t visit on this trip, but I highly recommend it.
Lots of colors in this one. Love it!
I had to get one photo with with Warwick Avenue street sign.
(For those who are interested, I’m now writing from the Virgin lounge while I wait to board my flight home.)
After my slight failure with the canal, I headed back to hotel to put my feet up for just a bit as the timing was a little early for my next destination, The Cinema Museum. I’d never heard of this place before (again, thanks Google), but being a movie-lover, this one seemed like a no-brainer! While it’s a very active place in terms of screenings, their website makes it clear that you can only visit the museum as part of a tour, the dates of which are random. And of course, when I looked at the schedule on Monday morning, I saw that a tour had just started 20 minutes earlier and that there wouldn’t be another one until later in November. D’oh! Being a plucky sort of fellow though, I emailed them from their site and asked if they may have another tour available later on Monday or sometime on Tuesday. I honestly didn’t think there would be (I didn’t think I’d even hear back right away), so imagine my surprise when I not only got an email back, but the nice man behind the email (Martin) said I could come by around 2p on Tuesday as that would be between two screenings they already had planned. How cool! I went along (very easy to get to as there’s a tube station about ten minutes away) and Martin met me at the door and told me where to go to see the museum. There honestly isn’t a lot to it – the long entrance hallway/foyer and then an upstairs hallway and screening space. There were some side rooms that seemed to also be part of the museum based on the signs on the doors, but they weren’t open when I was there. Even though it’s not that big, the available space is full of old signs, marquees, cameras, uniforms, memorabilia, and other cinema bric-a-brac. A really cool space! I spent 10-15 minutes talking to Martin about it – he said he’s been saving/collecting/accepting (as donations) stuff for years, with his collecting starting in earnest in the late 70s/early 80s. I asked him if the museum building used to house a cinema, but he said it had actually been a workhouse for 1,400+ people once upon a time (though the building that stands today is just part of what used to be a workhouse complex). I also asked about screenings, since I saw not one, but two screening spaces, and he said they have them often. I saw fliers for film festivals, silent movie screenings, film noir stuff, and more. It seems like a really active space, though I’m sure it’s for a pretty small group of people. Still, I would love to go back and watch something there on a future trip. If you enjoy cinema, especially old/silent films, at all, this should be a must-visit! Tickets are only £10/$12 USD each, though when I asked Martin how to pay him for the ticket for my individual tour, he just asked me to put something in one of their donation boxes. So I put in £10 – worth it!
If this was a silent film, the intertitle card would say “Show me the photos, see!”
(If you’re still interested in my location, I’m now writing this from home, back in Minnesota.)
All sorts of cinema-y goodness!
These all came from local cinemas as they shut down. Neat pieces of the past!
A 35mm film projector donated to the museum.
There were a few signs like this around the museum. Talking to Martin about it, it’s due to the fact that they don’t own the building and it was purchased by a property development company a few years ago. They want to develop around the museum, but seem committed to the value of the museum, so they’re working on a new lease now. So it sounds like the museum is saved. 🙂
This monstrosity is a special kind of rectifier used to provide a direct current for a projector’s arc lamp.
Love all this stuff from old cinemas!
The letters came from a now-gone cinema (the Granada Harrow).
Charlie Chaplin hiding among the old cameras.
No idea what this contraption is, but it looked interesting.
The main museum space is one big hall, with the museum stuff on one side, and this screening space on the other.
Looking towards the museum space (as well as the little cafe/tables setup for screenings) from the screening space.
I saw this church, St Mary Newington, on my way to and from the museum.
Kennington Station is nearest to the museum.
With that fun experience behind me, I made me way back to the Charing Cross area, where I grabbed a final drink at Retro Bar and then made my way towards my next destination, Sky Garden. Located at the top of 20 Fenchurch Church (AKA the Walkie Talkie, due to the building’s odd shape, which once caused parts of a car to melt thanks to its reflections), the Sky Garden is a big, covered space with lots of plants and windows all the way around to give views over the city. There are also a couple of nice restaurants inside, though I think reservations are recommended (if not required) for them. And speaking of reservations, it’s free to reserve a ticket for the Sky Garden, though tickets are only required from 10a-6p. It’s open until midnight after that, but that’s handled via walk-up, first-come, first-serve. I’m not sure how difficult that is (I assume they close access off when too many people are there), so I recommend booking, ideally early. My booking was really last-minute (I looked on Monday and took the only available slot left), so I ended up with 445p on Tuesday, which wasn’t the best time, mostly because I knew the sun would be pretty much down by then. If it hadn’t been cloudy and a bit rainy, I may have gotten to see the sunset (especially since I got there about ten minutes early), but as it is, I could still appreciate the cool space. Lots of people walking around (much like Top of the Rock or the Empire State Building in NYC), but the space is large enough and is covered in windows that there are photo opportunities everywhere. Again, the weather worked against me because the windows had rain on them, which makes them harder to photograph through. Also, I could see the outdoor terrace, which would be PERFECT for photos, but it was closed (not sure if that was because of the weather or the fact that it was already dark out). I will definitely be back, though I’ll make sure I book before my trip so I can get a guaranteed spot during the day. Obviously there’s no way to predict the weather, but it’s free to go anyway, so I can just keep visiting until I get the perfect weather. 🙂 If you’ve been before, leave a comment and let me know what you thought, especially if you caught perfect weather. And if you haven’t been, add it to you must-visit list (and book ahead to avoid disappointment).
And now, some high-up photos! Well, plus a few others.
Passing by Retro Bar…before I walked in for one last drink.
Monument to the Great Fire of London.
Looking up at 20 Fenchurch Street.
A view of the space. There’s another side with more windows and views.
The only decent(ish) photo I got through the windows.
I did get this one as well, showing The Shard. You can see where the outdoor terrace is here.
I really like the fact that there are multiple levels within the space, allowing for lots of movement and the ability to look down, like this.
To round out my evening, I made booked one last West End show – Ghost Stories. Being a lover of horror films and because of the good price from TKTS, I decided to give it a try. I don’t normally do a lot on my last evenings, but this is a shorter play (it runs for 80 minutes with no interval), so with a 730p start time, I knew I wouldn’t be out too late. You won’t find a lot of details about this play anywhere online, nor will you find many in this blog – it’s meant to be a surprise! You can look forward to some genuine shocks and a good time at this show though, so I recommend it.
Just a few more pics to round out this trip.
Looking up at the skyline from the ground after seeing it from Sky Garden.
Heading into the theatre to get scared!
The same Christmas tree from the first photo, but lit up at night, with the BT Tower behind.
And that’s the end of this London trip! I’m now safely ensconced in my home in Minnesota, finishing this post while trying to stay awake so I don’t fall asleep too early (going well so far). This was a really great trip – lots of new-to-me experiences, solid weather for the most part, and some good time spent catching up with Matt and Steve. I always come back from London trips feeling happy to have spent more time there and already looking forward to the next time I go. I’m not sure when that will be yet, but you know I’ll share it here when plans are made.
Keep checking back for my latest adventures!