Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Tony's 21st

So I'm finally back in the blogosphere ;)

I thought I would be on a high from the weekend and blog all about the exciting things we did on Sunday night but it turns out that London is super busy busy and we came back completely exhausted! Then today was some mad day with so many things to do, mostly finishing an essay due today. Blah, responsibilities.

Back to more important things! Tonys 21st extravaganza!

I did not tell him anything at all. When we got to the airport I didn't tell him where we were going until it was inevitably revealed on the boarding passes. When we arrived in London I was so proud of myself because I managed to figure out where we needed to go and buy tube tickets without screwing up. Honestly I am so proud of myself. Not because I am a dumb bimbo or anything (I'd like to think I'm not), but because I'm so used to Tony looking after me and all of the important things that I haven't had to organise anything on my own for such a long time. I am so lucky ha? Or maybe I just have him well trained ;)

Please excuse the ugly photo.... (I was only 17 here!)

I haven't been to London in a long time, the last time I went was to the Brit Awards in 2007 (I won tickets on my local radio show) and we only went to Earls Court and stayed in a BnB across the road so we didn't get to actually see London. The time before that I went at about 12 years old for a friends birthday with her parents but I don't remember it at all. So I have no real idea of what London is like apart from general knowledge, hearsay and various media. I was quite apprehensive, I'd always had the idea in my head that London was a big, scary, busy place that I'd never want to stay in too long, but I think that might have been because the only thing I remember from the trip with my friend is getting lost on a very busy Oxford Street. 

After the weekend I realise that my opinions of London are as equally valid as they wrong. I know that makes no sense but I will explain.

The tube is less scary than I thought. Since all of the bad things that happened I have such an irrational fear of people with backpacks on tubes (look what the media does to people!!!) which was totally hypocritical because we were carrying a giant backpack! I also get a bit edgy on trains usually because I think it's mad that they hurtle along at such an alarming rate, wibbly wobbling all over the place and clunking all over the tracks. Makes me nervous.

First we arrived from the tube to Hype Park Corner and were greeted with Wellington's Arch. A tour bus later tells us that the bronze statue on top was (still is?) the largest/heaviest bronze statue ever erected and apparently the crazy Victorian designers had a meal inside one of the 4 horses before they hauled it on to the top of the arch. They didn't look big enough to me. We did the obvious touristy thing and posed infront of the statue before scurrying off to try and find the hotel and test our navigation skills.

Wellington's Arch
We were so lucky to be completely spoilt for Tony's birthday and we stayed at an ultra swish amazing hotel, thanks to his mum, on Park Lane!! Park Lane seems a thousand miles long compared to any road I'm used to, but after what seemed a lot of walking aimlessly in one direction we happened upon the correct hotel. I can tell you that it looks so much grander in real life than it does in photos...

The Dorchester
I have not really been exposed to such a place before and I felt a bit strange at first walking up to the doormen, all dressed in regal emerald green colour uniforms with matching top hats. Some were attending to the guests cars - I saw ferraris, rolls royce, hummer, lambo and aston martin over the course of the weekend. :O We walk in and are pleasantly surprised by the warm, welcoming and helpful staff, they did not seem judgemental at all and I'd thought they might have been at first. We were showed around the main areas of the lobby and then up to our rooms and holy moses it is the grandest thing you've ever seen. I can't even describe it, felt so surreal. Reminds me of a giant Victorian dolls house inside.
Beautiful marble bathroom and bath that fills to your neck!!
Since all the birthday activities were to be on Saturday we decided to go on a hunt for food. We totally forgot to consider that London on a friday night might be completely hectic, busy and more importantly fully booked. It took over an hour of making phone calls to find somewhere to go and eat. Luckily for a geek like me it turned out to be the favourite haunt of Oscar Wilde when he was alive. :) After filling our bellies we decided to walk back to the Hotel rather than get a taxi and have a little nosey at inner London. We only really saw Picadilly Road and Leicester Square but it was really fun and totally made me rethink my views of London. I could never before understand why anyone would want to get excited about living in London but my visit actually made me realise now. I still wouldn't myself but I can definitely see why other people might. Despite the busyness, loudness and largeness of the place it is actually quite beautiful.

Leicester Square is so colourful!
On the way back we encountered a curious new friend...
Saturday was a busy, busy day. First we were to have lunch at the Savoy Grill!! This treat is from my mum - I told him he is lucky to have so many women fussing over him! Anyway, Savoy was SO grand and another crazy swish place, also with doormen in top hats, this time in black. We decided to dress up a bit since it was his birthday!

Fancy outfits!
(Does that blue dress look familiar to you? It might... It is basically an imitation of the dress Kate Middleton wore when her and Prince Wills announced their engagement to the country officially. I didn't realise when I'd bought it, until someone pointed it out to me. Yay. I felt like a bit of a fool for a while and was quite nervous about people thinking I am a bit strange when we were in the Savoy, but the dress is pretty anyway and I really liked it so I didn't fuss too much.)

Savoy Grill food is SO YUM, and was a big treat to Tony since his favourite chef is Gordon Ramsay and it is owned by him! We tried lobster bisque, snails, ribeye and sirloin steak which were all delicious. The chef made a special birthday cake with three mousse chocolate layers, banana foam and kiwis - it was to die for! We were too full so we took the rest of the cake back with us. We tried to return home with it in it's box in my suitcase. Needless to say upon our return journey the box was smushed to smithereens and there was yummy cake all over my suitcase. Yay?

Also, the Savoy has people in the toilets that turn on the taps for you and hand you a warm hand towel when you are finished!! Don't get me wrong it was nice to be spoilt in such an unusual way but all I could think was "why is this necessary???".

We got back to the hotel to find the hotel staff had done some sneaky investigating and realised it was his birthday so left us with a surprise cake. MORE CAKE! How sweet of them huh? It was so delicious as well. The best thing about birthdays is definitely the abundance of cake!

We decided to try an open top bus tour of London and be real tourists. Pretty stupid though, paid £21 pounds each (this was reduced from £26!!!) to go on it and only after paying did I ask how long it took. Two and a half hours. Sitting through the whole thing would make us miss the evening entertainment. I was so frustrated. We sat on the bus for only 45 minutes in the end and got off at what must be the most amazing place on Earth. Hamleys!! Haha. Hamleys is soooo awesome! I felt like a little kid again as I ran about the store with a stupid gleeful smile plastered across my face. We played with so many things and got completely carried away until it was getting a bit too close to the time we needed to be at the theatre.
Saw this on a shelf - made us laugh so hard!
I did some calculating in my head and realised that we had a lot less time than we needed to make it. I panicked and had to practically drag myself and Tony from the store and proceed to power walk as fast as I could towards the hotel, hoping to catch a cab on the way. -.- It was rush hour...I was power walking much faster than the traffic. I was so flustered and mad by this point, nothing on Earth would have got in my way. 

We made it to the hotel with only 5 mintues to get ready before we had to jump in a taxi!! It was mad, just conveniently at that moment everyone at the hotel seemed to want a taxi and we had to wait for 5 minutes to get one. It seemed like forever to me. We had the biggest trooper of a taxi driver, he obviously knew what time most of the West End shows started and was rushing and taking shortcuts to get us there in double time - without us even asking! Great guy, we made it with 15 minutes to spare and the cab charge came to over £15 but he didn't have £5 change to give us so he just let us pay £10. Nicest taxi driver in the UK? I think so. Infact, surprisingly to me, all of the taxi drivers I encountered in London were really nice and seemed to know London better than my local taxi drivers know this minute seaside town. I have quite a bit of respect for them after this weekend!

The Lion King was a brilliant musical and I would definitely recommend it to anyone wanting to visit London and go to the theatre. I'm so glad I've seen it too. It was on my...

List of "must-sees in the West End"

1. Blood Brothers
2. To Kill A Mockingbird
3. Beauty and the Beast
4. Billy Elliot
5. Lion King

So I've seen the first two before in various theatres but I'd love to see them in the West End. I've also seen the ballet of Swan Lake which was completely stunning!

Sunday we returned home thoroughly exhausted but happy :) I think it was a pretty good birthday weekend. My birthday this year is going to have a lot to live up to!

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