In the City Along the Thames

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London is a leading global city in the arts, commerce, education, entertainment, fashion, finance, healthcare, media, professional services, research and development, tourism, and transport. It’s been a major settlement for at least two millennia. It is, for me, a small but significant pleasure to know my way around some of it and to feel comfortable navigating its trains, bridges, and walks.

There was a time in a much more recent past history, mine, when the evenings in the wonderful and distant places I visited were spent relaxing, reflecting, and maybe enjoying a little night life. These days I find I must instead at night serve my new master, The Keyboard. That’s a commentary on Modern Life and on myself, of course. My evenings in foreign lands are now spent curating the day’s photos and writing this blog, my Facebook postings, and the travel sites I contribute reviews to, such as TripAdvisor and Booking.com. And the hotels and restaurants I frequent all want reviews and surveys completed, too. Honestly, it’s almost a second job. And that is why I’m actually finishing up these blog posts after having returned home.

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My train from Oxford pulled smoothly into Paddington Station and it’s kind of fun to meander along, with no particular deadline, while those all around me rush to get to wherever. “The Lawn”, an area at the station enclosed in glass walls, is still under renovation after over a year, I see. The Hilton I’m staying at sits atop the station and the lounge looks out over The Lawn, hence my interest. My Hilton Honors Gold status was rewarded with an upgrade to a suite and a few other benefits and I quickly settled in, then I set out on foot to check out the surrounding Bayswater area to see what changes may have happened in the year since I was here last.

After a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood and down to Hyde Park, working up a bit of a sweat, I went back to Paddington and into the pub on top of The Lawn, “The Mad Bishop & Bear”, and enjoyed one of their tasty real ales.

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This is also a Fuller’s pub and can be jammed at times with rail passengers, especially at the end of the day, but they always have a good range of beers and the staff is great.

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After a bit of a rest, I grabbed my Oyster Card and took the Tube to Piccadilly Circus. I checked out two pubs in the area (no decent real ales) before heading for my pre-theatre dinner at Cafe Monica. I cannot say enough good things about this restaurant – the food was excellent, the service great, and the price reasonable. And it’s right next door to the Gielgud Theatre. If you’re in the Piccadilly Circus area, I heartily recommend this eatery.

The show I saw was the The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. As it happens, it’s now just opening its run in Washington, DC, and it’s a wonderfully “theatrical” show. Fantastic on all creative accounts with a great script and a fine English cast. I really enjoyed myself. The audience even managed to behave themselves as far as cell phone abuse went. If you’re looking for a great evening of theater, go see this show.

Piccadilly Circus at night is a show of its own, of course. It’s sort of the “Times Square” of London, all lit up and bustling with tourists, townies, and panhandlers. I was glad to move through it quickly and get back on the Tube for my return ride to Paddington.

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