Jan 22 – Come From Away
A few months back, I was lamenting the lack of theatre in my life. Having grown up in the theatre (I joined The Rainbow Company, a professional children’s theatre group at the age of 9 and was with Las Vegas Little Theatre for a number of years) this was something I missed. Interesting that when I lived in Vegas, I certainly didn’t see all the local theatre open to me, but at the same time, I knew it was always there, so it was okay.
Naturally, as soon as I left town and moved overseas to a non-English speaking country, Vegas got The Smith Center, with touring productions of all sorts of top notch Broadway shows so naturally, I missed out on that, too.
Anyway, I was lamenting the lack of live theatre and also lamenting the lack of a January vacation destination – Since Rasa had started her PhD, her downtime schedule did not align with mine. Even though we’re both in higher education at the same institution, our vacation schedules are not in sync. So it looked like January was going to be yet another stay at home month.
And that was when Rasa suggested I go to London and see some shows. I’ve done this before, most notably last March, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to go without her and Monki. However, she persuaded me, explaining that she couldn’t go (school) and if she did, we wouldn’t be able to see any shows (Monki) so maybe going myself would be a good way to have a little time off to get away from things. After some convincing, I agreed with her.
So we looked for flights, found some for 9.99 each way on Ryanair. Once I confirmed those dates would be okay with Lin (my adopted little sister whom I’d be staying with), we booked it. Then I asked Lin to work her magic. See, Lin works in the West End and not only does she know loads of people and see loads of shows, she knows the hacks to get good prices and decent seats! And I had just given her carte blanche to set me an itinerary for a six day holiday.
After she sent me listings for dozens of shows and other attractions, and we narrowed it down, she proceeded to actually work her magic and by the time I was on the plane heading to Luton, there was only one day I wasn’t seeing a show (but that was okay, since one of the other days, I was seeing two!). And these weren’t your standard, run of the mill, general touristy things (sorry Mousetrap!). Nope, these were some of the hottest tickets in town, new and edgy productions with big name talent (read the following posts for more details). I was stoked!
Once I had those hard and fast dates set in the calendar, I also made plans to see friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen for literally 35 years.
When the day finally came, Rasa and Monki drove me to the airport and I said good bye. Monki was nonchalant about it (until she realized, later that night, that I wasn’t coming home) but I knew I was going to miss both of them a lot! In the airport, being an American, I have to do a passport/visa check. Interestingly, I was the first one this year, and the girl at the desk took some time to reset the date on the approval stamp.
The flight itself was standard, traveling back in time two hours as we hit the U.K. But going through passport control on that end was a bit new. See, the last couple of times I’ve traveled to London, it took forever to get through customs and passport checks. So much so that I had built in a significant cushion when booking my shuttle bus into the city. But nope, this time I was able to use the E-Passport check, where you just slide your document into a reader, the machine takes your picture, opens a gate and away you go. That was it. I was ahead of my reservation time by an hour.
I wasn’t complaining at all!
I sent Lin a message letting her know I was on my way, and she said she’d meet me at Victoria Coach Station. When I got there, I got to use another piece of new (to me) technology and we “shared location” so we could find each other. That was amazing – I could see where she was on the map and she could see me, so we just walked towards each other and within minutes, we were hugging and deciding on meal plans.
In the end, we headed back to her place to have some food and talk for a bit, before it was time for bed. She had to work in the morning and after traveling all day, I, too was ratty beat – and I had an action packed week ahead.