Jeff and Kristin In London

- by Seth

This weekend we had two friends of ours in town, Jeff and Kristin Joyce.
Both are pretty laid back and we didn't make any plans beforehand. So
here's what we did.


Jeff and Kristin called about 11 am and we went to meet them at their
hotel, the Westpoint Hotel up on the north side of Hyde Park. We
walked around a bit and decided to go to the Half Price Ticket Booth
and get tickets for Elvis, the musical.

I've written about the Half Price Tickets and getting tickets in
London before. If you're interested go to:

So we were able to get good seats to Elvis at half price plus a 2
pound service charge per ticket. Fifth row, slightly to the left.
We were sort of excited about the good seats since we had never sat on
the floor before, but I wondered a bit why the good seats were still
available on a Sat afternoon when the tourist season was high. I
guess everyone was going to see Cats.

Leicester Square:
Tube Stop: Leicester Square, Covent Garden
Activities: Movies, theatres, Half Price Ticket Stand, eats
Cost: Depends on how much you eat
Restaurants: Chilitos, Bella Pasta, various
Cautions: Herds of people, pickpockets, getting ripped off at false
discount ticket shops.

And even as we waited, it was enjoyable hanging out in Leicester
Square. There's always an interesting crowd and many good places to
eat or drink at. But it's very touristy. If you want to go to a
movie in London, this is one of the better places to go. There are
two large movie theaters on the Square, so that normally gives a
choice of almost anything that's currently playing.

Movies in the U.K.
The movies here are between 3 and 7 months behind the releases in the
States. The British are very proud of their movies and many of the
reviewers scoff at the big market American films. The british make
proper films like Jane Austin films and period pieces. Or they try to
imitate the French and make dark, meaningful films that, in my
experience, are just dark attempts at meaningful thrillers that just
don't quite make it. Now don't accuse me that I'm just too uncultured
to be able to follow these films. If I can get through Kafka's The
Castle or even follow 2001, I think I could at least make surface
sense of these films. Well, I just don't. But then again, I must
admit I don't always watch for the intellectual stimulation. I rented
Mad Dogs and Englishmen just because Elizabeth Hurley supposedly had a
nude scene (and since I can't remember anything impressive about the
film that I only watched about 4 months ago, I guess Liz didn't make
that much of an impression). But I digress. As I said, the Brits are
proud and brag of their film industry, and agreed, I like some of the
British actors and actresses. I think Anthony Hopkins is great. But
need they bash the American films while they're at it? I think it's
just typical that although the American films are supposedly trash,
they're the ones that all the public go to see.

Also, I have a theory on why the movies don't appear over here for 3
to 9 months after they've been released in the States. I think it's
so the stars can promote the movie at home, and then promote the
release over here without trying to do both at once. I've only seen a
couple of movies come out at about the same time and one of those was
Golden Eye - the new James Bond flick. Just a theory.

Oh, also, the movies theaters over here are cool in one aspect. They
normally list when they start the previews, when the actual movie
starts and when it is due to end. Makes it easier to make a last
minute decision or probably for parents to pick up kids. Many
theaters also have assigned seating. I have yet to decide whether I
like that or not. No opinion yet.

Covent Garden:
Tube Stop: Covent Garden
Activities: Shops, vendors at tables, local performers, restaurants,
London Transport Museum
Restaurants: Chi Chi's, Friday's, many, many others
Cost: Depends on how much you eat and shop. Can be cheap entertainment
Drawbacks: Enough people to make you feel like a herd of sheep on
weekends, pickpockets.

Back to Saturday's activities. From Liecester, we walked to Covent
Garden. I like Covent Garden when I can handle the crowds. Covent
Garden is centered around an old marketplace and almost any day you
can go and see some vendors set up with various wares, mostly clothes
and jewelry. But it is a permanent structure and there are several
good restaurants there and usually some performers. For those
Americans craving a taste of home, there is a Friday's there, a Chi
Chi's and a few other american type restaurants. Also notable is the
Doc Martin store. Interesting, but you can get a better deal at the
Camden Market if you're willing to go without a return guarantee.
That Saturday we bought a Teddy Bear passport for Tara's bear,
Brownie. A hefty 3.99 pounds, but it made her happy, so therefore it
made me happy. Kristen saw it and convinced Jeff to go with her and
get one also. We took them to show them the Punks that normally have
a band set up at the entrance to the London Transport Museum. They
are always interesting. This week they had red and green mohawks. At
another end of Covent Garden is the Punch and Judy's pub where you can
go stand on the balcony with the rest of the other drunkards and look
down upon the hordes of tourists. If you are on a tight budget and
want some entertainment for an hour or so, there are usually enough
jugglers, flame eaters, bands or other strange acts going on around
Covent Garden to keep one interested. But beware of pick pockets.
They're everywhere.

From there we went to Picadilly Circus. Picadilly Circus can be fun.
It has the huge neon signs, looking somewhat like Blade Runner at
night. It has a Tower Records, some shopping, but more entertainment.
It also has a Friday's restaurant and several movie theatres.

That's all right now.