London Day 5: Old World

Today was a rainy day.  It was the wettest day of our stay in London.   It was a bad timing since we were about to leave for Cambridge in a few hours.   While we were eating breakfast at the hotel, the owner approached us and asked about our plans for the day like he usually did.  We told him about Cambridge.   He smiled and said that we should ditch our trip to Cambridge and stay in the capital instead.  Queen Elizabeth was going to give her annual speech in parliament that morning and it will be a good opportunity to see the queen in person.   He said we can wait for her convoy at the parliament house and if we’re lucky we might catch a glimpse of her inside her golden carriage.  It’s not everyday chances like this happen.   I would do anything to see any queen, even Queen Latifah.  But the problem was, our tickets to Cambridge were pre-booked so we chose Cambridge.  Forgive us your majesty.  

We went to Kings Cross Station to catch our morning train to Cambridge via First Capital Connect.  I only read Kings Cross in Harry Potter books but now I’m here.  That was funny and scary at the same time.  You’ll never know where life will take you.  Anything can happen. The train was fast and quiet.  Seats have generous legroom too.  I wish we have that back in the Philippines.  Traveling would be so much easier.

We were figuring out how the bus system works in Cambridge when a man approached me.  He offered me and my family a free walking tour to the town center.  In the Philippines, an attractive offer like this always comes with a catch. That’s why I found it sketchy and decided to decline his offer.  I can’t believe what I said.  I told him, “We’ll think about it.  I’ll just ring you if ever, yeah?”   Since when did I ever use the word ring as in call?  I watch too much Downton Abbey.

It was like we’re in a different world in Cambridge.  Everything is so old and grand.  The town looked untouched like it’s straight from the history books.  It's so beautiful there.  The architecture, the pebbled stones, the students, I mean everything.   I felt like I’m in a set of Harry Potter.   Too bad we couldn’t get inside some of the buildings like their libraries and chapels since it was examination week.

Cambridge is not complete without a punting ride at River Cam.  It’s a tradition in the University.  Besides it’s the best way to get see the beautiful colleges along the river like Trinity College, Kings College, Queens College, and St. John’s.  Our punter, which is also a student from Cambridge, told us as many stories of the University as she can.  One is how rich Trinity College is.  They own so much property in UK that one can go to London from Cambridge without leaving Trinity College property, and London’s 50 miles away!  That’s how rich and powerful that college is.   Another is how students prank tourists.   When tourists punting the river were about to go under a bridge, students would drop boulders of rocks and start shouting “the bridge is falling down!”  The tourist would then panic and jump into the water.  Luckily, it didn't happen to us.

Our punter was in a middle of telling one of her stories when all of a sudden she stopped.  She whispered that the guy punting the other boat ahead of us is William Moseley, the actor in Narnia.  Apparently, he played a lead role in the movie (Peter Pevensie), the eldest of the four children.  We were still trying to process that unexpected information when his boat came beside ours.  Our punter asked us to say hi to him and we awkwardly did a “you're a freaking actor why are you punting” hi.  What the hell is he doing there?  Maybe there's no offers for him anymore.  Too bad we weren’t able to take pictures of him.

After punting, we ate at this restaurant called EAT.  It’s all over London and locals seem to love it so we gave it a try.  Everything is healthy and freshly made.  I ordered a chicken sandwich priced at £4.  It’s quiet expensive for a sandwich really, but were curious.  It was disgusting.  It was drier than the Sahara Dessert.  Not to mention that it came straight out of a refrigerator.  Cold and dry is a weird combination.  I hated it.  I don’t understand why they like it so much.

After shopping at Grand Arcade Mall, we went to the station to catch our train back to London.  The train was full of teenaged students.   They were all excited for the weekend.  Everyone was noisy.  The group of girls beside me was busy deliberating what to wear for the party later that night.  With their English accent, the only thing that was missing was the spliff and it will be a typical Skins scene. 

After arriving in London, we went straight to Victoria Theater to watch the 8pm show of Wicked the Musical.   I was not thrilled to be honest.  I was really really tired and would like to go home.  But I can’t since the ticket was already paid.  We bought the cheap seats so were right at the top.  There’s actually a pay telescope per seat so that we can see the actors’ faces.  That’s how far we were from the stage.  The staircase was steep.  One wrong step and we’ll be on stage dancing with the casts.  The lights went off and the show began.  


 First minute:  “Wow, that’s a nice voice you got there.  This maybe a good idea after all.”  5 minutes later: “They dance too? Sweet.”  15 minutes later:  “Really, you’re singing again? Hush now, JC.  Let’s just pray that’s the last one.  30 minutes later: “Yup, they’ll be singing the whole show.”  How stupid can I be?  It’s a musical.  Of course, they’ll be singing the whole show.  I just thought that maybe it’ll be like Glee where it’s 50% talking and 50% singing.  I was bored and tired at the same time so, I closed my eyes a couple of times.  Okay fine, maybe I slept a couple of times.  I was awoken when I heard my sister shout, “OH MY GOD, kuya!  That was a performance!”  My sister was ecstatic and was about to cry.  She had goose bumps after the “Defying Gravity” was sung when she found out that I was sleeping the whole time.  I just stared at her blankly and said, “huh?”  She hated me for that.  My whole family enjoyed it except for me.  To make it even worse, they kept singing the songs in the musical on the way home.  On the bright side, I’ve learned something from that show.  I’ve learned that I hate musicals. Wicked!  Not.

Want more? Read London Day 6!

  1. Trains in Europe are always on time.  Filipino time doesn't work here.
  2. Visit Cambridge University, one of the oldest and best educational institutions in the world.
  3. Take advantage of Days Out Guide’s 2for1 or 4for2 promos. It’s legit.
  4. Make sure to do a punting tour.  It's the best way to see the university!
  5. Before watching a musical in London, check Theatre Monkey for the best seats in the house.
  6. Check this out for discounted musicals in London.
  7. Watch Wicked!  Don't mind me.  Everyone loves it except me.

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