New Years Europe trip

We’re now a week back from our trip to London and Paris, and I’m finally back on US Eastern time, tho I am nursing a cold I’ll blame on traveling. It was a truly great trip, in spite of weather that could have been better. We (myself, Jan, and my sister Susan) flew direct between RDU and LHR, so that reduced some of the air travel stress. On arriving in London after the overnight flight, we were happy that one of our rooms was available for check-in at 8AM, as that gave us a chance to get organized for the day. Since it was raining, we opted to head to the British Museum, getting there about 10 (opening time) along with everyone else in London. However, we saw a lot (Susan had never been there before, and the last time Jan and I were there, it was a short visit) and it was a great start to the trip. We went back to the Chesterfield Mayfair to prop up our feet for a while. We had tickets to the G-Funk jazz show at Pizza Express in Soho, so we headed over there about 7:30PM to have a slice before the 8:30 show. We’d heard about this venue on internet radio, and it was outstanding. Imagine a basic pizza chain restaurant, where you go down into the basement to a room that seats about 75 people at tables, with about 10 feet between you and the performers. Miles Gilderdale (of Acoustic Alchemy) is the lead of G-Funk, and put on a fabulous show for 2 solid hours. If we lived in London, we’d be there all the time…


On Tuesday, we slept in, knowing we’d stay up for the New Year’s fireworks, so we headed to Buckingham Palace a bit before 11 to see if the changing of the guards, or Horse Guards parade was going on. Alas, canceled due to blustery, rainy weather. We headed down the Victoria Embankment, went by St. Paul’s Cathedral, and then crossed the Millennium Bridge to the Tate Modern Gallery. We headed back for dinner at the Chesterfield Mayfair (quite nice) and then to the edge of St. James park to watch the fireworks. We’d read about this, and it lived up to expectations, despite the stiff breeze blowing the pyrotechnics.

New Year’s Day brought more rain but also the London New Year’s parade, featuring about 8500 participants and a half-million spectators. The parade stages on Picadilly and around Berkeley Square, just a couple blocks from our hotel, so we watched an hour or so before heating to West End for a matinee performance of Matilda. This is an excellent show, and we were fortunate to have seats on the 3rd row on the center aisle.


We turned in early since we were catching the 0540 train to Paris. The weather actually sounded promising for the 2nd, with rain ending about the time we arrived in Paris, and sure enough, we got to Paris with clear skies and the sun coming up (at 9AM local time, with the hour difference from GMT). We took a cab from Paris Nord to Notre Dame, and then strolled toward the Louvre…to find a 4 hour line to buy tickets. We stood in line for about 30 minutes, and then a fortuitous chain of events transpired. Where is the “loo” at the Louvre queue? Google said try the Carosel du Louvre. I reconnoitered, and found not only a fine facility for 1.5€, but also a very short line to buy tickets at the Museum Pass shop. Some quick texting and we were in! Saw the high points (gee, the Mona Lisa is small from across a sea of people in the room) and absorbed the ambient culture 🙂 . Then, to the Tour d’Effiel. There was a ridiculous line for the elevator, so we stood on queue for about 45 minutes to walk up to level 2 (the top was closed). It was well worth the walk! We had dinner, admired the lights on the Tower, and strolled up to the Champs-Élysées. The Christmas lights were still up and were spectacular. However, we had a train to catch (the 2113 to London) so we headed to the station.

Friday the 3rd, we slept in, and then tried to ride the London Eye. However, it was shut down for technical problems while we were in line 🙁 (the Eye was due to shut for 2 weeks for annual maintenance on the 6th). Oh well. Grabbed some fish & chips at a pub near the hotel before the evening show of Les Misérables, which is my all-time favorite musical. We had the great fortune to have seats on row 4 for a great view.


Saturday was our last full day, and we decided to visit the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square, and to try the Eye one more time. Successful on both counts! Some Google homework for the reader – why is there a big blue cock in front of the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square 😉 ? The Eye is spectacular, particularly after dark…


What a great trip! Almost makes up for 9 hours cramped in an airplane seat, fighting the jet stream, headed back to North Carolina…

One thought on “New Years Europe trip

  1. Aprille

    Wow! What a trip! Lucky ducks…I’ve never been to Paris for any significant time, but it’s on my wish list! We were in the mountains of Switzerland and had lots of snow over the holidays. It was gorgeous and full of family fun!


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