Sunday, 24 December 2017

London 22/12/17 - Christmas Markets, SUSHISAMBA and Aladdin: The Musical

On the 22nd of December, I went to London to meet up with a friend of mine. Our plans for the day were to look around the Christmas Markets and stroll down the South Bank, lunch at SUSHISAMBA and Aladdin: The Musical in the evening. As normal with us, we ended up finding many other things just while walking around! Pictures under the cut.
Outfit of the day!
Jumper: Sainsbury's
Necklace: Etsy
Earrings: Primark
Jeans: ...just jeans
It was an 8:30am start to get a 9:30 train to get into London for 11am. Most of the journey, I read a book, and I had to theme it a little, didn't I? I couldn't really put together an Aladdin theme for my clothes, but I did try to get a little gold in!
A quick selfie before we left for the day!

A Whole New World would make more sense,
but I'd already finished it!

Coming in on the train. Can you see the London Skyline in the background?
The first thing I saw at Waterloo was there lovely big Christmas tree there, perfect for the season! I think the garland was real, dried oranges!

It made most sense for us to meet at Waterloo, since that's where my train was coming in. My friend Nicola was getting into London King's Cross, and coming over to meet me on the train. I waited in Foyles on the station, since I knew she'd know to look for me in a bookshop.
Foyles is actually pretty cool, and comes up again later!
The Waterloo area and South Bank happens to be the one part of London I know pretty well, so I took us out the back of the station and went with the idea of finding the London Eye. From there, it was just a walk up along the Thames.
I like to get a shot of the London Eye while I'm around here.
There was this interesting bit of advertising for Merlin attractions, and I just liked how it looked.

Look, one of the balls had fallen off!
In London, you should always keep your eyes open, because you never know what you might see. Much of what I photographed in this next section was a surprise, things I didn't know would be there.

A street performer as Charlie Chaplin, doing his thing
Across the Thames to Westminster, with Elizabeth Tower (to give Big Ben it's official name) scaffolded up.

I love carousels, and I took this picture mainly for the history section.
Now we get into what we actually came for - the Christmas Market. It was smallish, and not as busy as you'd expect from London the Friday before Christmas. This meant we could have a good look around, unlike with some where you can't actually get to the stalls to see what they are selling. One of the best things they had was raclette, and we got to see the cheese being placed onto someone's plate. As we were eating later, though, we decided not to get one for ourselves.
It's right under Waterloo Bridge, and did continue on for a bit beyond this photo.

One of the stalls were selling these patterned plates
Next thing we passed was the skate park, which is one of the reasons I like the South Bank so much - there's such a mix of culture along this stretch, along with the whole "never know what you might find" thing.

Some people don't like graffiti, but I prefer it to bare walls a lot of the time.
Also along here is the used book market. It wasn't really in full swing yet, and I didn't want to waste a large amount of our limited time looking around, so we didn't stay long.

Next thing we saw was a man making a snow scene sandcastle down on the beach. Yes, in one of the beaches of London along the Thames.
This is just proof that someone was making a sandcastle along the beaches of London, which are a thing that exist!
A picture so you can see the sandcastle clearer. It looks amazing!
Another thing we found was this tiny alcove of creative shops, with a carol singing group. They had one shop doing the coolest bags. Another had cute little minimalist necklaces, and I bought a small one with the London skyline.

Nicola had found out online about this cider lodge run by Rekorderlig. We decided to stop in there, since at this time we could both do with a sit down and a boost. They had more of a Christmas Market inside, too. I could have watched some of the food stalls all day! We decided to have a mulled cider, and took it outside. Please note that it was warm enough to sit outside in Britain in December.
From the outside. It was ever so cosy!

Both of us with our drinks!
So, Nicola had been planning something with our other friend, Rosie, who lives in London. Nicola's taking this long time drinking this drink, and checking her phone a lot. So, I'm just sort of looking at the door, and I have to do a double take, because Rosie walks through! It was lovely to have a catch-up chat with her.
These two! Rosie had herself a normal cider.
Unfortunately, Rosie couldn't join us for lunch, so we split back at Waterloo station. We took the Waterloo and City line to Bank, and from Bank to Liverpool Street station. The Waterloo and City line has to be one of the most pointless! Sushisamba (which I will stop writing in ALLCAPS because it's getting on my nerves) is up a tower, and we had to take a lift to get to the top. This lift was awesome.

The view from the top of the lift!
We both took quite a few photos of this tree!
I couldn't fault the setting. It was well-decorated, nice inside and out space, and a great view. The food was some of the best sushi I've had in my life, and I've had a good bit of sushi. We sat down to eat at about 3pm, and it was still busy, despite that not being peak eating time. Considering we had cocktails, a starter to share, main courses and dessert, it was pretty reasonable. Especially considering it was in such an amazing setting. However, I will say that we were often kept waiting for service for a good while.
This ceiling was amazing!
I had the Tokyo Sky Tree sushi roll, and Nicola had sashimi and tempura fried vegetables. We shared a portion of edamame beans to start. To drink, I had yuzu gin fizz and she had shiso wine. For dessert, we had mochi to share.
Table layout! You can see Nicola's tempura vegetables, which were so good, and also our drinks and edamame beans

By the time we had finished here, night had fallen. We took a few more pictures of the view with all the lights out.
This tree looked even better at night!

London at night is best London
We still had a little while before the show, but we wanted to make sure we were in the right general vicinity, so we took the tube to the right station, and had a look around from there. One of the first things we wanted to do was find the theatre, so we'd know where to come back to. Along the way, though, we passed heaven. A five floor book shop, a branch of Foyles. I turned to Nicola and said "well, if I get started looking around here, you'll never get me out." She agreed, so we didn't spend long. I had bought eleven books the day before, so it wasn't as if I exactly needed any new ones, but that's not the point.
I am not joking about how large this place is.
After that, we did find the theatre wasn't far away, and we found we were close to Chinatown. This area was really starting to come alive. Some of the restaurants smelt amazing, and many of them had a lot of customers, which is always a good sign. It's a really cool part of London, actually.
I really liked how this gate looks. I think the proper name for these is paifang? Please correct me if that is wrong.
After that, we turned a corner and found ourselves in Leicester Square. We were not intending to go to Leicester Square for any reason, but since we were there, we might as well look around. Of course, the first place we saw was M&Ms World. Honestly, don't waste your money, there's so many other things you can do in Central London. Since we were just killing time before a show, it did the job, but really all this place is is merchandise.
I will say these do look pretty cool.
In Leicester Square is another Christmas Market. This one was a bit busier. It also felt a little more Christmassy, maybe because it was darker and the light stood out or that it was a little colder by that time? I bought a lebkuchen heart to take back for Dad. I've liked these since I went to Nuremberg. I know they're different to traditional lebkuchen, but they still taste nice.

And now we wanted a sit down and a drink, so we decided to find our way back to the theatre. Despite seeing it earlier, and not being that far away, we of course got lost and couldn't find it. After going in circles for a while, we managed to get google maps to co-operate, and found our way there. I bought a program before the show began, but I was a little disappointed. There were no full-pages of photograph stills, and those they had put into their own book. Still, the writing and interviews were still there.
I actually took this picture after the show - note the people coming out of the doors!
It was a very good show! I mean, there's not really such thing as a bad West End play. There's always so much that goes into them. The effects were amazing, especially during Friend Like Me, Prince Ali and A Whole New World, which were showstopping numbers on their own. Genie was brilliant, almost giving a panto-like atmosphere, and obviously having big shoes to fill. If Genie hadn't been so good, the entire thing would have fallen flat, because Genie is just that important. I really liked Babkak, Omar and Kassim, too. At the beginning, I was a little "Well, what's the point of them?" but by the end, I gave them almost as big a cheer as I gave Genie. They're responsible for some of the catchiest new numbers in the entire show. I will say that I thought the ending was a little rushed, compared to the movie.
There was a nice view from the theatre balcony. Note the House of Minalima!
I got the 10:37 train out of London, changed once at midnight, picked up my next train at 12:30, and got home a little after 1am. What a long day!
Purchases of the day! Necklace, lebkuchen heart and program!

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