May 122011

Day 21 (May 11, 2011)

Itinerary: Shopping, Wicked, The Comedy Store improv

Today is our last day of vacation. As I’m typing this, I think I might have gotten off in my numbering of days. Today should be day 22, I think, not 21. I might have doubled up somewhere, or maybe I’m just confused. In any case, I’ll leave it as is.

This morning our goal was to find an inexpensive piece of luggage for Mark to take to Algeria with the recent purchases we’ve made. Since I didn’t bring an action packer full of food this rotation leave, we ended up buying food and beer in London to take. We ended up at an interesting store called Argos. The goal of this store is to have a small front for customers and a huge warehouse of stock. It is an interesting business model and certainly works here. Inside, a table with many paper catalogs was available to us for shopping. We simply browsed the contents of the store via the catalog. Once we found a suitably inexpensive rolling bag, we made note of the catalog number and then went to the front desk to order and pay for it. Once the item was paid for, we moved to the waiting area set up very similar to DMV in the states when you have to wait in that ridiculously long line to get a driver’s license. We were the only order being processed at the time, though, so in about 3 minutes, our order came down from wherever the warehouse was. I’m thinking they store the stock vertically on floors above the storefront. Out popped our suitcase, and we picked it up and walked back to the hotel. It was a very simple, easy process. It only works for us because we didn’t care what we got. Our 69cm piece of luggage was all of 16 pounds, but it only has to last for one flight.

At the hotel, we started the process of packing. It is time to split up all the belongings and make sure all the right things go to Algeria or to Houston. I’ll spare you the boring details of packing. =) Once done, we traveled back to the Texas Embassy Cantina for one last tex-mex lunch for Mark. We really are happy with the food there and out order again today came out great. We also learned that the actual Texas Embassy building to the Republic of Texas was actually at another location closer to Buckingham Palace. Originally we thought this might be the old Texas Embassy turned restaurant. Later on we’ll go find the original building.

We made it just in time, after lunch, to get in to see Wicked. We found out the secret to getting good seats is to arrive about 2 minutes late so they seat you in the easiest seats instead of your actual seats. We ended up in a price level higher than what we had purchased and we were happy with our new seats. This probably doesn’t always work of course, but we felt lucky with our timing. The performance was fantastic as expected. Amazingly, neither of us has seen Wicked before, so we both enjoyed the introduction to the storyline as well. The set mechanics always interest me and I thought they did a marvelous job with the set design and easy changes. We were both confused by the large model of a dragon above the stage that didn’t really do much throughout the show, but it did look cool.

After our afternoon show, the sun came out, and we decided to walk to Piccadilly for our evening entertainment. It helped that it was rush hour and once again they had closed the Victoria Station Underground due to overcrowding. This time, however, we were on the outside unable to get in. It did look quite packed full of people and we had the time to walk, so we did.

Once again the Will and Kate souvenir shop was closed, but we did get to see Buckingham Palace in the daylight. We were amused at two of the Royal guards standing next to each other that had about a foot and a half difference in height. The walk to Piccadilly was very pleasant. We stopped in a tea shop for Mark to find some good English tea to take back to Algeria.

Mark had time for some Ben and Jerry’s before it was time to get out seats for our evening comedy improv show at The Comedy Store. We watched many of the same comedians that we saw at the utterbelly festival a couple days ago. The show was very similar with the same games, but because the audience suggestions were different, it was a very different show. We were nearly rolling in the aisles laughing at the routines. What a great night of British comedy and a great way to end the vacation in London.

Tonight we finished packing, and finally got to bed. In 3 hours we’ll be waking up to head back to the train station to get to the airport where we will say goodbye to each other and to London. This has been another most excellent vacation.

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