Day 9: Monday, November 23

A Day in St. Albans, A Night with Priscilla

I was up in time today to catch brekkie at the Euro. Unfortunately it’s pouring rain today, and is windy and cold.

I finished breakfast at about 9:00 a.m., during which I was thinking carefully about how I should spend my last full day in (or around) this city that I so love. I decided to take a day trip to St. Albans, a charming, upscale town with a massive Cathedral, located about a half hour north of London. St. Albans is an easy train ride of about 20 minutes once you’re out of London.

To start my journey, I walked to the majestic, beautiful and gothic St. Pancras International and boarded a First Capital Connect train to St. Albans; fare was £10.00 for the return trip.

Outside, the weather was cold and it was raining hard as the train departed the station. Inside, however, it was warm and was a pleasant ride to St. Albans, and I arrived in good time.

I stepped off the train and began to orient myself in a new town:

I first walked along Victoria Street

… then went through The Maltings Shopping Centre. Next I found the tourist information board for St. Albans and purchased some maps and souvenirs there, then explored the side streets a bit:

I wanted to see the thing that had motivated me to come to this stately little town, so I located St. Albans Cathedral without further delay. There I spent a good deal of time admiring the Cathedral and the surrounding grounds. Absolutely beautiful:

Leaving the Cathedral behind I next explored Verulamium Park, checking out the original Roman Wall (to read about the historical significance and background of St. Albans, click here):

Verulamium Park with St. Albans Cathedral in background
The Original Roman Wall
Roman Wall Detail

I was absolutely freezing from the cold and wind, having spent several hours in it, so I began a slow return to the train station. I headed down a street named George Street, where I browsed a very interesting shop called By George and bought a wine bottle coaster. By George is a fascinating store specializing in handmade goods created by local residents.

It was getting late, and the weather was now truly turning dark and stormy; the rain had started to fall in earnest. I was hungry so I went in search of sustenance prior to my train ride back to London. Judging from appearances there wasn’t a lot of evening food choice in this town, so I walked back to a street (of which I failed to get the name) and bought a sub at Subway. This was a takeaway-only Subway, so I took my sub to the outside tables at The Maltings Shopping Centre – I tried to eat but the weather was just too damn cold!!! I ate only half of the sub and took the remainder with me, then made my way back along Victoria Street to the St. Albans train station.

I caught the train back to St. Pancras International, arriving at about 5:30 p.m. There, I bought an Oyster card (£3.00 initial cost + £10.00 load) as my 7-day London TravelCard had expired the day before. I now had an Oyster card just like the natives!

I returned to the Euro Hotel and prepped my stuff for departure early the next morning. HOWEVER!… I am not done with London just yet, for now it is time to make my way to the Palace Theatre in Cambridge Circus (Shaftesbury Ave. & Charing Cross Rd.) for the London stage production of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert!!! I have waited years to see this live production, and it has been one of my most anticipated events of this trip.

I took the Russell Square Underground to Leicester Square and picked up my pre-purchased ticket at the Palace Theatre box office. I needed some quick sustenance so I went to Pizza Hut across the street for a little pre-show nosh. I then returned to the Palace for showtime (I had scored an excellent seat in the Stalls: “I27”).


What can I say? I was absolutely blown away by the performance and the electricity of the audience (who were on their feet for much of the show). What a night…

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert at The Palace Theatre in Cambridge Circus

The performance finished about 10:00 p.m. On a buzz/high from the incredible performance, I went back to Leicester Square to get a last bit of nightlife on this, my last night in London. The wild party animal that I am, I settled for an ice cream at Baskin Robbins in Leicester Square. I sat out on their patio but it was way too cold, so I didn’t linger.

I hopped the Underground back to Russell Square, then back to the Euro. I tried to call Dad to see how he managed today (he had a medical procedure earlier that day) but there was no answer (it’s 7 hours earlier there so he still may have been in the hospital). I sent a final email to the gang at home, then packed and set alarms on multiple devices for the God-forsaken hour of 04:00 the next morning and went to bed.

What an incredible day, and what a perfect finish to this trip.

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