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  WINDY CITY TIMES

TRAVEL Feeling jolly and gay in London
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times
2015-11-24

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There is so much to do and see in London, the capital of England, that it can be a bit of a challenge to not be bloody confused. Here are some ideas on what take in over a weekend.

Flying directly overnight on a Friday allows one to rise early to take on the long U.K. Saturday. American Airlines has a luxurious business class—which is strongly recommended in order to get a good night's sleep and avoid jet lag. Perks include unlimited wine, better food selections, programmable private movies, hot towels and warm nuts.

After arriving, taxis can be expensive to head into the heart of town; instead, try a few options, such at Blacklane, that have car service for a flat rate. Some of the city is walkable; however, after the drizzly rain and getting lost, it is easier to take The London Underground, sometimes called the Tube. It is the oldest underground railway network in the world, and is fairly easy to navigate.

For accommodations, The Langham, London is a beautiful property right in the heart of the city. The concierge service was easy on the eyes and nice for that traveler who needs a bit of hand-holding. Many Londoners are polite, but the staff here took it to a new level. The bar and restaurant were both top-notch. Who wants to leave digs like this? However, it was time to press onward.

The shopping district is massive and close by The Langham on Oxford Street. There are more than 300 shops. The crowds can be a bit overwhelming and the prices land on the high end. Don't tell anyone, but I shopped at the thrifty Primark clothing store and fell in love. The style was perfect and the prices were dirt-cheap. Everything felt like a steal, even with the tricky conversion amount.

Take a break and have some lunch at Hunter 486. It has an open plan kitchen with a toasty viewable oven where diners can watch the food be prepared. The braised lamb shank has a Mediterranean spiced aubergine and, paired with a the bloody Florence named from the mixologist's hometown, even a picky diner can't go wrong. There is a posh lounge and amazing hotel. ( P.S. Madonna's house across the street. ) Apparently, she and her nanny eat at Hunter 486 sometimes, and with good reason.

Located in the Lancaster London Hotel lies Nipa Thai, for those that crave some top notch Asian cuisine. Check out the scallops in red curry and the eggplant salad with shrimp. If seafood is not your thing, then try the beef salad. The yellow curry will have you yelling for more.

If you are seeking more traditional English food, then don't miss Rules Restaurant. If there is a wait for a table then head upstairs where the young bartender can explain handcrafted cocktails by the fireside. The scene from the James Bond film Spectre basically filmed at the table where I sat. The filet and shoulder of hare screams England, and the sticky toffee pudding is a traditional dessert that has an interesting texture.

If you have the time take the walking Chocolate Ecstasy Tour, where one can take in history as well as cocoa. Eating something beforehand is recommended to avoid a sugar rush; expect an expanded belly by the end.

It wouldn't be a trip to London without Big Ben. This is at the north end of the Palace of Westminster and is a bit of a walk so make sure there is ample time for the second largest four-faced chiming clock in the world. Head to Minneapolis for the world's largest if you are a size queen.

Another large sight is the London Eye, where a giant Ferris wheel takes up the South Bank of the River Thames. It is Europe's tallest Ferris wheel and give a bird's eye view of the surrounding area.

A tourist can stay for days in the British Museum there are so many levels and exhibits to take in. There is a cheat sheet posted for the must see sights for those in a time crunch.

London theater sports tons of musicals that tour and rotate over time. The hottest ticket currently is Gypsy, starring movie star Imelda Staunton, and it is getting rave reviews. Kinky Boots is making a big splash over there as well, in case people missed its debut in Chicago a while back.

For nostalgic fans of Dusty Springfield, there is a show where a musical about her life is told through one of her childhood friends—an interesting and entertaining way to learn about the icon's life.

Afterward, the Soho area offers a lot for nightlife. G-A-Y spells out and is a popular pitstop for pop artists like Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato to debut new music. If the twinks are too strong for you there then jet over to the Vauxhall area for a more residential crowd. There is an Eagle London for the taking and spanking. As far as the gay scene, there were cubs, bears, but no werewolves in London.

Overall most blokes were extremely polite, the sights were historic, and visiting London is a trip everyone should make at least once in their lifetime for the experience. .

For further London callings and excursions, go to www.londonandpartners.com .

Photos and text by Jerry Nunn


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