Viking Cruises….Ocean and River

Effective January 1st…I am the Redding agent for Viking Cruises, and am very pleased with this opportunity. We just completed our 3rd Viking Cruise…and I am now “a believer” in Viking. They are great. No wonder they are consistently rated #1 among the Cruise lines.

Viking Cruises, both in their Ocean and River Cruises, offers cruises where you truly explore your destination-through its food, culture, countryside, and customs. You learn about the lands through which you travel via informative talks that bring history to life through cultural adventures, in-depth pre-trip materials, and on-demand programing-all designed to help you experience the most from your travels.

So, just send me an e-mail at   and I will get you brochures, information, details on the Cruises, both Ocean and River…and we will go from there. Viking is a winner.

Thursday in London…Churchill War Rooms, and RAH

Another MUST…if you are interested in British history…and especially WW II….and what led up to it. How we missed the Churchill War Rooms museum and exhibit is a good question, for this is a great exhibit and history lesson in what happened leading up to the war…and then what Winston Churchill did to lead Britain to victory.

This is a good 2 hours if you take your time…located right off of Whitehall in the heart of the government offices and right around the corner from #10 Downing Street…which was the office for Winston Churchill as Prime Minister….and literally across the street from the War Rooms.

The War Rooms is the entire area where the war was conducted by the Prime Minister. This was the Command Center, the Ops Center, and the Communication Center for the leadership in the Government. It is very well re-created in the exact rooms used back during the War….and shows the various players involved and how they were involved.

The Museum is very well done….and I found it most interesting after going through the Rooms themselves….as it kind of puts all in perspective. The way the tour is set up, the Museum is in the middle, but thanks to Carrie having been there previously….she suggested the Museum at the end, and I agree.

Just a great part of the London history…so put it on your list..

Following the War Rooms, we went to the Royal Albert Hall for the Classic Christmas with London Concert Orchestra and London Concert Chorus…and then the famous Boys Choir.  Another great show…more Classic than on Wednesday with not as much “flair”…but superb classic performance. As good as it gets if you like excellent orchestra and choir, with the massive organ…..just a GREAT EVENING of great music..

Getting Around in London

Having lived here many years ago…then having visited several times over the past few years….and knowing the way the world is growing… issue in London that could come up is …”getting around”. And, when you are in a “season”, such as now being the Christmas season…crowds and traffic increases significantly, as London is becoming one of the most popular tourist and travel destinations in the world…folks are coming here from all over the world.

First, all traffic drives on the left side of the street, versus the right side, which is most common in most of the modern world. Secondly, the streets are quite narrow at times….so not a lot of room to change lanes, etc…..even the main streets are not that wide, so you have to be very alert to traffic on all sides. Thirdly, the volume of cars, taxis, and buses can be overwhelming at times…and all coming and going in various directions can be very intimidating. It compares with NYC, Rome, and Bangkok in volume, but very well organized, and the lines and signals are followed by all….might be called organized chaos.

Add the public transport to this mix, and it is amazing that all goes together so well. The underground, or metro, or tube…is world famous and absolutely massive in size….again, nothing really like it in the world. Well posted, once you get the idea and “swing of it”…very easy to navigate, but be prepared for crowds. The system works so well, so thousands use it daily….and it goes about 20 hours a day. The double decker buses are great, and go all over the place at all times. The bus stops may have 5 or 6 buses stopping at these stops, but the bus numbers are well posted…and the numbers are what you watch for. For example, but #10 runs up and down Knightsbridge…which takes you right to the Royal Albert Hall…#6 goes to Trafalgar, etc. The taxi system is very popular and very busy….and historically are the basic means to get around. Not cheap, and at times, not much faster to get from one point to another due to traffic, but very comfortable and safe, and they are well regulated, so no need to worry about being “ripped off”. The drivers are usually very friendly and will help as much as needed….they appreciate the tourists. The interesting thing is that many, many locals, including business folks and local shoppers, use the taxi system….so they know it works well.

So, in summary…getting around is pretty easy to figure out…and pretty easy to go from one place to the other. The key is to get the many maps, from the general maps to the bus maps to the metro – tube maps…and most of this is on various apps now. But, and this is a big “but”…be prepared for crowds, which can really slow down the entire system. When the hotel concierge says 30 minutes, give yourself 45 minutes, or even an hour, and so it goes. And, be prepared for crowds at the seasons….and if you want to see the “changing of the guard” in the summer, for example, be prepared for massive crowds lining up at the fences an hour, or more, early. And,, when one is in these tourist areas, look for the higher places to view the event…looking over the crowds, even though maybe a bit further away.

Just some thoughts on “getting around”. Can be done without much difficulty…but prepare, and be prepared.

Enjoy the travel in London….it will be a unique experience…..

Wednesday in London…Royal Albert Hall

Wednesday was a quiet morning…then leaving for the Royal Albert Hall at 1 PM….taking the bus through the heavy traffic arriving at about 1:45…..went to the café to wait for Dawn and Carrie and William…Dawn was there and Carrie came about 2:15…we went up to our seats and the program began.

There are few musical experiences (in my opinion) in the world that can equal the concerts at Royal Albert Hall (RAH)…if you are looking for the total orchestra, band, choir, and soloist all in one performance…but here it is. These RAH Christmas programs run right up to Christmas and start late November….some days with 2 concerts a day.

This concert, which is the first of three for us, featured the London Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Chorus, and the Coldstream Guards Band, plus a Tenor from the London Opera. The program was entitled Christmas Carols and was a 3 hour concert that included the audience singing Christmas Carols along with the orchestra and chorus, and the huge and unbelievable organ…that is clearly the biggest sound of any organ that we have ever heard. RAH seats about 10,000 and is the main entertainment venue for London, and to a degree, England. It is a wonderful place to listen to concerts…and even though we are in the high up “cheap seats”… I think they are the best in the Hall…for you can get the full impact of the huge musical production. For the program, the variety of music is from classical to modern arrangements of both familiar and not so familiar Christmas songs. I could go on and on…but suffice it to say…this was a wonderful musical moment….a once in a lifetime experience for a music and concert lover like me…performed by some of the best musicians in the world….as good as it can get.

Back to the hotel as we were too late for the Charles Dickens program, so will try and reschedule. Today is the Churchill War Rooms….then a full afternoon of tourist things…with another RAH concert this evening at 7:30 PM…

Should be a fun day…….




Why London?

I am often asked, Why London at Christmas?  This being my 5th year here in the last 6….I guess I know it is safe to say…”the most Christmas music of any city in the World at Christmas”…..and this includes the full spectrum of music, from the broadway musicals in the West End, to the most professional classic music at St Martin’s……to the unbelievable production programs at Royal Albert Hall….London has it all.

In addition to the music, and more on this to come….the lights decorating the City are the most dazzling, extensive, and creative of any city in the world. From the exotic street lighting decorations to the fabulous window decorations….nothing in the world compares. Having been in NYC a few years ago …. no comparison with London. And, along with the decorations, come the crowds….and they come from all over LONDON and England, but from all over the world….so you have big crowds everywhere. It is one of the busiest times in the year for LONDON.

The music is the big draw for me….and it has to do with the churches and Royal Albert Hall, which is the main music center for the country. It is our Kennedy Center in NYC, etc….or the Staples Center in LA….RAH has it all, and it has it all year round. Starting, though, in early December, RAH becomes the center for Christmas musicals, and music activing. It is a huge circular hall, so probably seats 10,000 visitors, and has been remodeled several times to make it acoustically near perfect. Even though you can sit in the “cheap seats”, which I do and like, every seat in the hall is a good seat.  I sit up high in the back, as you can get a good perspective of the entire Hall and the music is clear and loud, when needed…and when the audience is singing, it is a sight to behold and to hear. Really, nothing like it in the world, in my opinion.

Then, there are the churches. From Westminster Abbey to St Paul’s Cathedral….there is some kind of church service or Christmas music service every day…and at some of the churches, twice a day. It is tradition….and for hundreds of years, the churches have been the foundation for music at Christmas. At some of the churches, like the Piccadilly Church a block from Piccadilly Circus….they have a daily hour long music offering at noon…for all of those that are in the area at the time. Each day at St PAUL’S, there is a music and prayer hour….and so it goes. This year we have 7 musicals scheduled in 6 days…a couple of years ago, 8 programs in 8 days…..and these will range from an organ concert at Westminster to a full blown musical production at RAH.

Then, there is West End, or the Broadway of LONDON. All of the major productions are running, so all of the attractions connected with the Theater are in full operation, which includes the Jazz Clubs, Rock music clubs, etc. it is just a vibrant time in the entire Covent Garden – Leicester Square area….literally the “Times Square” of London….but full of music.

So, London at Christmas…means Music at Christmas for me….and there is nothing better in the World if you like classical and concert music….in a marvelous Christmas celebration environment.

More to come…