Virgin Atlantic invited us to participate in crafting a fun itinerary in London with a separate option for our readers to enter to win a trip, too!
Recently, Virgin Atlantic got in touch to invite us to take part in a bit of fun. They sent us (and nine other bloggers) a bag filled with random items (ours was virtual because we’re so far away here in Australia) from which we were to create a unique itinerary in London using everything in the bag in creative ways. In turn, Virgin Atlantic would select their favorite submission, and then provide flights to London and accommodation for two nights, along with help to make the actual experiences a reality.
But wait . . . there’s more! You can go to http://www.letitfly.virgin-atlantic.com/ to choose a dream bag and itinerary, and enter to win a fun trip to London, too!
Here’s what Virgin Atlantic chose for us:
- White button down shirt
- Jawbone Up Fitness Tracker
- Notebook and Pen
- Beach Pail
- Bowtie (or necklace for female!)
- Bicycle Tire Pump
The first thing we did was check out the Jawbone Up Fitness Tracker online. Boy, were we impressed!
Fit and Fabulous
The Jawbone is a simple wristband that’s a personalized fitness system, with a matching sophisticated app. It tracks how you sleep, move and eat, helps you understand more about your activity levels,and suggests smarter, healthy choices. You wear the Jawbone as a wrap-style bracelet 24/7. Its “Up App” incorporates goal-setting, tracks your activity and specific food intake, has a SmartCoach component and provides great analytics.
A more extensive, comparative review is here.
In Europe, we’ve done far more walking than in other locations. After our big trip last year, I wondered just how much distance we logged, particularly on days like this one. It was evident that we lost weight, even while
eating like pigs indulging ourselves with great food and drinks, but we never really knew. So we love the idea of pairing the Jawbone Up with an active London itinerary!
Using the notebook and pen to jot down the thoughts that would inspire our itinerary, we listed the Must Do’s. And, “quote-aholics” as we are, we found years of wisdom pertaining to London to give the itinerary an additional layer of inspiration.
Day 1: Heaven, Handel, Hendrix, and Hedonism
If Claridge’s is to die for, then Claridge’s it will be. The iconic art deco Grande Dame of the Mayfair District is going to be our headquarters.
Fortunately, after we check-in and before High Tea (oh yeah, we’re so doing High Tea) there’s time to head out in our comfy sandals to a couple of musical attractions.
First up is the Handel House at 25 Brook Street. Now Georg Frideric is perhaps best known for bringing royalty to its feet (unheard of!) when the Hallelujah! chorus was first performed in 1742. He wrote the Messiah and other masterful works between 1723 and 1759 while living in this home. Today, musical performances, exhibitions and special events here make Georgian London come alive.
Right next door to the Handel House, we’re going to get in tune with another of our favorite musicians: Jimi Hendrix! Jimi lived in the top flat of No. 23 Brook Street in the 1960’s. When Jimi learned who had lived in the house next door, he ran out and got a couple of Handel’s albums!
Circling back to Claridge’s Pete changes into the natty white shirt and bow tie for our classic High Tea experience. Tempted by the traditional sandwiches, scones and pastries, we are served with impeccable attention to detail on the finest china and silver. A musical duo performing traditional and modern classics adds to the atmosphere.
Primed for a Pub and Bar Crawl by the Telegraph’s and Fluid London’s recommendations, we cobbled together our own crawl for our first evening in London. We’ll be walking in the footsteps of celebrities past and present:
- The Star Tavern in Belgravia frequented by Diana Dors, Peter O’Toole and Alexander Korda, supposedly where the Great Train Robbers met to plan their heist in 1963.
- The Grenadier frequented by Madonna and socialites
- The Dog and Duck frequented by Madonna, George Orwell, built in 1897
- The Viaduct, known as a “Victorian gin palace” with beer cellars that could have been part of Newgate prison
- Cafe de Paris has hosted Mick Jagger, George Michael and others
- Jewel has hosted Elton John, Tom Jones and Lulu
Day 2: Bicycling, Bloomsbury and Beverley’s Brand of R&B
- Sticky Fingers owned by Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones
- Garden Lodge – home of Freddie Mercury of Queen
- Carnaby Street – the headquarters of hip in the 60’s
- Snap Galleries Rock’n’Roll Photography Exhibition
- Abbey Road Studios
- Crossing Regent Sounds Studios – Rolling Stones first hit recording
Next, we’ll fortify at Fortnum and Mason with a fresh Picnic Hamper for a picnic on Primrose Hill in Regent’s Park, where we can toast the glorious view of London with champagne (on ice in our beach bucket).
Dinner from the pre-theatre menu at the Landseer Restaurant in the historic Bloomsbury Hotel, which is located on Great Russell Street close by the West End theatre district. The building was designed in the 1930’s by renowned architect Sir Edwin Lutyens. We can choose a two or three-course dinner option with wine from an eclectic, “modern international” menu. Having stayed at the Croke Park Hotel in Dublin, another Doyle Collection hotel, we know we’re in good hands.
Called a “roof-raising evocation of the birth of rock’n’roll,” Memphis is our pick of the West End theatre offerings. The Tony Award-winning show is about the underground clubs of 1950’s Memphis, which brought R&B and gospel into mainstream rock’n’roll. These influences inspired our favorite musicians, be they British or Beale Street. With tons of excellent ratings, this show is a bold and original story set in a time when integration was just beginning. Beverley Knight’s star is high as one of the best soul singers in the world, and paired up with Killian Donnelly from The Commitments, this is a can’t-lose choice.
We end the day with a classy nightcap and a little post-show gossip at Fumoir as their website suggests, hidden behind the 1930’s Lalique panel on the main level of Claridge’s.
Day 3: Beachcombing, Mudlarking and the Borough Market
For this half-day, we’ll be using the sandals, beach bucket, notebook and pen.
Depending upon availability (and the tide), we’ll choose from either one of these morning walking tours of the Thames foreshore:
which will give us the chance to learn about history, marine wildlife and the archeology dating from medieval, Elizabethan, Roman and even mesolithic times. The Thames foreshore is constantly shifting and there is an opportunity to find interesting little treasures to stash in our beach pails.
After our shoreline excursion, we’ll hit the Borough Market to pick up a fresh, organic lunch. Just off the south bank of the Thames by London Bridge for a Victorian-era atmosphere, the Borough Market is now the go-to place for professional and amateur chefs alike. Repurpose the trusty beach bucket to hold ice for refreshing beverages? But of course! A “fit”-ing end to our Let the Fun Fly tour of London. Thanks to Virgin Atlantic for the opportunity to share our imaginative adventure!