A performance at the Royal Opera House is a must see while in London! The Royal Opera company itself is one of the best in the world and the Royal Ballet is Britain’s largest ballet company. The Royal Opera Chorus acts as the backbone of the Royal Opera and performs an average of 20 productions each season. The chorus was created in 1946, when the Royal Opera House reopened after World War II.
You can get a small taste of the opera experience for FREE during their lunchtime recitals on Mondays in the Crush Room. Nine days before the recital, tickets can be reserved online, then collected from the box office the day of the performance. The Royal Opera House is located in Covent Garden and has two entrances. If you can’t make it to one of the shows, at least walk inside the building. They even give tours throughout the building, we will have to go back for one of those.
We saw ‘Opera vs Ballet’, with Andriy Viytovych on viola and Stephen Bettaney on piano. The recitals last one hour and during that time we listened to both opera and ballet pieces. In my opinion, ballet won the battle with Three pieces from Romeo and Juliet, Passepied from Cinderella and Scene de Ballet.
It’s been 1 month without a Tim Hortons cup of coffee, maple syrup soaked pancakes, some classic Swiss Chalet sauce and well, we couldn’t last any longer without them! To cure our homesickness for our staple foods we went to The Canada Shop in Covent Garden. Of course this is where plenty of Canadians go to pick up a few things they didn’t realize are different in the UK including pickles/relish, Christie cookies and Kraft products like KD and peanut butter.
Since there was a gathering of Canadians all in the store hovering around the maple syrup we felt like we knew them. It turns out we didn’t know them exactly but we did both know the same people! This is how it all happened, first the guy said he knew where Wyevale, Ontario actually was and had a friend there. I asked who (since it is a small town) and it turns out it was a family in Perkinsfield that I recognized the names of. It turns out he went to school with the brother of a girl I used to play hockey with. Yes, I AM CANADIAN!
The other “Canadian hot spot” in London is the Maple Leaf. It’s a pub just down the street from the Canadian Shop. It’s a sports bar that lets hope will show some NHL games if the strike ever ends. I think we found our place to go on Canada Day and to just hang out if we’re feeling a bit far from home.
Today we set out to wander around Covent Garden. Now that I’m back at my computer, looking up some of the places we ended up, I am realizing we only saw about 1/4 of the area. We ended up spending most the day in Seven Dials (image featured above), the only village in Covent Garden!
Seven Dials is seven streets of boutiques, brands, vintage stores, grooming salons and pubs. The village was built in the 1690s with a monument at it’s center. The monument has six sundials surrounding it with the seventh being the column itself. From the monument the seven streets all branch out from it. The village was built like this to fit as many houses into it as possible for greater profit. Unfortunately for the designer the village quickly turned into a slum that was renowned for it’s gin shops. From there it transitioned into a place known for ballad printers and singers. The area then attracted so many workers because of its cheap and compact living spaces that there were up to 8 people living in one room! This mass amount of people that moved to the area influenced the development of the surrounding areas. This caused larger shops to move in and a greater balance today between the vintage boutiques and modern day brands.
The history is still present in this area as there are some very quirky shops still around and extremely interesting street performers as well. We came across this man (image left) playing his guitar and singing all while hanging upside down.
After going up and down the seven streets we walked a block over to China town. The China town here was much different then in Toronto. In the London China town it was all about the food. The streets were lined with restaurants and only a few cheap shops to buy things at.
My favourite part of today was when we went to the ever so lovely Häagen-Dazs restaurant in Leicester Square!!! Yes, an ice cream restaurant with my favourite brand of ice cream, we obviously had to go inside. The menu was packed with ice cream/baked goods/drink combinations that you just couldn’t make up your mind on. Then they had a build your own section at the back juuust in case you wanted to try something different. I had a scoop of Baileys and Dulce de Leche ice cream with a Belgian waffle covered in milk chocolate sauce! (image to the right) It was amazing! David had chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate with some raspberries on the side. It was the perfect end to our day.