Aug022016

London Walks Lost in Sexy Soho

Hard to believe my walk through Soho, London only lasted ten minutes according to the photo timestamps. They were a memorable ten minutes in sexy Soho.

This is a continuation of my description for a walk through London I did last week after taking an unplanned voluntary denied boarding for a United London Heathrow to Los Angeles economy class flight.

The backstory

The backstory to this series on a central London walk is I left Stavanger, Norway airport on British Airways on the morning of July 26 and arrived at the gate in LHR for a 12:30 afternoon departure to Los Angeles on United. There was a call for volunteers to accept a later flight for compensation. I looked out the airport big glass windows and saw grey skies, but no rain and little snippets of blue sky through clouds in the distance. I thought about how I am at the end of 16 days in Europe on one of the best times I have had traveling with my wife Kelley and how I did not want this feeling of European summer to end.

My small backpack held my computer and camera, an umbrella, waterproof bag and raincoat. Also, an extra shirt, socks and underwear. I was wearing tennis shoes and not the smelly sandals I had been living in for two weeks. I was wearing zip-off pants I could convert into shorts and not just shorts I had been living in for nearly two weeks. The beginning of our trip included some days in pants since Stockholm was a little chilly in July.

The only thing missing from this scenario was my wife. I’d left her standing at an airport bus stop in Copenhagen, Denmark the day before when I flew off to Stavanger, Norway. If all were going according to plan, then she was sitting in a Business Class seat on American Airlines somewhere over the Atlantic right about then and out of consultation reach for my snap decision.

I handed over my LAX boarding pass to the gate agent for consideration of a VDB compensation package. Ten minutes later my seat was gone to some grateful flyer with a promise from the gate agents to fly me to San Francisco directly the following day.

By 1:30pm I was walking onto the London Underground and in my pocket were a VDB compensation package consisting of $400 United Airlines credit voucher, a hotel room voucher for Radisson Blu London Heathrow reserved in my name by United Airlines, two one-way hotel transportation vouchers for the local LHR airport Hoppa buses specifically contracted for multiple hotel routes around the airport and restaurant food voucher credits for 20 GBP dinner and 15 GBP breakfast at the Radisson. United tried to make me retrieve my checked bag, but then said they would keep it overnight since it would take about an hour.

I paid $562 for my round trip ticket July 26 Stavanger, Norway to San Francisco with a return flight to Norway in September. The rebate on this trip home to California in late July, a miracle low fare as it was to find this UA discount fare to California when I bought it in March for travel in late-July peak summer season, makes my summer vacation even a better deal than I planned.

By 2:15pm on a Tuesday summer afternoon I was standing on the streets of Mayfair, London, hungry for lunch and near my local – Sainsbury’s Local, that is. So far this journey through London on an afternoon breaking away from the grips of London Heathrow Airport consisted of lunch with Indian food and beer in Green Park, a walk past Buckingham Palace, Victoria Memorial, St. James’s Park, Bali 2002 Memorial, glimpses of Big Ben and Westminster Palace, down Whitehall past Downing Street and Horse Guards, across Charing Cross to Trafalgar Square, inside The National Gallery, through Leicester Square theaters and Chinatown.

And here I am in London.

Loyalty Traveler – United paid me $400 to stay in London (July 27).

Loyalty Traveler – London Walking Tour in 8 to 10 hours from LHR, introduction (July 28).

Loyalty Traveler – London Walking Tour Buckingham Palace to Trafalgar Square in 1 to 2 hours (July 28).

Loyalty Traveler – London Walking Tour Trafalgar Square party, Leicester Square theaters, Chinatown food (July 29).

The next installment:

Lost in Sexy Soho

My phone went power dead after less than 2 hours in London. Between the challenge of no phone maps and poor memory after 20 months since last rambling the roads from Chinatown to Holborn, I veered over into Soho, London.

I did not even stop in Soho, except to snap photos. Yet, when I look at my photos, Soho looks really cool.

 Les Mis Shaftsbury AveSoho London  Les Mis

Outside the Queen’s Theatre, London, where Les Miserables has been performed since 2004. The play is on a 31 years continuous run in London.

Right side photo is looking down Shaftsbury Avenue about 800 feet to Piccadilly Circus.

London street maps

One of the great features of London are lots of street maps in the central tourist zone of the city. A cool feature of the maps are concentric circles showing 5 minutes, 10 minutes and 15 minutes walk time overlaid on the map streets and landmarks.

Up to this point I had navigated London by familiarity. Soho is an area I have not walked around since November 2014 and I was kind of lost. I was trying to head into the direction of the British Museum for no particular reason than to kind of stick to the Piccadilly Underground line for easy access back to London Heathrow. Soho proved to be a good diversion from the plan.

I walked down Shaftsbury and took the first right onto Rupert Street.

Lo and behold! We have been here before I see. The White Horse pub brings back memories.

The aspect of travel as a couple between Kelley and I means there are a lot of shared memories. In the photo below, I show you The White Horse pub on Rupert Street in Soho. I show Kelley this same photo and remind her of the place with our story about how we had one of the worst dinner experiences in London here. But you know what? I’ll probably go back to The White Horse with Kelley some day. This was a fun pub.

 The White Horse

The White Horse upstairs barkeep was working in a quiet environment when we arrived early evening, but over the course of the next couple hours a theater crowd came in and packed the place and it got chaotic. Our meal was canceled twice when they ran out of food entrees we had ordered and then we eventually got some second rate dinner. We had chatted up the barkeep earlier when the place was quiet and he knew the only thing that went wrong in our day was the dinner. We had poor food on a busy night and in the end he did not charge us for our dinner. That was straight up service and made The White Horse in Soho a salvageable good memory.

But, I would not expect a free dinner to happen too often again anywhere in London!

Soho Sex Shop

Sexy Soho’s Original Book Shop on Brewer Street.

Soho Street Stalls-2   So High Soho

So Cool, So High Soho and an Islamic Center too.

Soho Work sign   Soho Vinyl

RECORD SHOPS OF SOHO

“Vinyl is the real deal. I’ve always felt like, until you buy the vinyl record, you don’t really own the album. And it’s not just me or a little pet thing or some kind of retro romantic thing from the past. It is still alive.” – Jack White.

Soho name

“The name goes back to 1600 and probably derives from the fox-hunting cry ‘So-Ho’ to call the hounds off the scent in the days when the area of Soho Square was open country.” – knowyourlondon.com.

Soho-Blake

William Blake born here in Soho, London 28 November 1757.

There are more signs of a central London Soho makeover compared to the area as I remember it in 1989 when it seemed pretty well covered in, or really not-so-pretty sex shops and a lot of street people.

London Soho Google maps walk

Soho London on Google Maps is area bounded by Oxford Street to the north, Regent Street to the west, Leicester Square to the south and Charing Cross Road to the east.

Next Up: Oxford Street Fashion and Mayfair Bling

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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