Posted February 20, 2009 by Kate Hamman
When the clouds are gray, as is common in London, it's time to grab a bite to eat and take in a show. Well-known for its ample theater selections, Covent Garden can't be beat as a jumping-off point for a day or night on the town. This funky and fun district overflows with unique shops, coffee and tea houses, and theatrical performances, but you don't have to spend a pretty penny—even though the British pound is still worth somewhat more than U.S. dollar —to enjoy the sights.
Covent Garden Market: This bustling two-story market located on the Piazza nearly topples over with homemade goods, fine fashions, tasty treats, U.K. souvenirs, and enough eye candy to make your head spin. Street performers entertain onlookers with juggling, magic, and music, while shopkeepers bid patrons welcome.
Mon Plaisir: As the oldest French restaurant in London, this endearing brasserie, with its white exterior and red-and-blue lettering, has earned bragging rights as one of the best. Upon entering the dining area, you will encounter a pewter-topped bar, which was transported from a Lyonnais brothel to now give hungry souls a place to rest. The traditional country-French fare lives up to its reputation, with menu items such as beef casserole with a rich red wine sauce or medley of fish with chive butter sauce. And if you're in a hurry to catch a show, it's the greatest deal in town. For the pre-theater crowd, two- and three-course menus start at £13.50 (about $19.50 U.S. dollars; see XE.com for current exchange rates) and include a glass of wine with seatings between 5:45 and 7:00 p.m. on weekdays.
The Royal Opera House: Although this theater has gone through several transformations, the ground it stands on has been the scene of live performances for almost 300 years. Today, the lavishly decorated building, with an impressive glass dome and Greek columns, wows audiences with its opera, ballet, and dance productions. For half-price tickets, visit the box office several hours before a show. It may be risky, but spontaneity can pay off.
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(Photo: Visit London Images/Britain on View)
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