Subject: November in Bilbao and London
Hi Ziners, It was a day in Bilbao and a week in London - and it was great! Well worth the hassles at BA check-in and the seven hour layover at Heathrow for the Iberian flight. It was that they just kept sending me from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2 - it was a code-share flight which confused customer services.

I had planned to bus in from the airport but found myself suddenly outside the building in front of the taxi stand - well, I took the cab. I had booked a room at the Petit Palace Arana on line and it turned out to be very nice, recently renovated, and perfectly located on the edge of old and new. Cost was $65/night with 11 euros extra for a buffet breakfast.

The next day was full: I was on the go from early morning until later evening. Spent three-plus hours at the Guggenheim, inside and out, and then had lunch there. Also went to the nearby Fine Arts Museum, the library (with lovely stained glass window) and the Ethnological Museum (which had the most interesting subject matter). I walked about the very charming city, which has much unimaginative construction going on. I also found the huge fish and produce market but, by the time I got there, was pretty well closed down.

I did have a GTG with Covadonga that evening; we had a walkabout, a chat and a bite of supper. I felt fortunate to talk with her; she had emailed so many good suggestions and I was able to make use of almost all of them. My only regret is I didn't get to see the interior of the Theatre Arriaga, a beautiful building across from my hotel.

Then to London! It must be something like my 20th stay there, so sighseeing was at the bottom of my agenda. I had booked some tickets via the internet before my arrival but had time available for last minute interesting performances. It worked out: I got to see most of what I wanted to even though I ended up with standing room on one occasion. As usual, I needed an extra day to catch a couple more plays. Oh well!

Stayed at the Regent Palace, as old timey as the Petit Place Arana was high tech. It's a big tourist hotel, located at Piccadilly. Via BA Holidays, I ended up with a discounted rate of $550 for the seven night stay including English brreakfast - which I didn't take full advantage of for I'm not into fried eggs, beans and bangers. I settled for cereal, juice and tea.

I managed to squeeze in four plays, three ballet performances, five classical events (including Rastropovich conducting the LSO and Joshua Bell with a chamber group), two musicals, the Raphael exhibition, and three London Walks (the Oscar Wilde walk, a Illegal-Legal Walk, and Hidden London walk - all very interesting!). BUT for me, the theatre buff, the high point was an afternoon spent at a new play reading followed by a Master class. Harold Pinter was one of the participants in the reading; the playwright who adapted one of the plays I saw was the speaker for the Master Class. Ran into this accidently and the three hours cost 2 pounds.

I did a lot of walking as the weather, while crisp, was dry except for one evening when rained, I got soaked and ended up on the bus to Islington. Used the bus and tube several times but do prefer to walk. Jo, decompressing in Sunnyvale.