Wednesday, April 15, 2015

London 2015 - Getting There, Day One and Two

I know, I know, I know....I haven't blogged in forever.  Major life events have come and gone without nary a word of documentation.  Spring Break vacation to Arizona, Hubby snapping two of his hamstring muscles off the bone (OUCH!), termite invasion, huge job change, Bob's shoulder replacement, epic tire changing story with the four musketeers at ASU, the list goes on and on.  

But, I just got back from a great trip to London and I am going to skip all the topics mentioned above and just go straight to London recap before brain atrophy sets in and I can't remember anything! That has kind of already happened with the Spring Break vacation because it was like four weeks ago and that is a lifetime when you are old. 

Let's jump in! 

This was a Christmas gift girls trip with my sister-in-law and two nieces.  Thanks Hubby - these experiences are so much fun!  The same crew that crashed New York with me last year headed to London this year!  I started out flying solo to Bama so I could travel to London with the girls.  I was lucky enough to have a quick dinner with some of my favorites.  Bob, Lana and my brother Guk!  

Bob is only six days out from his shoulder replacement surgery in this photo but getting along great!  He is lucky he can still write with his right hand so he can keep up with all his doctor's appointments on his calendar!   We had a nice meal and Guk dropped me off at The Bad Farm for a good night's rest in anticipation of a long day of travel the next day! 

The next day we got to the airport in plenty of time (cause that is how I roll!) and had plenty of time to eat and take a selfie!  Super excited! 

First flight was a short one from Bama to Charlotte!   We had a four and a half hour layover before we headed across the pond. 

Hubby treated us to some Admiral's Club passes, which was really a nice way to spend a long layover. It was quiet and there were comfortable chairs.  PLUS, there were snacks and free alcohol.  I am in like Flynn on that combo! 

Out in the chaos of the International terminal we boarded our flight at 10:25 p.m. EST.  Flying through the night for seven hours (with a six hour time difference) to arrive in London at 11:25 a.m. London time!  The plan was to sleep on the flight and hit the ground running when we landed! 

Only problem is...there are other people on the flight.  And it was hard to sleep.  Especially when about twelve passengers started barfing.  Many of those in our very row or close by.  It was an epidemic.  In fact, about an hour and half from landing in London they came over the intercom and asked if there was a doctor or a nurse on board the flight.  Thankfully there was and she tended to a girl who was apparently really, really sick.  They asked us to stay in our seats when the flight landed so the paramedics could board the plane and get one of the passengers off first.  She was a young woman, maybe twenty years old.  I felt terrible for her.  And I also was worried.  Hoping so badly that I didn't eat what they ate on the flight or breathe in whatever nasty bug was kicking their collective butts!  Needless to say, the flight over did not go to plan - but that big metal bird did land safely and we were officially in London!  YAY!  

Here we are trying to figure out the underground subway system to transport us fourteen miles from Heathrow airport to the Hilton.  We made a fatal mistake here.  We ended up getting off the subway a stop too soon.  That meant we walked through the busy streets of London dragging our damn suitcases for a mile! As the hotel came in to sight, I could feel the tendons in my arm stretching to their maximum while I cussed myself for bringing way to many clothes and why did I bring my laptop!  UGH!  As we reached the corner to cross over to the hotel we walked right by a damn underground station.  We would have almost been dropped off in the hotel lobby if we had just ridden it one more stop!!!  ARGH!!!  We had much to learn about this public transportation system! 

We got checked in, dropped off the luggage and hit the streets of London.  First stop...Starbucks.  We are such Americans!   Non-sleeping, waiting to see if we start barfing, just drug fifty pound bags for a mile, caffeine needing Americans.  Coffee never tasted so good! 

We headed for Kensington Park.  Found the infamous Peter Pan statue and strolled further to see the other sites.   The girls were much happier than this picture conveys.  Perhaps they have not finished their coffee? 

Sun shining down on a steeple across a beautiful pond.  The weather was gorgeous! 

Flowers were blooming everywhere. 

From Kensington Park we made our way over to Nottinghill. 

There were lots of little shops.  This cool store had hundreds of old sewing machines in the window.  Very cool. 

We found a pub where we experienced our first pint of beer!  It was excellent! 

And fish and chips!   Delicious!  Way better than I expected.  

We slow strolled it back to the hotel and hit the sack pretty early.  Long day with very little rest.  A few things to note:  Toilets in London are weird.  Our hotel toilet required four or five pumps of the handle to prime it before it would flush.  When it flushed the water came out like a garden hose.  Weird.  Toilet paper is not soft.  Mattress are firm to the extreme.  There is not a coffee pot in the room, but there is an electric kettle to heat water.  Coffee is instant.  My cell phone was not configured for cellular data in Europe.  Not prepared for that.  We also did not plan very well for the electric converters.  We only had one.  There were four of us.  Four cell phones, two laptops, three cameras, blowdryer, etc.  It was a revolving outlet getting everything charged.  Advil PM is the shiz!  The complete and total shiz!  I was out like a light and slept so soundly!  Good thing because we were up and out the door early! 

Malarie studied the Underground Map and schedule and we headed down to Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guard. 

The subway was really nice...although a bit on the pricey side.  Could not even imagine trying to drive in this congested mess on the wrong side of the road so we just happily paid for an all day pass each and every day! 

Picture taking and map reading.  There was a ton of both. 

Look!  A British Phone Booth!  In real life! 

The park in front of Buckingham Palace was GORGEOUS!  In bloom with beautiful flowers. 

We walked by the barracks and the Royal Guard band was outside.  They cranked up the instruments and started playing New York New York!  So festive!  

Police were on horses. 

Buckingham Palace.  Big crowd there for the daily changing of the guard. 
The flying flag meant the Queen was in.  She did not come out to greet us.  I was a bit disappointed! 

Seriously.  So pretty.  Beautiful weather day! 

Guards marching into the grounds.  We were not close, but we could see them! 

And here comes the band! 

Very cool! 

This girl loves London.

This girl loves mailboxes!  
Our rural route carrier found a mailbox quicker than you could say "What is your zip code?"

We walked around the palace, hoping to get a glimpse of the gardens, but all we got was a long walk around a brick wall.  Not our best choice, but we did pop into the Queen's store and buy a few souvenirs! 

Best picture of the trip!  Isn't that beautiful? 

This girl loves maps and planning trips.  She is really good at it!  Tour guide extraordinaire! 

Next up, Westminster Abbey.  Beautiful church and we decided to go inside for a tour!  

Public Service Announcement:  This is not so much a church as it is a tomb!  Lots of dead guys in Westminster Abbey.  I was not prepared for that!  Every square inch of this place is covered in a tomb of one kind or another.  I mean, every square inch!  It is crammed full of statues and monuments and plaques.  Not so much with baby Jesus!  I was looking all over for him!   It was interesting for sure! 

Headed back over to Big Ben and the London Eye.  
All four of us were in agreement that we were NOT riding that big ferris wheel! 

We found a sweet vegan restaurant to grab a late lunch at a place called Mildred's.  
It was tiny and so cute.

More importantly, the food was AMAZING!  At least my homemade pasta stuffed with pumpkin and covered in a mushroom wine sauce drizzled with truffle oil was AWESOME!!!  SO, SO, SO good.  Best meal of the trip for me!

Next up on the agenda was Covent Garden Market.  
Sweet little shopping area that was bustling with activity.  

We slow strolled back through some super cute streets of London, rode part way back on a double decker bus and made it back to our hotel early evening.  The girls went out to grab something quick to snack on at a little shop near the hotel and we ate in the room and planned the next days activities!  So far, so good!  Another Advil PM and sweet dreams were mine!  I like sleeping in London! 

Next few days of London adventure coming up in a future post!  

1 comment:

  1. That picture of the castle is stunning! Looks like a postcard.