Category Archives: london

London England – Day 3… Very Belated

So I’ve had computer issues.  I’ve had work issues.  I’ve had health issues.  But I couldn’t let this trip go unshared, the stories untold, or the pictures undone.  So lets just pretend I’m still there, blogging from a tiny hotel room in Europe, sharing all of this loveliness with you…

We spent most of our last full day in London at the Tower of London.  Google the history and you’ll be amazed.  Basically a tiny city within the city surrounded by stone walls, self sufficient, and the ability to protect itself.  The architecture was gorgeous, the history was mind blowing, and yes, we got to walk into each of those towers because the preservation over hundreds of years old was near pristine.  The jewels of the royal family is also held here – no cameras allowed – but the biggest diamonds I’ve ever seen, most of it way too gawdy for me… not saying I wouldn’t indulge if I was royalty.

There is even a story behind the ravens of London.  Mostly just legend, but none the less, they’ve been raised at the tower for hundreds of years and are seen to protect the crown.  Legend says should the crows ever leave, the crown will fall and London will follow.  That’s a lot of pressure for some birds.

But!  Let me tell you, these birds are no joke.  They no doubt walk around within the tower walls like they own the place, with all the confidence a raven could have.  They are the largest ravens I’ve ever seen, and smart too.  This little kid must have been munching on crisps or something before he stuck his hand back into his mitten before losing it… whatever was in it the raven was going at it with ease and diligence.

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Within the castle walls…

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Everyone wants me to carry the camera kit and take the pictures… but its like pulling teeth trying to get anyone to cooperate when it comes to them being in the photos…

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I’m pretty sure I tripped, tucked, rolled, and got right back up on my feet right after taking this photo (camera unharmed!).  I can only laugh about my clumsiness, though slightly embarrassing.  Week ankles, unsupportive shoes, small feet, I just really don’t know.  I’d like to blame it on the uneven cobblestone ground that is everywhere in Europe.

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Changing of the guard was fun, and loud, and a bit abrasive…   Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 10.15.30 PM

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I’m a little bit weird when it comes to history and torture chambers and such.  Don’t judge.  I can’t explain it… but this was on of the towers they kept prisoners.  Messages were etched into the stone and still stand in that condition.  You can read some of the confessions or confirmations of the innocence.  Of course we ran out of time before I got to see all of the good stuff… like the actual devices used.

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Part of the original materials used when the tower was being erected.Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 10.16.21 PM

The London Bridge stands outside the walls, but the view is phenomenal.  Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 10.16.27 PM

Hubby likes stained glass.  It’s a quiet obsession, I know and it was everywhere within the tower.Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 10.16.35 PM

There were a few cheesy re-enactors for tourists amusement.  But this guy was good at playing…

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Ever wonder how many times you show up in other people’s photos?

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A very ominous and mysterious photo of B.

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So we ate at The Swan which is one of Hubby’s favorite places to go in London.  Fun Fact: way back when, pubs, restaurants, etc were named after animals because the animals could be drawn.  The photo would identify the establishment and would be easily identifiable to the illiterate.  I hope you can read the sign (not a illiterate joke – more of a photo in web-quality)… again with the history.

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continue: operation Europe mind blown… watch for more posts soon (sooner than the soonest, I promise).

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London Day 2… Good eats and amazing views

Time has completely escaped me.  Time and the ability to link to wifi.  Even if I could connect it wouldn’t be like I would choose processing photos and putting together a blog post over getting in my solid four hours of sleep time a night.  The time difference is a killer, by 3am I’m finally sleepy and we are planning our days to begin with the rising sun to get in as much as possible.  At least I have this rooftop balcony view to help me through…

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AND! The amazing European cappuccinos to fuel me.  Never. Have. I.  Had.  Better.

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How to make a English breakfast:  eggs, toast, mushrooms (or peas), hashbrowns, Heinz beans, pork (none for me of course), and condiments.  This is as close to a hot breakfast as you’ll get in Europe… and the eggs are rare.

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Where England wins is dinner: meat pies, fish and chips, more peas, potatoes, beer…

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THIS… OH. MY. GOODNESS… THIS!!   Hands down the absolute best dessert I have EVER had.  Apple Crumble served with piping hot custard.  The apples were fresh.   The custard wasn’t too sweet.  And the crumble was real.  I died a little with every bite knowing it was one bite closer to ending.  I wanted to order a second but ate half of B’s instead.  I will never look at dessert again.

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Before the divine intervention with the dessert, we went to Harrod’s.  The ever famous, ever expensive, ever gigantic shopping mall where a thirty minute jaunt through will find you hustled by hundreds of people, eyed by security, standing in a 15 minute bathroom line, making puppy dog faces at a $600 purse or a $3000 sweater, and exiting with a 2014 Christmas bear from your husband.  It is quite the site, just as dramatic as the rest of London and houses the engagement ring Princess Di was going to receive from her boyfriend whom also happened to be the son of the Harrod’s owner.

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And then we saw lots of pretty structures and buildings:

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And then we trotted through a gigantic park where people were riding their bikes in footie Christmas pajamas…

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We finally happened upon Buckingham Palace.  Photos never do anything justice but they really don’t come close to the extravagance of this building.

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London at night is even more awe-striking.  Just lights and happenings and comings and goings.  Its an entirely new city after dark.  This is the best photo we got of Big Ben and the London Bridge.

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Lastly, Westminster Abbey which also doubles at the absolute best photo I have ever taken to date.  We didn’t get to go inside (Hubby says its amazing) because it was after hours on a Saturday, Sunday they were closed for tours, and Monday we are headed to Paris… maybe next time.  Fun Fact: William and Kate were married here.

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Taking a little break from achy feet as weary travelers before heading to our next stop… wherever that may be.

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London Day One: Exhausted Awe

Thursday, 4 Dec 2014:

12pm: Crossing the Canadian border.

4pm: Arriving in Toronto.

630pm: Checked in and through security.

830pm: Boarding the plan and waiting take off.

Friday, 5 Dec 2014:

9am: Landed.  London… (England, NOT Ontario.)

This place is beautiful.  As Americans we miss out being a newly established country with no original works of art, hand crafted and uniquely designed structures, or medieval ruins.  The alleys are skinny, the roads are cobblestone, and the food is fantastic.  I’m in love.  I’m in awe.  And I’m in total bliss.

Its a regular old melting pot itself.  So multicultural and tourist driven.  Its hard to tell the locals from the travelers and probably better that way – you’re always in the way but its always okay: the cabbies just honk at you and wait staff just moves around you.  Everyone’s used to it and everyone thrives off of it.  Tourism seems to drive this city and the city seems to cater to the tourist, but only in the most posh of ways.

Life is much different.  As I type I lay in a bed just larger than a full in a hotel room the size of a very small New York City flat that is actually located three buildings down from the lobby and is only neighbored by five other hotel rooms.  Small little brown stone (or town house) type buildings that line an entire block of the street have been renovated and broken up into rooms.  The buildings themselves are so old but the originality clashes with the modern decor with class and style.  And we have one hell of a view off our roof top balcony (more on that later).

The streets are lined with semi-tall buildings of original material and crowded with people, buses, and taxis.  The subway is my new favorite way to travel (or to keep it local… The Tube).  Trash is just thrown out on the streets in garbage bags in piles after closing for pick up.  Everything closes before nine except for pubs that close anywhere from 12-3am… which is odd for a bustling city, you’d think business after dark would be booming but it just goes to show how we work far too much to meet the needs of other’s in the US of A.  There isn’t a garbage can on the street.  Not.  One.  Have a traveling coffee?  Too bad, hold your cup until you venture in to another store or restaurant and don’t dare set it down… or else a 2500 pound fine will find its way to you.  The parks are spacious and kept.  Have to pee?  50 pence will get you into a public bathroom which doesn’t mean they’re cleaner because you pay it just means they are supposed to be cleaner because you pay.  The city itself for being so ancient isn’t in bad shape at all, but its not as clean as it could be either (I suggest putting out garbage cans) – yet cleaner than our city equivalent, New York (which ironically is street lined with trash cans).  And don’t even try getting a table at a pub after 1pm.  Everywhere is packed.  Food is hard to come by too, there are restaurants and pubs no doubt, but they are mysteriously hidden until every once in a while you’ll stumble upon one… and once you do, the food is divine and real and flavorful and is what food should taste like.

I am completely lost.  There is no rhyme or reason to the organization or pattern of the city.  Time is elusive.  We are only 5 hours ahead of the east coast but I feel like I’m in some weird time dimension where time is extremely important but there’s no way to keep track of it.

Exhaustion.  That’s the only way to describe the first day.  Up for 48 hours (in a 24 hour time period?!?) with a 2 hour nap somewhere thrown in.  Walked 500 miles in concentric circles with no real end or destination.  Saw everything but never quite enough. I never want to leave but wouldn’t ever be able to stay.

Hotel 43, 43 Queensway.  Mike says its the nicest and biggest hotel he’s ever stayed at here in London, and the nicest room for our price range.  If you want to shell out the big bucks (or big pounds rather… and we’re talking like a few hundred pounds per night) you’ll find yourself in an actual luxury, stand alone, building like modern hotels worldwide with more than 1.5 feet separating your bed from your toilet.

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Queensway.

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So much character…

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Brenda, Jason, Mike looking right like the cross walk is telling them to.

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Every crosswalk has this (or look left, or look both ways).

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Kensington Palace… We see many more iconic buildings and structures on Day 2.

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Just so much gorgeous.

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Waiting for The Tube. (and noting the time, but never really conceptualizing it)

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The city is decorated for Christmas.  There are many many groups of Santas on pub tours around the city. Drunk Santas are very polite.

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Oh my goodness, I wish I could take one of these phone booths home!  They are so great.  And they are everywhere!  And yes, working and used.

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Late night dinner and beer every night.  So much goodness!

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