Saturday, May 22, 2010

My Journal: London

Left Dallas, Texas, USA at 5:30pm for a 9-hour fight.

LONDON, ENGLAND: May 1-6, 2010

May 1st: Saturday DAY 1:

May 2nd: Sunday Day 2:  My daughter, Desira Angelle’s 34th birthday.

Arrived in London about 8:30 am. 

It was a bit before we found where we were to meet our ‘tour guide’. (We traveled with ‘Grand European Tours) but soon we were on our way to our hotel on a chartered bus line.

That was a ‘trip’ in its self! I sat in the front row of the bus so I could get the best possible view…and boy, did I. First of all I had to NOT freak because the driver was sitting on the wrong side, of course so was his steering wheel! It was raining, and a bit chilly, but not bad. I started taking a lot of pictures from my Iphone. It was so exciting!

A nice hotel. The escalator was out of order and because you come in on the lower level one must walk up a flight of stairs to the main part of the hotel.  After making our way to the elevators, which was a nice little walk, on to the 3rd floor. Then waaaayyyyyy down the hall….and I do mean DOWN THE HALL, turn to another hallway then turn to a shorter one! WOW, We got a great work out each and every time we went in and out…*smile*

Upon arrival we decided a nap was in order. Then we ventured out!  We found a Pizza Hut for dinner.
 I had lasagna, which was very good. I have since discovered the sauce had a creamy béchamel sauce. Larry had some sort of pasta, but was not fond of his. Nothing we would find on the ‘USA’ menu.
 Later we had a ‘meet and greet’ with our tour group back at the hotel lounge.

May 3rd: Monday Day 3:
An English breakfast! The buffet at the hotel had: Thick sliced fried potatoes, 2 types of tomatoes, half’s toasted and stewed. Pork N Beans,
Eggs were either poached or fried and even scrambled. Ahh…the bangers! An English sausage.  Awesome. Different types each morning and my husband fell in love with them. (So much so that we got home he found a British Market that makes and ships them) So yes, we have bangers in our freezer! LOL Also, some type of brown patties, and I am afraid I do not know what it was. I tried if and it was some type of bread perhaps. I just know that I did not care too much for it.
Now on to the other foods: Lots of different types of wonderful croissants, (I found I enjoyed the ones with chocolate pieces in it) fruits, cold/hot cereals, sliced cheese/cold cuts. Juices and a lot of different teas/coffees.

A British lady with a cute accent filled this morning with a bus/walking tour of the city. Filled our heads with all sorts of information about all the things we were seeing and about people who at one time were in the area.
OMG! We saw so many buildings and learned so much history. Unbelievable!

We saw and admired: Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and historic Westminster Abbey, where kings and queens have been crowned since 1065. Then we rode through and visited some of the West End, seeing Downing Street, Trafalgar Squares and The Nelson’s Column. We walked with our guide to Buckingham Palace to witness the pomp and pageantry Changing of the Guards. The St. James Park is awesome and I took a lot of pictures there as well.

We road along Piccadilly Circus/Eros Statue. Past Green Park and the Ritz and finished at the heart of the West End. We saw and visited the hospital where Florence Nightingale started, the school of music where Elton John and many great artist went. Also visited the church where the author of Peter Rabbit was married. (From the movie Miss Potter) and soooo much more!

Our umbrellas came in handy as we walked and took in the sites. So many people, so much traffic. Mothers and their babies in strollers, not caring that it was raining. I love the way they had plastic coving up the stroller, allowing the child to see what was going on around them.

We took a River Cruise on the Thames. That was so cool. This way we were able to see buildings from the ‘back side’. The cruise was very relaxing, just what we both needed.

For the most part, lunch was just ‘something’ we could grab and eat as we walked. Like sandwiches, of all sorts. Love the breads!

Within a short walking distance from the hotel we found ‘Three Tuns’, a nice English Pub for dinner.
Because it was still cold out, a wonderful fire was going in the fireplace that divided the pub from the dining area. It was so nice to sit, relax, and watch both the fire and the people. (You can see a pic of the fireplace in the ‘London’ album) Sitting in the ‘dinning area’ we also had a window view. I could see people standing, having a beer just visiting with friends, outdoors. They only had tall tables outside at this pub. There they stood, drank, talked with friends and smoked.

My only complaint was that smoking is allowed just right out side the doors. So, no matter where we went, I just had to remember to shield my face from the smoke!

May 4th: Tuesday Day 4:
This day, we rode the ‘The Original Tour’ bus. It is a double Decker, which has open top. We sat there so we could have the best views. I took so many pics with my Iphone and Larry had the camera. The bus had earplugs so you could listen to the tour guides as we rode around the city.
The service was a ‘hop-on hop-off' type and offered 4 different tour routes. From they’re if we wanted to see something the guide talked about, we could get off and walk around. Then hop back on to continue the route.

 If you will notice in my photos I have pics of elephants! They are for a fund raising effort to save endangered Asian elephants. Read about it here:

Our first stop on the bus was at the London Eye.
It’s a ferris wheel that is 450 ft. tall. Takes about 30 minutes to go around. Awesome. What a wonderful way to get a ‘bird eye’ view of the city and beyond.
Then, on to Westminster Abby. That was magnificent.  Back on the bus toward Shakespeare Globe, London Bridge, Dungeons, and the Tower Bridge. Just loved the Tower of London. Now, on to St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Back towards the hotel in the other direction my husband really enjoyed seeing the Telecom Tower.

Loved the buildings. So old, and large. The side streets just seem to go on forever and ever with even more large buildings!
Rode past the NAME BRAND STORES, where all the ‘high end’ shops are.
Went to Harleys where they are celebrating their 250th birthday! Cool toy store!!

Also, love the car dealerships!! WOW…I asked for a pink smart car…Larry said NO! Couldn’t fit in my luggage! Lol But they are so darn cute!!

Even passed in front of the Texas Embassy!

Now as you can see, by then I was so brain dead, it was unbelievable. My head was swimming from so many sights, sounds and history! Remember, all the while on the bus we had head phones, giving us information as we rode around looking the wonderful buildings!

When the day was near over, and we had had enough…back to Three Tuns for a cocktail and dinner. This time I had Roast Beef, potatoes, carrots and Yorkshire pudding and Larry had fish and chips! Very tasty!
OK, OK…perhaps not the Yorkshire pudding, but hey I did try it! lol

May 5th: Wednesday Day 5:
After having another awesome breakfast we walked a bit, then got on the Original Tour bus. We went in a different direction this time.

Towards Sherlock Museum and shop and found a London Beatles Show. That was cool. Both were really fun to walk through. From here we took a taxi towards Abbey Road. The driver gave all sort of cool information. Which  ‘crosswalk’ was the correct on to see if we were going to take pictures. He pointed out the ‘first one’ where everyone assumes is the correct crosswalk, is not!
The second one, a block down has the brown building to the left.  That is the one that is on the cover of the Beatles album cover “Abbey Road”. True to his word, we ‘found’ the one with the brown building on the side, the very same one as the album cover!

On to Notting Hill. Found the Travel Bookstore that Julia Roberts movie “Notting Hill” was featured. That was fun to go see. Love the area. Lots of outdoor markets. Venders selling all sorts of things. Fresh cut flowers everywhere to buy. Slow pace area, nice to really just walk and relax.

At some point had to ‘go to the restroom’ and even took a picture of the cute little sink. Larry by now was use to me taking pics of really weird things!
Ok, now that I am on the subject of toilets…wow now the public ones are truly cool. They look like a huge dome. Some you have to pay, some you don’t. After each use, they self clean. Cool huh! The door will close, wash, dry and ready to go for the next ‘customer’. This only takes a few minutes, but hey, it’s worth the wait.

After lunch, we continue to walk. And walk. Saw a lot of really neat apartments with awesome gardens. Walked in front of Princess Di’s favorite Café to have her afternoon tea with her boys. Now, named after her.

On towards Kensington Gardens/Palace. In Hyde Park, I really enjoy the lake, with all the swans and different types of waterfowl.  You may have notice the ‘lawn chairs’ in the park. (In the pictures) They are for RENT! Yes, to lie in the sun will cost you. Don’t know how much, but it’s only for a short period of time. Passed in front of Princess Diana’s Fountain, Peter Pan park and soooo much more. That park is huge…but oh so pretty. When we made our way to ‘Speakers Corner’,
and Marble Arch, we knew we were almost to the hotel! We both could not believed how much we had walked. But wow, what a day. Now for
one last dinner at Three Tuns and back to the room for an early night.
Tomorrow PARIS!

May 6th: Thursday Day 6: PARIS
One last English breakfast… again we both found this meal very good. All ready now, time to gather with our group for the bus ride to the train.

The eurpstar ride took 2 ½ hours from London to Paris.  The train travels 180-200 miles per hour. The countryside was nice, from what we could see of it. There were fields of bright yellow something…very pretty, whatever it was. I did meet a lady commented on me tatting. Said her great-aunt once tatted.
Ahhh…now we have reached Paris! The first thing we did was get on a tour bus and travel about the city.  We rode past the Louvre, Place de la Concorde, the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral. Already my head was swimming with all the history and information we were hearing. Such beauty!

We were told there was good news and bad news. The bad news was we were transferred from one hotel to another. Good news, the hotel was in Paris instead of the outskirts. So after being on the tour for a couple of hours, we headed for the hotel. Concord De Lafayette.

This time, the room was a lot closer to the elevator and main area. By now we are hungry and ready to check out the attractions! But first we need to ‘check out’ the room and wait for our luggage to be delivered.

Nice, a little small but hey, we’re not planning on sending that much time in it anyways. The decor is very ‘modern’, in the colors of black, gray and silver. All of a sudden I hear Larry say “OH MY GOD!” He is standing at the window, looking out threw the closed curtains. I had to see what all the fuss was about.

WOW. He was looking towards the Eiffel Tower!

Here we are, in Paris looking out of our hotel window viewing the Eiffel Tower! Now how cool is that!!

So now it is really time to eat, so we got together with a few couples from our tour group and went out to venture the streets of Paris.
After a bit we all decided on a nice pub and great a great meal.

We walked around in awe, still not believing we are in Paris.
Later, early evening we all met as a group and headed out again on a bus. This time is was for a Seine River night cruise. Ahhhh, a magical tour of the ‘city of lights’! What a beautiful night. After the cruise, we walked toward the Eiffel Tower. Now, it was all lit up! What an unbelievable sight. We all stood around; taking pictures enjoying this magnificent sight when all of a sudden the Tower lights started blinking! OMG! Sooo cool. It lasted 5 minutes. Then we learned ‘it’ happened at 9, 10 and 11 pm each evening for 5 minutes each hour.  What a night. What a day. We’re tired but…it’s a good tired.

May 7th: Friday Day 7: stay tuned for more...


Oh! said...

I love it! Keep em coming! West Minister Abby looks breath taking (in the pictures of course!) Love the journal xoxo

Jane said...

It's fantastic seeing this country from a visitor's perspective. Looking forward to the next installment

stitchersanon said...

As another UKer I am amazed at how amazing you are finding the UK. You should have good weather this weekend but rain is par for the course. I am trying to work out what you had for breakfast. It is was an English Breakfast, the 'brown things' were either hash browns, muffins, toast: or dare I say, black pudding. I will let you find out the ingredients to that one yourself ;-)

sarah louise said...

your writing makes us feel like we were right there in london with you, nancy! it sounds like you had a wonderful time. (o: